How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Fruit flies (Vinegar flies)—Drosophila spp.

Adult fruit flies are attracted to overripe, fermenting fruit of all kinds.


Fruit fly adults are small, yellowish or brown flies with red eyes, about 0.12 inch long. Larvae are small, white, legless maggots that may grow up to 0.2 inch long.

Life cycle

Fruit flies lay large numbers of eggs on fruit, and the larvae feed on the fruit. The females lay a maximum of 26 eggs per day or 500 to 700 eggs in a 25- to 30-day life span. Fruit flies are active during periods of warm weather; single generations may develop in less than a week when temperatures are between 80° and 89°F. A cycle may take 70 days during the winter. Temperatures above 105°F kill adults in a few minutes.


Larvae, or maggots, feed on overripe fruit and may spread yeasts that cause souring.


Use sanitation as much as possible when conditions are favorable for fruit fly buildup. Whenever feasible, remove overripe fruit. When possible, remove nearby sources of ripe fruit, such as old citrus fruit left on the ground.

Fruit fly adult
Fruit fly adult

Fruit fly larva feeding in fruit
Fruit fly larva feeding in fruit

Fruit fly pupa6
Fruit fly pupa

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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