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About the enemy

The enemy is fruit flies. AKA vinegar flies, wine flies, pomace flies, grape flies, drain flies or if you want to get technical: drosophila. They have many names because there are over 1000 species. Adults have red eyes and yellow-brown bodies and are about 1/8th of an inch long. They are weak fliers, but what they lack in flying prowess they make up for in other departments. Females are generally ready to go 8-12 hours after “birth” and males can get the job done in 10 minutes. Though the number varies with species they lay about 100 eggs, some species 400 or even more. They hatch in 12 -15 hours. In short, their typical life cycle is egg to adult in 6 to 10 days. If you do the math, killing each one you happen to see flying around would be a fruitless effort.

They have a world wide habitat and survive in swamps, deserts, mountains, bars and restaurants. They are found in every state in the Union.

Fruit flies like overripe to rotten fruits and vegetables not just ripe ones. They also enjoy liquor, beer, wine, fruit juice, cider and soft drinks along with the empty containers where these refreshments are stored. Even fumes from liquor are OK with them since they can convert it into food. They can be perfectly happy with the yeast in baked goods or food scraps fermenting in a crevice behind the glass washer. In a pinch an empty ketchup bottle comes in handy. And when times are tough, garbage cans, unclean mops, dish rags, and the waste water from refrigerators and ice bins. But no self respecting fruit fly will miss a chance at the gelatinous material found in drain pipes; hence the nick name drain flies.

Fruit flies tend to give you the most trouble in late summer to early fall when they head indoors to keep warm since they are cold blooded. And I do mean trouble. It has been said that successful control of fruit flies requires the elimination of all possible breeding sites. Oh really? Whoever said that has not crawled around behind a bar lately. On a positive note I understand they are very helpful in the study of genetics.

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