Are Fruit Flies Harmful? What Happens If You Eat Them

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Feb 01, 2023 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Oct 14, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fruit Fly close up.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.3 Min

Fruit flies, or pests, generally seen in kitchens all year round, are small flies that feed on rotting fruits and vegetables.

Unlike certain infestations that have a particular source of origin, this issue, although extremely common, has an unknown source. Fruit flies have not scientifically been associated with any illness, they merely eat food that is spoiled and thus harmful to humans.

It is the food, not the flies, that causes the issue. Consumption of food contaminated by fruit flies is indeed harmful to humans, and the fact that they multiply by the day is something that can be alarmingly concerning.

Identifying fruit flies is simple because of their size, round blood-red eyes with a light yellow body and black stripes near the tail.

They are three times smaller than a housefly with transparent wings that are larger than their entire body. They usually show up in household kitchens, restaurants, drains, garbage disposals, and in any place where food is left to rot, to lay eggs and multiply in number.

Preventing a fruit fly infestation at an early stage isn't too great a task but, if left unattended, it can transform into a cause of major concern.

Keep reading to discover the best way to get rid of fruit flies and more essential facts about them! You can also check out: 'Are bay leaves edible?' and 'Are beans a vegetable?' to discover fun facts about them.

What are fruit flies?

Fruit flies are nothing but a nuisance. They may look harmless for their tiny size but will wreak havoc once they find a suitable place to breed.

However, having a few fruit flies around isn't that bad as it helps in sorting the rotten or fermenting food from the good ones. This is because they are usually attracted to fruits and vegetables that have already started rotting or fermenting. They do not lay eggs in humans.

A fruit fly, belonging to the family Drosophilidae, order Diptera, and genus Drosophila, is a type of fly. Its scientific name is Drosophila melanogaster.

An adult fruit fly is 0.1 in (2.5 mm) long with transparent wings and blood-red eyes. It has a yellow-colored body with black stripes at the end. They are generally seen during autumn since fruits and vegetables mature in this season.

They are drawn towards ripe, rotten, or decaying food and other organic produce that is not refrigerated. They reproduce at an enormous speed; that is, they lay 500 eggs at a time and their life-cycle ranges between a week or two.

How To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies

Preventing fruit fly infestation at an early stage may not be so difficult but, if they are not attended to, the situation will go out of control. The best way to eliminate fruit flies is by eradicating the breeding grounds. Here are some tips that one can follow to control pest infestation.

Firstly, overripe or fermenting fruits and vegetables must be disposed of at the earliest. Garbage disposals, empty cans, bottles, containers, and drains near homes must be cleaned at regular intervals and must be kept covered at all times.

These methods will help to prevent fruit flies from breeding. Keeping the doors and windows closed at all times will prevent the fruit flies from coming inside homes.

Secondly, one can use a fruit fly trap to trap the flies. There are many types of organic and natural traps that one can prepare.

In that case, one will need wine or apple cider vinegar, a jar, and a piece of paper to produce the traps. The bottom of the jar has to be filled with wine or apple cider vinegar.

Then, the paper has to be folded into a cone and placed on top of the jar, with the narrow end pointing downward.

Flies are attracted by the smell of wine or vinegar. As soon as the flies gather around the jar, they will drown in whereby the cone has to be turned upside down to trap them.

These are some of the easiest and pocket-friendly ways to control and eliminate the infestation of pests. Nonetheless, one can always call the pest control company for direct assistance.

House fly close up.

Are fruit fly larvae harmful to eat?

Fruit flies are not only nuisance bugs, but fruit fly and fruit fly larvae have the potential to cause serious health issues in humans.

Ingesting a fruit fly can make you really sick and is something to worry about. Bacteria, germs, and several other ubiquitous organisms that are stuck to their bodies are deposited in the produce by them. Consumption of such is hazardous and gives rise to several diseases like diarrhea, food poisoning, and others.

What happens if you eat a fruit fly?

Once the fruit is infested by fruit flies, it becomes mushy and perhaps, discolored. This contaminated fruit contains several bacteria such as salmonella, listeria, E. coli, and so on.

These germs are known to be the cause of food poisoning. There have been several food poisoning cases where the affected ones have resorted to hospitalization.

On other occasions, the situations have even become life-threatening. Fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, apples, bananas, and peaches are loved by fruit flies. These must be checked for infestation at all times before consumption to avoid health hazards.

To avoid consuming any fruit flies, it is important to be able to identify an infestation. Adult fruit flies and pupae are the two commonly found signs of infestation.

Overripe vegetables and fruits bought from the markets, open windows and doors, uncovered trash cans in kitchens, empty containers, and bottles, and open drains near homes are some of the sources from where the tiny yet dangerous fruit flies or pests originate and are led inside homes.

On detecting the smell of ripe and rotting food, they instantly get inside it and start incubating. Some other breeding grounds may include spilled beverages or shakes around trash bins or under a fridge or used bottles and cans which are not cleaned properly.

Adult female fruit flies lay an uncountable number of eggs in them, and a span of 12-15 hours is taken to hatch after which, the larvae are formed.

The microorganisms decomposing the fruit are fed upon by them. One may not find signs of infestation until the fruit is cut in half, where the pest is usually feeding or breeding.

The particular area of infestation becomes soft and pulpy.

It is a common misconception that fruit flies cause rotting in food. In fact, they are attracted to rotten produce in the first place.

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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