Do Fruit Flies Bite?

Answer to the question do fruit flies bite or not with all the explanations and examples.
By
Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
reviewed
Reviewed By
Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: December 21, 2022
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Intro

Though fruit flies are small, they’re excellent flyers, and they can beat their wings up to 200 times a second. And while they sort of look cute, small as they are, they’re most certainly considered a pest. You definitely shouldn’t wait to do something about them once fruit flies have settled into your home. But tend to be put into the same group as other flies, namely those that bite. But do fruit flies bite as well? In this article, we’ll explain to you what fruit flies are, whether they bite and carry disease, and how to get rid of fruit flies.

What are Fruit Flies?

The most common fruit fly belongs to the genus Drosophila. The one you’ve encountered inside your home is most likely the Drosophila melanogaster. While most people know them as fruit flies because of their preference for fruit and vegetables, others may call them vinegar flies, as they’re also attracted to the vinegar by-product that comes from the fermentation of fruit.

Do Fruit Flies Bite?

These little bugs almost look like a miniature versions of a fly, only measuring up to 1/8 inch when fully grown, and can be tan to black in color. Their most recognizable feature is their big, red eyes. They have a relatively short lifespan of up to 30 days, at which time they can become quite a nuisance, as female fruit flies are capable of laying up to 500 eggs.

Why do I Have a Problem With Fruit Flies?

Even if you keep your house clean, it’s still possible for fruit fly problems to occur. Most of the time, fruit flies find their way into your home thanks to infected food from the grocery store, though it’s also possible for you to take them inside from your own vegetable garden.

Fruit flies thrive on rotting, decaying, and fermenting produce like fruits and vegetables, which means they can also be attracted to liquids like wine and beer. There are places in every home that are ideal spots for fruit flies to start breeding once they have found their way inside, either because you accidentally took them inside or because they led themselves in through an open door or window. Dirty drains, the bottom of the garbage bin, your garbage disposal, and places similar to these are all good places for fruit flies to settle in and start breeding.

Do Fruit Flies Bite?

When you’ve found fruit flies in your home, you might be asking yourself, “Do fruit flies bite?” The short answer is; no. Fruit flies don’t have a mouth like they would need in order to bite, nor do they have teeth to bite with, either. Instead, they have a kind of straw with which they eat.

Do Fruit Flies Bite Humans?

So, why are there people who believe that fruit flies do bite people? Usually, when someone thinks they’ve been bitten by a fruit fly, they’ve really been bitten by another kind of fly that closely resembles the fruit fly. A good example of another fly being mistaken for a fruit fly is the biting midge or fungus gnat. These little flying insects are also a pest and, on closer inspection, look more like mosquitoes than fruit flies. Other possible culprits could be deer flies, horse flies, black flies, and flies or stable flies.

Do Fruit Flies Bite Animals?

No, fruit flies are not able to bite at all. That’s why fruit flies do not bite animals. They are physically unable to bite. So, if you’re wondering, “Do fruit flies bite cats?” or “Do fruit flies bite dogs?” the answer remains the same. Your pets, and all animals, are safe from any kind of stinging or biting from the fruit fly. However, there are some other factors to consider.

Are Fruit Flies Dangerous?

For the majority of people, fruit flies are just highly annoying but not actually dangerous. Not unless you have a compromised immune system or small children. But even in those cases, it’s not because fruit flies themselves are the problem, but rather their habit of walking around on rotting and decaying produce and environments, places that are riddled with bacteria and disease. This means that it’s a given that their tiny feet and bodies are possible carriers of bacteria and disease as well.

Do Fruit Flies Carry Disease?

It has been found that fruit flies are, in fact, also quite capable to transfer Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli Trusted Source Fruit Flies as Potential Vectors of Foodborne Illness - PubMed Fruit flies are a familiar sight in many food service facilities. Although they have been long considered as "nuisance pests," some of their typical daily activities suggest they may pose a potential public health threat. The aim of this study was to provide evidence of the ability of small flies to … pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov from contaminated food and surfaces to non-contaminated surfaces. This should give you another good reason always to wash your fruit and vegetables before you consume them and ensure the area you’re preparing your food in is also clean.

Are Fruit Flies Harmful if Eaten?

Do Fruit Flies Bite?

With that being said, and as long as we’re not talking about a full-blown infestation where your food and environment are highly contaminated by the fruit flies, eggs, and larvae, the acids in your stomach will make sure that fruit flies are not particularly harmful to you. If you do get sick from eating something, it’s unlikely that a fruit fly or two was the cause. You’ll probably never even realize that you’ve accidentally eaten a fruit fly, and chances are you’ve eaten a few in your life already. However, this should give you more reason to always clean your fruit and vegetables thoroughly before preparing them and/or eating them, even if the food will be exposed to heat.

How to Control Fruit Flies?

True fruit fly infestations are not easy to eradicate. As the females are able to lay up to 500 eggs in their lifetime, it is vital to do everything you can to fight the infestation. This starts with the removal of the food and breeding source.

Any place that may be moist, or even has stagnant water present, and has any kind of organic material can be a possible source of the infestation. This includes places like trash cans, drains, garbage disposals, and even your mop.

Regular Surface Cleaning

Make a habit of cleaning any surface, but especially those that regularly come into contact with food, like your counter . Change out and wash dish cloths on a regular basis Trusted Source Bacteria on Kitchen Towels Researchers found E. coli and other bacteria on dish towels in a study. www.healthline.com , and don’t let that sponge get too dirty, either. Take out the trash before it starts to smell. Once it starts to smell, this is a sure sign that fermentation has taken place and fruit flies are having a feast.

Clean Your Drains

Drains are the perfect place for a fruit fly infestation to settle in before you even know what’s happening. They’re moist and often contain traces of food that fruit flies live off and breed in. Clean your drains regularly to prevent this from happening. 

Properly Store Fruits and Vegetables

Always wash your fruits and vegetables before consuming them, but it is also a good practice to do so before you store them, whether you’ve bought them at the grocery store or taken them from your own garden. By storing produce in the refrigerator, you prolong its shelf life and make it harder for fruit flies to settle in. 

Use Deterring Scents

A cheap and pleasant way to discourage fruit flies from settling into your home is the use of scents that, to us, are usually pleasant. It’s an option to make a spray with essential oils that have been diluted in water, with which you spray the environment where you are prone to find fruit flies. The only downside to this natural solution is that you will have to spray your home repeatedly. Another option would be to make small scent bags with dried herbs, which you store in logical places around the house. Scents that work to deter fruit flies are lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, eucalyptus, and clove. 

Use Homemade Traps

Do Fruit Flies Bite?

There are different kinds of traps you can make yourself, with ingredients you’ll already have in your cupboard most of the time. You’ll have made yourself a bottle and plastic wrap trap or jar and funnel wrap in no time, but the easiest one is combining the ingredients in a bowl and letting the fruit flies trap themselves. For one bowl, you’ll need:

  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of water
  • A few drops of regular dish soap
  • A small container

Put a bowl of mixed ingredients in different areas around your house, the infected area in specific. The sweetness of the sugar and apple cider vinegar will attract the fruit flies, while the dish soap will render them unable to fly away, in effect drowning them.

Store-bought Products

DIY traps are not everyone’s cup of tea. Luckily, there are countless products on the market that will help you control fruit flies. To make the search for the right product for your situation easier, you can always look at the best fruit fly traps or the best fly repellents, which usually have a multifunctional purpose, and go from there. Depending on the severity and placement of the infestations, the approach of each product can greatly differ, so make sure to take your time in comparing your options. For example, whenever you’re out camping, you’ll want to take something like the OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent Aerosol with you, as opposed to something that is made for inside your home.

How to Prevent a Fruit Fly Infestation?

Prevention is always better than cure, and in the case of fruit flies, the easiest way to do this is by keeping food sources properly stored and removing them from your house before they start decaying. Also, properly clean your produce before bringing it inside, even if it’s from your garden. Set up fruit fly traps, like the Fruit Fly BarPro, that will take care of any stray fruit flies that may happen to find their way inside through an open door or window and keep your environment clean in order to prevent new infestations from happening.

Fruit Fly Allergy: Symptoms & Treatment

Why do people think fruit flies bite humans if they don’t have a mouth or teeth to bite with? Most of the time, when an allergic reaction happens, it’s because of simple contact with the little insects. Because they live and breed in decaying and rotting matter, you’re probably reacting to the bacteria and traces of disease that fruit flies can carry with them.

If you do have an allergic reaction, there is a small chance this means there are respiratory problems Trusted Source Respiratory allergy to laboratory fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) - PubMed Workers in a scientific laboratory, complaining of respiratory symptoms related to their contact with fruit flies, were tested to detect allergy to these insects. Seven of 22 of these individuals had respiratory symptoms, and six of these seven demonstrated both immediate-type skin reactions and pos … pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov , though more research about this possibility is needed. It is much more likely to notice small, red bumps on the infected area, closely resembling mosquito bites but smaller. Do fruit flies bite like mosquitoes? If you don’t know any better, it’s only reasonable to think you’ve been bitten by a fruit fly, but this is simply not possible.

There is no need to worry; usually, these symptoms will resolve independently. But, given that fruit flies can be carriers of more serious diseases like E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria, you should always wash the infected area with a little bit of soap, and you should be fine.

Always contact a doctor when symptoms seem unreasonable, become worse over time, or are persistent. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Final Thoughts

Now you know all you need to know about fruit flies and what the answer is to the question, do fruit flies bite or sting humans? No, they do not. They are unable to bite because they don’t have a mouth or teeth. That’s also why they won’t be biting your pets or any other animal for that matter. Next time you find fruit flies in your home, and you happen to get some kind of reaction, you can say with confidence that it wasn’t because of this tiny pest. So, one more time for the road, do fruit flies bite? No. Fruit flies are a lot of different things, but biters are not!

References

1.
Fruit Flies as Potential Vectors of Foodborne Illness - PubMed
Fruit flies are a familiar sight in many food service facilities. Although they have been long considered as "nuisance pests," some of their typical daily activities suggest they may pose a potential public health threat. The aim of this study was to provide evidence of the ability of small flies to …
2.
Bacteria on Kitchen Towels
Researchers found E. coli and other bacteria on dish towels in a study.
3.
Respiratory allergy to laboratory fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) - PubMed
Workers in a scientific laboratory, complaining of respiratory symptoms related to their contact with fruit flies, were tested to detect allergy to these insects. Seven of 22 of these individuals had respiratory symptoms, and six of these seven demonstrated both immediate-type skin reactions and pos …
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