Fruit Fly Lifespan

  • Written By Dan Edwards on February 2, 2021
    Last Updated: February 2, 2021

Fruit flies have different lifespans in different environmental conditions. Temperature and crowdedness can affect their development and lifespan significantly.

We’re all keen to get rid of fruit flies as soon as they show up, but can we wait it out until they live their lives? Since they can live for up to 50 days, that’s not an option.

Check out these fruit fly lifespan facts:

  • They live for approximately 40–50 days
  • The development cycle of fruit flies from eggs into fully grown adults takes 10–12 days
  • Temperature extremes make their development longer
  • An ideal temperature for their development is 82 degrees Fahrenheit

What Defines A Fruit Fly?

Drosophila is the name of the species that fruit flies belong to. They’re distinguished by their reddish-brown body, which could be seen as a blackish color, with red eyes, and two dark wings. Adults reach a size of about 1/8 of an inch.

There are different species of fruit flies, but they all fall under the umbrella of Drosophila. For example, common fruit flies are known scientifically as Drosophila melanogaster, while the Asian fruit fly is called Drosophila suzukii. They also go by names such as pomace flies, vinegar flies, or maybe even wine flies.

Their main attraction is fermented fruits. The vinegar produced as a by-product of the fermentation reaction is what attracts them to overripe fruits.

How Long Do Fruit Flies Live?

Starting from being an egg, fruit flies generally live between 40–50 days. This short lifespan is, however, quite prolific, as they pass through a couple of stages before becoming fully grown adult fruit flies.

From Egg to Larvae — 4 days

The lifespan of a fruit fly starts when the female fruit fly lays an egg, usually on fermenting fruit. This little white egg hatches into white larvae, eating from their nesting site to grow and find the energy they need to become adults. This process takes about four days.

Pupation — 4 to 6 days

The next step is pupation, and for this, the larvae need a dark and dry area. Pupation turns the legless larvae into a six-legged creature with a pair of wings — a process that takes another four days for completion. It only takes two days for recently pupated larvae to mate with other adult flies.

The Effect of Temperature on Fruit Fly Growth

Fruit flies generally take between 10 and 12 days to grow fully. However, research suggests that the development phase of fruit flies is very sensitive to temperature. While room temperature — 77 degrees Fahrenheit — is considered as their ideal living conditions, it takes them 8.5 days to fully develop at such a temperature.

At a slightly higher temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit, it takes only 7 days. At even higher temperatures, development time increases to around 11 days at a temperature of 86 degrees Fahrenheit, due to heat stress.

Colder conditions also increase development time to about 19 days for temperatures of 64 degrees Fahrenheit. Other conditions, including crowdedness, could increase development time and lead to the production of smaller flies.

Short Development Time Means Fast Reproduction

What’s dangerous here about fruit flies is their enormous reproductive ability. When we talk about this life cycle, we’re not talking about 10 or 20 eggs, but rather 500 eggs that can be laid by a single female fruit fly. Starting from being an egg, adult fruit flies can live for somewhere between 40 to 50 days, provided that they’re living at room temperature.

This time is more than enough for female fruit flies to mate and lay many batches of eggs, around 750 to 1,500 eggs in their lifetime, as research suggests.

While this stubborn infestation could be a huge annoyance, that’s not the worst of it. Experts have studied the ability of fruit flies to transmit diseases. While they can’t directly cause any harm, they’re readily capable of carrying bacteria from one place to another.

Why Do I Have Fruit Flies in My House?

Fruit flies have an excellent ability to detect the smell of vinegar and overripe fruits from a large distance. Whenever there are overripe fruits in a household, fruit flies lurk outside, hyped up by the sweet smell of good ol’ vinegar.

This means that they’re biding their time, waiting for any opportunity to enter your house, and get to the vinegar. Being such tiny creatures, a window screen could be a perfect gate for them, and if you keep leaving overripe fruit out in the open, you might be on the cusp of a fruit fly infestation.

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Getting rid of fruit flies is a two-step process:

  1. Remove the source
  2. Eliminate the fruit flies

Remove the Source

The first step is to remove and clean anything that might be of interest to fruit flies:

  • Overripe fruits and vegetables
  • Open bottles or cans of soda and alcohol
  • Trash bags and trash cans with any traces of vinegar
  • Old sponges and cleaning rags

Eliminate Fruit Flies

After a thorough inspection and cleaning of your household, you can commence with the elimination process. A simple handmade vinegar trap can be constructed to quickly catch any free fruit flies. There are a couple of designs for the vinegar trap, with the main idea being creating a vinegar bait for fruit flies, which is only accessible through a small opening.

Different Designs for Vinegar Traps

  • Pour an inch of apple cider vinegar into a cup or any container, then cover it up with a plastic bag that has a hole cut into it.
  • Otherwise, you can roll a piece of paper into a funnel and slot it into an open jar. 

If vinegar isn’t available, you can simply use a piece of banana or any other rotten fruit. After catching them, you can release them outdoors or use a pyrethrum-based insecticide to kill them.

Elimination by Insecticides

For a comprehensive elimination process, try to identify the main source of attraction, and remove it from your household. Additionally, search for their breeding area and spray it with any of the common insecticides available in stores. Several insecticides have proven to be capable of eliminating a fruit fly infestation.

Despite common insecticides yielding positive results, they may become much less effective, sooner. A study by academics from the University of Melbourne has suggested that fruit flies are building resistance towards such insecticides. Perhaps this is an additional reason to go for more natural remedies and avoid the usage of insecticides?

How to Prevent a Fruit Fly Infestation

Preventing fruit flies from developing in the first place is the ideal solution to their existence. Since fruit flies are attracted to overripe fruits, logic says that to prevent a fruit fly infestation, stop the source.

Simply make sure you never have overripe fruits exposed inside your house. You don’t have to throw them away:

  • Buy smaller portions, so they don’t become too ripe before consumption
  • Eat them more regularly
  • Store them in the refrigerator

It’s best if you also follow the same instructions mentioned above in cleaning your household before starting the eliminating process. Additionally, you can follow these precautions:

  • Cupboards: Regularly check the back of your closets and storage units for any rotten or overripe fruits and vegetables
  • Clean as you go: Clean up any fruit spillage instantly, and make sure you don’t miss a spot, especially if fruit spills below any appliance or storage unit
  • Take out the trash: Empty your trash cans regularly, and clean them every once in a while to remove any vinegar traces
  • Inspection: Practice caution when bringing fruits and vegetables inside your house, and inspect them for any signs of fruit flies, especially if they’re ripe


Fruit flies are usually nothing more than a nuisance, but they can be a big one. Depending on the temperature, their lifespan is between 40–50 days only, but this doesn’t mean they’ll go away quickly. Their rapid reproduction cycle makes them repopulate quickly and allows for a sustainable infestation. Practice the prevention methods carefully, and your house should be fruit-fly-free for a long time to come.