Fruit Fly Life Cycle With Pictures [How long Does it last]

The life cycle of a fruit fly is divided into four stages. Those are the egg, larva, pupa, and adult. However, the cycle duration depends on environmental factors like moisture and temperature.

When temperatures are maintained at 22–26 °C (71–78 °F), a fruit fly life cycle lasts for 2 weeks. After the egg is laid, it takes 1 day to hatch into larvae. After 8 days, the larvae will develop into pupa. The pupa then lasts for about 6 days and finally develops into an adult fruit fly.

Fruit fly life cycle with pictures

What are the stages of a fruit fly life cycle?

The four stages of a fruit fly life cycle are namely the egg, larvae, pupa, and adult.  We’ll take a closer look at this in more detail in the next section. Here is a brief breakdown of the four stages involved in the fruit fly life cycle:

1. Egg

Fruit fly egg

The cycle begins with the female laying eggs on the surface of moist, organic materials such as fruits, mushrooms, sap fluxes etc. the fruit fly prefer rotting fruits and vegetables.

Female fruit flies can lay up to 500 eggs over the course of their relatively short lifespan, around 5 at a time. The eggs are about 0.5 mm long.

2. Larva

Fruit fly larvae

In the next stage of the fruit life cycle, a larva appears from the egg. This typically takes about 24 hours of hatching of the eggs but it can vary depending on the temperature. 

The larva continues growing for 4 days and molts two times into 2nd and 3rd-instar larvae. During this period the larva feeds on sugars from the decomposing fruit as well as microorganisms decomposing the fruits.

3. Pupa

Fruit fly pupa

This is the final stage of the cycle and is the time when the larva undergoes metamorphosis (transformation from one life form to another).

During this stage, the developing fruit fly (larva) develops a hard outer skin that serves as its housing for 4-6 weeks. Inside this protective layering, the pupa develops wings and color.

It is at this point that the fruit fly develops from a fat maggot to an insect that will soon be flying around in your house or garden. During the puparium phase, the pupa depends entirely on the food it has previously consumed and stored during the larval stage. 

4. Adult

Finally, an adult is ready to emerge. The adult is able to fly and can reproduce in a matter of 2 days. Adult fruit flies are notable for their characteristic red eyes and feathery antennae.  

How temperature affects the life cycle of a fruit fly

At 83°F (28 degrees Celsius), it only takes 7 days for a fruit fly egg to develop into an adult fruit fly.

  • When the temperature is increased to 90°F (32 degrees Celsius), the life cycle of a fruit fly takes 11 days. 
  • When the temperature is dropped to 74°F (24 degrees Celsius), the complete life cycle takes up to 7 weeks.

In overcrowded environment, the fruit fly life cycle time increases, but the resulting adults tend to be smaller in size.

Well, the life cycle of a fruit fly varies from between 8 and 10 days on normal conditions. The lifespan of a fruit fly after it is fully developed into an adult depends on where the eggs where laid.

Here is a video showing a fruit fly’s life cycle under the microscope:

Fruit fly and its life-cycle under the microscope

Adult fruit flies

If you are wondering, “How do you get fruit flies?” after noticing an upsurge in their numbers in your kitchen or within your house, then you may have gotten them in one of two main ways.

Firstly, you could have “imported” them from your last purchase of fruits. Yes, those seemingly fresh fruits from your local grocery store could have been harboring some fruit fly eggs laid on them.

After undergoing the fruit fly life cycle we described in the previous section, the eggs may have given rise to those undesired guests.

Secondly, adult fruit flies may have smelled the alluring aroma of those ripening fruits in your house and thought how much a savory dish that could make for them.

And after hours of looking for entry points around your house, they finally discovered the window or a small hole or crack somewhere and are now your unappreciated guests.

How Are Fruit Flies Formed 

“Every now and then, I see a fruit fly buzzing around in my bedroom and I am getting tired of hunting them down. My friend thinks that they come from inside of rotting fruits but I never have fruits in the bedroom. How are fruit flies born really?” Angel

That question was asked by one of our readers after reading another related article in our network about getting rod of fruit flies in your home.

Fruit flies actually don’t emanate from inside the rotting fruits as the popular belief goes. Instead, they emanate from the surface of rotting fruits after adult fruit flies lay eggs there. The eggs hatch and develop into adult fruit flies in a period of 8-10 days.

Fruit flies are one of the fastest breeding species and an adult fruit fly is able to start laying eggs within just 2 days.

Now consider that each adult can lay as much as 500 eggs in its short lifetime and you will know why fruit flies can be such mayhem in your home or kitchen.  

What do fruit flies eat

So, what do fruit flies eat? Well, fruit flies are herbivores that feed on fruits and vegetables right from the day they are hatched from their eggs as a larva stage to the day they reach adulthood.

This is the very reason that the adult fruit flies lay their eggs on the surface of rotting fruits and organic substances like vegetable and rotting mushrooms.

The hatched larva has an easy time obtaining its required nutrients from the rotting fruits and vegetables; it not only feeds on the sugar but also on the microorganisms that are responsible for the decay process.

The pupa however doesn’t need any food during the 4-6 days of this stage of the life cycle; instead, they thrive on the food accumulated during the larval stage.

As for adult fruit flies, they are as well herbivores and feed exclusively on fruits, vegetables, and other decaying organic materials.

Rotting fruits are however their favorite. Adult fruit flies are ready to start feeding on your fruits and vegetables right from day one. Fermenting liquids can as well serves as food for fruit flies.

Fruit flies secrete a liquid that breakdown fruits prior to feeding on them. For this reason, the first step in getting rid of fruit flies in your home is to ensure that you don’t leave fruits lying around in the open.

Baby fruit flies

One fruit fly can produce as much as 500 eggs and that may roll down to 500 baby fruit flies (even though that is of course not possible biologically speaking).

Now consider the fact that each baby fruit fly can start its reproductive life in just 2 days with each egg taking just a couple of days to develop. You will see what how those little flies have a high potential of infesting your home.

Luckily there are numerous solutions that you can use to get rid of them from your home. Homemade fruit fly traps are one of the best ways to safely keep those flies out of your home.

References:

  1. North Eastern IPM Center: Learn the Pest Biology – Fruit flies, Drosophila SppUSC
  2. University of Southern California: The secret life of fruit flies by Susan bell