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Common fruit flies are one of a species of fruit fly that belong to the genus, Drosophila. Late summer and early fall is fruit fly season. That’s when you’ll see these pesky little critters flying silently around your home in search of food. Fruit flies typically enter your house via open doors and windows, but their larvae are often bought inside unnoticed on the skin of freshly-harvested fruit or veg.
Fruit flies also colonize drain outlets where food particles are caught in the drain grill. From here, they can get into your kitchen via your pipework and sink plughole.
Fruit flies are attracted to fermenting fruit and vegetables, which is why you’ll find them hanging around your fruit bowl, your kitchen garbage can, and even on wet mops and mop water where food particles may be trapped.
Do fruit flies bite?
In short, no, fruit flies do not bite.
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Fruit flies feed on the vinegary substances and yeast that’s produced by fermenting fruit and vegetables and decomposing plant matter. Other favorite fruit fly foodstuffs include mushrooms, bananas, and spilled alcoholic beverages.
The fruit fly punctures the skin of the food item in order to feed and lay its eggs.
Also, unlike critters such as fleas, which feed on the blood of mammals, fruit flies do not have biting mouthparts, so they physically cannot bite you or your pets. The organ that the flies use for feeding is not sharp or strong enough to puncture human skin.
There are many other species of small flies that do bite, and some of these do resemble fruit flies. For example, if you live near standing water or have a pond in your yard, you may notice clouds of “biting midges” hovering nearby.
“Midge” or “gnat” is a broad colloquial term that’s commonly used to describe any small biting insect, and the fruit fly is often mistakenly identified as a midge. Some species of midges carry diseases. Others are very efficient pollinators, and all species provide food for creatures such as birds and bats.
So, how do you tell the difference between a fruit fly and a midge? Well, common fruit flies are typically light brown or tan in color and measure between 3mm and 4mm in length. Midges are darker in color and are often smaller too, depending on the species.
So, fruit flies are harmless, right?
Although fruit flies can’t bite, they can still pose a health risk in your home.
As these tiny flies feed on rotten foods, they pick up bacteria. Also, fruit flies are attracted to animal feces and will happily feed on that too.
Therefore, if a fruit fly decides to make a meal out of some juicy plums that are sitting on your kitchen counter, harmful bacteria could be left behind on the skin of the fruit. Also, fruit flies lay their eggs under the skin of ripe fruit. By the time the eggs hatch out, the fruit has begun to rot, providing a perfect food source for the larvae.
That’s why you should always wash fruit or veg immediately before you eat it!
Fortunately, although fruit fly infestations may number many thousands of individuals, the flies’ lifespan is very short, rarely exceeding ten days.
What are these red spots on your skin …?
Fruit flies don’t have teeth, and they don’t bite. However, some people do report getting red spots on their skin following contact with fruit flies.
What could this be?
The red pimples reported are actually caused by an allergic reaction to certain bacteria that the fruit flies carry on their legs and bodies. More unusually, an allergic respiratory response can sometimes occur in people who are especially susceptible to certain forms of bacteria.
The problem can be resolved quickly and easily by washing your skin with warm water and mild soap to remove the bacteria that have caused the reaction. For good measure, the application of an over-the-counter anti-bacterial cream should kill-off any remaining bugs, and the spots should disappear within a day or two.
If the spots are itchy, it can be helpful to take oral anti-histamine, which will effectively get rid of these symptoms, as well as resolving any respiratory issues. However, if you don’t notice any improvement within a couple of hours, ask your doctor’s advice.
Fruit flies are more of a nuisance than a danger to you and your family. Fruit flies feed on rotting fruit and vegetables, which is why they’re attracted to people’s homes, kitchens, and gardens.
Fruit flies don’t bite people or pets. However, if you’re allergic to the bacteria the flies carry, you may come out in a rash of tiny red spots. In rarer cases, you might find that contact with the flies affects your breathing.
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