The Fruit Fly Life Cycle and Lifespan

The fruit fly life cycle is a very interesting subject and is a necessary one to review if you have a few buzzing around your house. I have written briefly about this subject in another article but since then, I have been bombarded with additional questions and requests for more pictures so I decided to dedicate an entire article to this subject. Nobody likes the embarrassment of having them around your house when you have guests around to visit, not to mention the potential health risks it causes. It also gives the impression that you are unclean and although many have tried to fix the problem, unfortunately it can be very hard if you do not educate yourself about these red eyed bugs.

Fruit flies breed very fast and I have personally found that if you do not kill them at their source, you are going to be fighting a loosing battle. However, the fruit flies life cycle is actually quite amazing and will help you to understand more about how fruit flies reproduce. If you have ever wondered how fruit flies undergo the transformation from egg to that irritating bug that always seems to find its way into your fruit bowl, you have come to the right place. Understanding how they breed is one of the first steps that you can take in order to learn how to remove fruit flies. All the information has been carefully researched and will help you to learn more about the common household fruit fly in its early developmental phases. You can then use this valuable information about fruit fly reproduction to help you control your fly problem, which is the first step before you use fruit fly traps.

Fruit Fly Eggs – Where the Fruit Fly Life Cycle Begins

The First Step In The Reproduction Process

Picture of fruit fly eggs

Fruit Fly Eggs

Fruit flies usually lay their eggs in an area where their newborn babies have a place in which to feed when they hatch. This includes the Mediterranean fruit fly. This is very important as they are fairly immobile and depend upon their surroundings to sustain themselves. The most common place where a female fruit fly will lay her eggs is inside rotting fruit as the fermentation process creates additional sugar which is perfect for her offspring. The mother fruit fly also needs the temperature to be around 77 degrees Fahrenheit.

Although research shows that they can exist in slightly higher temperatures, (provided there is a high humidity) the place where she lays her eggs should not be below 20 degrees otherwise the baby fruit flies run the risk of dying which will bring an end to the life cycle of fruit fly. When she lays her eggs, she usually has enough to produce about 200-500 baby fruit flies. What makes things worse is that as soon as the female babies climb out of these fruit fly eggs, they are able to start reproducing about 24 hours later. The entire process of laying eggs to the time it takes for there to be a irritating fruit fly buzzing around your head is about 7 to 13 days so its no wonder that once you have a fruit fly problem that it can be so hard to get rid of it.

Fruit Fly Larvae – Halt! Maggot Time!

The Second Step In The Fruit Fly Life Cycle

Picture of fruit fly larvae

Fruit Fly Larvae

Fruit fly larvae is the next phase once the eggs have hatched. If you recall, fruit fly eggs take about 10 days to hatch, provided the conditions are right (temperature, etc) and these little worms are what pop out of those little shells. Their immediate requirement is to feed on a surgary substance and hence why it was critical that their mom placed them in a suitable area.

Worms are typically defined as having a long, thin body whereas the larvae we are referring to is short and fat. Take a few moments to examine the picture on the left to see what I mean. These maggots stay in this phase for a couple days, gouging themselves on as much food as they possibly can. Once your fruit has been infected with them, please make sure that you throw them away immediately and not just cut off the bad part. The reasoning behind it is because there is usually a large amount of bacteria present and exposure to it can cause you to become very sick so rather be safe then sorry. For more information, check out this article that contains info about the various stages of fruit fly growth.

Fruit Fly Puparium – The Metamorphosis Begins

The Third Step In The Fruit Fly Life Cycle Time

Picture of fruit fly puparium

Fruit Fly Puparium

At this point the larvae has consumed enough food and grown enough to grow a hard outer skin that will house it for about 4-6 days. While in this protect layering, a process known as metamorphosis takes place. It is a natural phenomenon that allows a living creature to change from one form to another and is an important part of a fruit fly lifespan. In this case, it will be transforming from a fat maggot to a winged insect which is nothing short of amazing. Its important to note that during the fruit fly puparium phase, the larvae does not feed on anything at all and depends completely on the food that it has stored in the previous stage of its lifespan. The fruit fly is almost ready to be born and reproduce and its been under a week since it was conceived. This extremely fast reproduction rate is one of the reasons why its hard to free yourself from a fruit fly infestation.

The Baby Fruit Fly Arrives!

The Last Step In The Fruit Fly Life Cycle

Last step of the fruit fly reproduction phases

Fruit Fly Life Cycle

As soon as the fruit fly comes out of the temporary home that kept it safe for a couple days, it is able to fly and feed on your precious fruit and vegetables. After a mere 60 hours or so, these new fruit flies are able to find a mate and lay their own set of eggs, with each generation bringing about 300 new fruit flies into existence. If you already have a major infestation, I highly recommend that you follow this article on how to make your own fruit fly trap from home.

So as you can see, these fruit flies can not only be a frustration to you and your family, but they can also pose a rather serious health risk, given that they hang around rotten food that’s fill of bacteria so if you have any around your house, I suggest that you try and get rid of them as soon as possible. Thanks for reading my article and don’t forget to share it with your friends so that they can also learn about the life cycle of fruit flies! 🙂


  1. Avatar Isabelle says:

    Hi- I use a “compound bucket” (a 5-gallon container) with a lid as my outdoor compost bin. I usually dump it out once a week at our town’s compost site. Fruit flies (which are both flying around the outside the bucket, as well as sneaking inside) lay eggs on the outside of the lid. When it rains and water collects on the lid, I can see hundreds of fruit fly maggots submerged in the water. We have been collecting them to feed to our pet newts (eft stage). The thing that is interesting is that the maggots seem to be able to survive for quite a while in the water, i.e. they don’t drown. How long can a fruit fly maggot survive submerged in water? Hi again- Just told my daughter that I had posted my question on your site and she added: The larvae are “comatose” in the water, but once on a dry surface, they begin squirming like crazy. I read on another website that there is research on drowning being done on adult fruit flies. An adult fruit fly can survive up to 12 hours under water by going into a “coma”, up to 72 hours if the water is very cold. Upon being taken out of the water, they come out of the coma. Perhaps this is what is happening with the larvae?

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Isabelle! I don’t know offhand how long they can survive underwater but yes, it is the same thing that is happening. Maybe insects can last a very long time underwater by doing that, fruit flies included (especially in the larvae stages). Hope that helps and thanks for stopping by, best regards to your daughter 🙂

  2. Avatar Dina says:

    Dear Natasha

    Thanks so much for the great info … it was my garbage disposal where they began I figured out … I’ve done the cleaning and set the traps but theres a lot flying around the kitchen and den … will they find the traps and die or lay eggs someplace else ? Nonfood or fruit anywhere – no place to host the comditions you described – I don’t think … I’m freaked out by this whole thing … help!

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Dina! If you have the traps out, you keep everything clean (spotless for now) and take out the rubbish immediately, you will find their numbers decreasing. If it seems worse after 5 days, let me know and I will help you.

  3. Avatar Karen Fallot says:

    Thank you for the information–I wondered how long the lifespan was and how long the different stages take because we’re anxiously awaiting our fruit flies to become adults so that we can feed our baby praying mantids! I’m glad it’s a quick turnaround; we need more fast!

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Karen! Hehe awesome, thanks for visiting my blog and for leaving a comment!

  4. Avatar Glenn Sloggett says:

    I came across a new way of getting rid of Fruit Flies much better than vinegar traps. I was washing dish and letting them soak in the sink when I noticed the large amount of died fruit flies in the foam. So I took some other containers and filled them with soapy water making sure there was foam on the top and placed them around the house. Well to my amazement these traps caught hundreds of flies in just a short time, the soap I was using is Palmolive Ruby Red Grapefruit dish soap. I haven’t tried any other brands because this worked so well. I tried just the soap but it didn’t work with out the foam. Hope this will help others with this pest.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Glenn! Goodness, that sounds fantastic! I will definitely check this removal process out, thanks for sharing your wisdom!

  5. Avatar Gary MacPHEE says:

    I live in a rural farm area on the Eastern Shore of VA? “(Delmarva Penninsula). We got bugs tis time of year. End of Sept. through Oct. Corn & soy are main crops & the flies are attracted to the decaying corn silk.
    They stopped planting tomatoes 2 yrs. ago. Thank the Lord! We had more fruit flies that you could imagine.
    They’re a part of life if you live anywhere near a farm. So, just live with it & stock up on red wine vinegar.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Gary! Thanks for sharing your experience, best of luck fighting these little beasts hehe.

  6. Avatar Tiffany says:

    I have one of those motion sensor garbage cans and this is the second year I have found these little pests maggots running around my trash can lid this time I took it apart and they are inside where the motor is too !!! And in my charcoal filter soo gross ! Hopefully I can tape the holes and they won’t lay anymore eggs !!

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Tiffany! I hope so as well, let me know how it goes!

  7. Avatar Travis Young says:

    I was separating my milk kefir last night and I looked down after a minute and found a fruit fly (knat looking flying bug) down in my kefir grains and fresh mil. i immediately pulled it out and put it down the sink. Do you think the fly would have had time to lay it’s eggs? It was actually down in the liquid when I found it.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Travis, hard to say, but I personally wouldn’t worry. Hope that helps.

  8. Avatar Addie says:

    Thank you so much for this, I am doing a Science Fair project on them. This is going to be quite useful. Hope you are having a wonderful day!

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Addie! It is a pleasure, good luck!

  9. Avatar Ric Lambart says:

    Hi Natasha,

    Great write up on the ubiquitous fruit fly, which comes to visit my place every summer – or whenever it’s warm enough for a few days. I’ve found two methods which seem to work very well to either eliminate them altogether or keep them from being populous enough to even be noticed:

    1) Take a mason jar and, using the ring styled lid (rather than the full cap/lid), simply quickly roll a small sheet of paper into a cone, leaving a tiny hole (just big enough for the typical local fruit fly to pass) in the narrow end, then, holding it pointed end into the jar, bend over the edges touching the jar’s open rim, and then trim off the excess of the paper outside of the opening. When I screw on the lid/ring, the assembly becomes a perfect trap – into which I of course plant a ripe banana or some other extra ripe sweet fruit.

    The little buzzing creatures soon detect the delectable contents of the jar left sitting on a kitchen window sill, crawl through the tiny hole at the base of the cone, and remain for the rest of their days inside the jar feasting on the fruit but out of my home’s open spaces (seem impossible for them to remember how they got into the trap!).

    When I get several hundred of them inside, I take the jar a good distance from my home and release them into the wild. Being a vegan, I always have a comparatively huge amount of ripening fruit around, which seems to attract them from my compost area in the back yard. And, for those not inclined to have mercy on the tiny defenseless insects, when the population becomes overly annoying inside the trap, it can be place in the freezer over night, where it will soon become a mass genocidal grave for these overly friendly critters.

    2) The second approach, for those inclined to prefer quickly terminating their little lives, is to put some relatively human-safe Truvia® sweetener inside the jar, since that rather quickly kills them [it’s the Erythritol they add to the natural Stevia in the product that’s deadly – see article in Nature World News – – – and so I choose not to use it.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Ric! Thanks for your fantastic comment. I really appreciate it. The steps you provide will be super useful, both to me and the community. Have a good one!

  10. Avatar Kate says:

    Thx, I really appreciate it. I am doing science fair on this topic

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Kate! It is a pleasure, hope it goes well 🙂

  11. Avatar Joe Fro says:

    Thanks, this was really interesting and if there is interesting facts for a project thx.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Joe! It is a pleasure!

  12. Avatar Noah Schwab says:

    thank you for your article helped me with my lab report on the drosophila population.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hey Noah, it is a pleasure!

  13. Avatar Mladen says:

    Hi Natasha,

    can you tell me how often do adult female fruit flies lay eggs?


    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Mladen, in the right conditions, every couple days. Hope that helps!

  14. Avatar John says:

    Hello Natasha,
    I have been having a problem with fruit flies lately that is just horrible and we are doing everything we can to get rid of these nasty little buggers. However, during our time with these fruit flies 🙁 we have had the unfortunate circumstances to be afforded the “opportunity” to witness their life cycle and other aspects of their lives which has brought about a question of which I have not been able to find an answer although I am very curious and would like to know. We have noticed that while the fruit flies are breeding, and we eradicate them, i.e. squash them dead, we have seen on several occasions that they seem to have some type of small flea like critter(s) attached to them that attempt to crawl away after we have killed the obvious fruit flies. These bugs are very small, I would say about 1/5 to 1/10 the size of the adult fly and do not appear to hop or fly, but rather crawl away slowly. They resemble a very small beetle or flea and we have not been able to find any info on them anywhere despite finding them with these flies on a regular basis for a while now. It’s almost as if they are some type parasitic creature that may live off the fruit fly. We have found as many as 3 of them that appear to be attached to the breeding fruit flies when we kill them and they are harder than the fruit flies themselves and are not effected when swatted, although they can be killed if pressed hard enough. It seems odd that we have not been able to find anything about this since we have seen it so many times and we wondered what these things are. Please help!

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi John, to be honest, I have not witness such things so it is a little hard for me to propose an answer, please could you take a photo and use the contact form to send it to me, very interested!

      • Avatar Tera says:

        We have recently been fighting off our fruit fly problem and have seen great results so far. However, we also have noticed some kind of tiny bug that at first glance seems to be just a small piece of lint or fuzz. Very concerned!!

        • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

          Hi Tera! Would love to help you but I would need a bit more details about this mysterious bug, perhaps a picture or something? Thanks

  15. Avatar Fred says:

    Thank you Natasha! If something like juice, soda, or milk were spilled on a carpet could this be a source if were they are breeding? I cleaned the carper as beat I could without a carpet cleaner. I clean my trash can but always seem to find them flying around when I open it??? It is the foot type that opens. Is there any way to keep them away from the trash can or use a chemical that will keep then away. I currently have 7 traps set, one with apple butter, 2 with a rotten banana, and the others have apple cider vinegar with a dash of dishsoap. All are covered with plastic wrap with holes in the wrap (I used a toothpick). Could the holes be too big? All have flies and the ones in the kitchen are attracting more. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Keep up the good work!! Your providing us with very useful information. 🙂

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Fred! Yes that is possible. To kill them around your bin, just spray an insecticide around the area. Other then that, just kill on sight and keep using the traps and things will improve 🙂

  16. Avatar Nayan Taunk says:

    Very useful information for me. Few chemical/pesticide measures would be more helpful for me as a farmer. Thank you anyway.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hey Nayan! Its a pleasure!

  17. Avatar Tony says:

    I live in the Philippines and I see the same type of shells hanging or attached to my new walls around the house, the shells are dry and I see a little worm wiggling, I pick them and throw them in the toilet, some are tiny others are much bigger, at times after picking them I would notice another shell even that seems to pop out of nowhere, is there any chemical to control these fruit-flies larves?

    Thank you.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hey Tony! While there is probably a wide range of options, regular household bleach would be sufficient to kill them. Mix it with water and apply, as long as it reaches them, they will die. Good luck!

  18. Avatar help please! says:

    So have been having some fruit fly issues. finially found the source in a cabinet that we never use. 2 bags of rotten potatoes, somehow left there and forgotten. So to ensure no more eggs, any special cleaning products I should use? Bleach? Hopefully I can survive the cleaning process, cant stop gagging, so discusting. Granted just so u know the house were in now is my parents and dad died mom moved out. Hard to tell how long those taters have been there. Just surprised weve never smelled anything or seen any fruit flys until it started getting colder out. But any suggestions would be a great help 🙂 I also have a picture, but it wont let me put it on here.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hey! Yes bleach will do the job well. I recommend that you get rid of any other rotten food and keep your outside bins properly sealed. Other than that, perhaps try build a couple of my DIY fruit fly traps, they are easy to make and super cheap. Good luck!

  19. Avatar Adela says:

    My personal favorite way to get rid of fruit flies to to put a splash of sweet wine, cider, or fruity vinegar in a glass with another splash of water and a few drops of liquid soap. Mix together, leave out overnight, and presto! You’ll catch most of your fruit flies in a day or two.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hey Adela! Thanks for your suggestions, much appreciated. 🙂

  20. Avatar Mary G. says:

    No one has mentioned my favorite way to get rid of fruit flies. I take the vacuum (hand held part) and vacuum them out of the air. If the infestation is severe, be sure to vacuum them up from cabinet doors, walls, and anywhere else they are lurking. Of course, you need to go after the source then and clean that up. I sometimes leave something “yummy” like a piece of cantaloupe rind out so it will attract the ones I’ve missed. I may have to come back several times to vacuum up more that somehow were missed. If you want to “clap” them out of the air, it helps a lot if your hands are wet.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hey Mary! Thanks for your tip, that’s actually a rather effective way to do it and requires minimal effort. Sometimes the most simple approaches will work and I appreciate your contribution to the community! 🙂

  21. Avatar Frank Benfield says:

    Thank-you for your prompt response. It’s good to know that they aren’t attacking my live plants. I haven’t tried the ammonia spray yet, but will give it a try. Again thank-you for your assistance.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hey Frank! Its a pleasure, I am glad that you have found my advice to be useful 🙂 Let me know how it goes! Cheers

  22. Avatar Frank Benfield says:

    Thank you very much for the information. I do however have a couple of questions. The first is regarding the egg laying. I have a large vegetable / flower garden,and I would like to know if they lay their eggs in growing plants, if they do, how would I combat this. The second question regards my compost bin, this seems to be the source of all the fruit flies in the known world. Perhaps I’ve exaggerated a bit there, but there seems to be a lot of them. Would it do me any good to poison them in the bin. If the answer to this is yes, do you have a poison that you would recommend [environmentally safe but effective]. Any help you could give, would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hey Frank! They will only lay their eggs in your plants if they are damaged or fermenting so if they are healthy, you won’t have a problem with this. As for your rubbish bins, I recommend using a lemon scented ammonia spray. This will kill them and also keep them away from these areas. Good luck!

      • Avatar Rhea Sonne says:

        AHA! Then, that is what I shall use in my KITCHEN!!


        Thanks for the great info!

        • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

          Yep, good luck! 🙂

  23. Avatar Adam says:

    Thank you. My fruit fly culture is taking a little longer than I would like, and I was starting to worry about running out of food for my frogs. Now I know they will pop out of those little shells very soon (t’s been 4 days already) and can stop worrying

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Its a pleasure Adam, I am glad that I could help you 😉

  24. Avatar Amberdean says:

    This was very helpful and just the right amount of info I needed…my lizards cage has guilt flys in it and I say some weird white “worm” maggot in there and I looked up fruit fly larvae and found out that’s what it was and I was very interested In it so i googled it this was the first response ….now I’m goin to go clean his cage lol

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hey Amber! Fantastic, glad you found my blog first and most importantly, I am happy that it contained what you are looking for. Responses like these encourage me to keep writing more of these free guides 🙂

  25. Avatar Tyron Ginsburg says:

    Thanks, going to use this for my school project!!!!

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Cool! Hope you get high marks 😉

    • Avatar serafina sandra says:

      Hy, im Serafina n i really do appreciate your work.Im about to sit 4 my exam tomorrow and your article really contributed to my studying.Thank you!!

      • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

        Hey Serafina! Its a pleasure, thanks for visiting my site! Best of luck for your exams!

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