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Fruit flies are tiny gnat-like airborne insects that are commonly encountered within kitchens and/or congregating on open food sources, such as fruit bowls and discarded food scraps in trash bins and sink drains. Fruit flies consume, breed within, and ultimately ruin fruits as well as vegetables, but any sort of moist fermenting material will attract fruit flies to a home. Fruit flies tend to locate rotting organic matter within indoor drains, garbage disposals, opened beverage containers, trashcans, outdoor compost piles, damp mop heads and rags. Female fruit flies place thousands of eggs in these microbe-rich materials, and these eggs mature into flying adults within one single week under ideal indoor conditions. This is why fruit fly infestations will grow to manageable proportions if pest control measures are not promptly taken. In addition to their fast breeding rate, fruit flies increase their presence within a home by producing pheromones that attract additional fruit flies. Until recently, the manner in which fruit flies disperse pheromones into the air was not known to researchers, but a newly published study has revealed that these pheromones are emitted from fruit fly excrement, which is abundant within infested homes.

Many animals communicate with their own species by secreting particular odors known as “pheromones.” Pheromones typically emanate from an animal’s body through sweat, specialized excretory organs, and sometimes through urine, but fruit flies communicate via their feces. A recently published study has found that fruit fly feces, rather than fruit flies themselves, emanate pheromone odors that strongly attract other fruit flies. It does not take many fruit flies a lot of time to deposit excrement within every breeding site within a home, and their excrement promotes further breeding. The study showed that male fruit fly excrement attracts both male and female fruit flies and stimulates breeding activity. When feces were removed from the laboratory setting, the fruit fly specimens no longer showed courtship behaviors. Fruit flies can be recognized for their small size and yellow-colored exterior. Both male and female fruit flies appear similar to common houseflies, but fruit flies are well known for having red eyes and dark bands on their abdomen. One single female fruit fly can lay 500 eggs within a home at a time, and these eggs mature into adults within one to two weeks.

Have you ever found fruit flies in your home? Were they in your kitchen?