Fruit Fly Life Span: Can Fruit Flies Live Without Food?

A fruit fly’s life span depends on the temperatures and food around it. The eggs can take a very short time (1-2 weeks) if the temperature is set at a constant level of 27 Degrees Celsius.

The maximum life span of an adult fruit fly is 50 days if the temperatures are between 24-27 Degrees Celsius. Temperatures above or below this range and lack of food will reduce their lifespan to 7 days. This is because fruit flies cannot live for more than 1 week without food.

The term lifespan is used to describe how long those flies live before they die a natural death. The natural lifespan of a fruit fly starts from the day it is hatched and formed into an adult to the day of its death.

How Long Do Fruit Flies Live Without Food

Fruit flies can live for a maximum of 7 days without food. When they starve for 4-5 days, they will start to die. However, you can be assured that fruit flies will not live beyond 1 week without food.

This means that the availability of food is also a great factor that influences the lifespan of a fruit fly. This is why it difficult to control the population of fruit flies once they infest your home.

The female typically lays her eggs on fermenting fruits or decaying vegetable. These are ideal sources of sugar and microorganisms which the larvae feed on as they develop into adult fruit flies.

However, if there is no food but they find liquid that contain carbohydrates around the house, fruit flies will live longer. This is because they can survive on beverages and damp environment even if there is no food.

The fact that fruit flies can survive on liquid cabs and beverages makes it very difficult to starve them out of your house. So if you are thinking of starving them, then be ready for disappointments.

However, you can still get rid of them by using homemade fruit fly sprays or those that are recommended by an experience pest controller in your local area.

Fruit Fly Life Span, How Long Do Fruit Flies Live Without Food

Temperature effects on fruit fly lifespan

Well, it has been observed that the average lifespan of an adult fruit fly ranges between 30 and 50 days under ideal conditions. In normal conditions, however, adult fruit flies die in about 7 days.

The ideal conditions revere to a minimum temperature of 23 degrees and a maximum temperature of 28 Degrees Celsius. When the temperatures are set at those levels, then a fruit fly will live its full life span of 50 days.

Setting your air conditioner at cold temperatures will kill fruit flies because they can only live in warm temperatures that are moist and full of moisture. When it is warm, a female fruit fly is able to copulate and lay as many as 500 eggs which can lead to the rapid multiplication of these nasty bugs.

The life span of a fruit fly egg

Once the eggs hatch into larvae, they feed on the food drawn from their immediate nesting environment for a period of 4 days, absorbing the nutrients necessary to start the transformation into adult fruit flies.

After that the larvae move to dry, dark areas in readiness for pupation. Pupation takes about four days and occur inside a hard dark pupal case that develops as the larvae transforms into a pupa.

At the end of pupation, the fruit fly will have developed legs and wings and is finally ready to emerge as an adult. In just 2 days the adult will be ready to start its own generation of fruit flies as it lives through its short lifespan.

Factors That Influence Fruit Fly Life Span 

As we have already mentioned, the average fruit fly lifespan in ideal conditions is 4 to 7 weeks (30-50 days). This depends on numerous environmental factors like temperature, food, and population; e.g. whether they are overcrowded or not.

1. Temperature

Temperature is the most significant factor in the development of fruit flies. It has a significant influence on fruit fly lifespan.  In addition to influencing the lifespan of a fruit fly (an adult), temperature also has great significance on the life cycle of a fruit fly.

As The University of Arizona Center for Insect Science Education Outreach says, it takes 10 days for an egg to develop into an adult fruit fl at 25˚C  (room temperature), 13 days at 20˚C, and a whole 90 days at 15˚C.

2. Population

In overcrowded environments, a fruit fly’s life span may be reduced to 12 days according to The University of Arizona Center for Insect Science Education Outreach.

When they are many in numbers, it means that they will be struggling for food and survival. Food will there fore become a problem and the weak ones will eventually die before living their maximum cycle.

3. Genetics

The genetic makeup of a fruit fly can also influence their lifespan. As The University of Arizona Center for Insect Science Education Outreach, mutant flies tend to have a generally shorter lifespan.

Fruit Fly Larvae

Fruit fly eggs usually hatch into larva within 24 hours of being laid. Fruit fly larvae continue to feed and grow over a period of 4 days, getting all their nourishment needs from their immediate environment. The period may, however, be longer than 4 days at lower temperatures.

The larvae feed on sugar from the fermenting fruits but can as well feed on the microorganisms responsible for the decomposition of the fruits or vegetables.

The larvae have a transparent skin which can allow you to see inside organs e.g. gonads (especially in male larvae), intestines, etc. The larvae molt twice after 24 hour and 48 hour of hatching, resulting in 3 instars – that is, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd instar larvae respectively.

After the 3rd instar stage, the larvae starts to move to dry, dark areas, ready to go into the next stage – pupal stage – where they then developed adult organs e.g. wings and legs etc, ready to emerge from their pupal cases (cocoons) as sexually mature adults.

Fruit Fly Larvae Size

Fruit fly larvae are the tiny white maggots with no defined head that emerge from your overripe fruits out of nowhere. The larvae continues increasing in size as they feed and grow and molt (twice) until finally they develop the hard encapsulate that they will live in through the entire pupal stage.

The small size of fruit fly larva makes it very difficult to trace them in your kitchen and just as hard to detect them on fruits (from the supermarket).

Factors that increase the life span of a fruit fly

You may right now be wondering what attracts those little flies after noticing their increasing numbers at home. If you have not removed things that attract them, they will keep coming back even if you use the best ways to keep fruit flies away.

As the name suggests, fruit flies are most attracted to overripe and rotting fruits even though they can as well come in after detecting some rotting vegetables or other organic substances like mushrooms, sap flaxes etc.

Fruit flies feed on the sugar in fermenting fruits as well as the bacteria decomposing the fruits. Those factors will increase the life span of a fruit fly and they will continue to breed and lay eggs.

The fruits in addition provide adult fruit flies with an ideal environment for laying their eggs which then hatch into larvae. Those will eventually undergo metamorphosis (a change in life forms) to become adult fruit flies.

What do fruit flies like?

Apart from fruits and vegetables, fruit flies can as well get attracted by any sugary substance in your home. For example, they may get attracted in a bakery by spilled and fermenting flavorings that have mixed with water.

The fermenting sugars present in alcoholic beverages can as well act as bait for fruit flies. So, if you have an empty but unwashed glass of wine in your kitchen, it could be their allure.

You can as well bring fruits into your home from the supermarket or grocery store when they are already carrying fruit fly eggs; these will eventually hatch and grow into adult fruit flies.

Controlling fruit flies in the kitchen is very difficult because there is always something to eat. Dirty areas like garbage dumps, trash cans, drains, etc. can also attract fruit flies since they often harbor decaying organic materials.

References:

  1. The University of Arizona: The Mediterranean fruit fly
  2. UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: Fruit flies by Michael F. Potter, Extension Entomologist, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture