What is the Difference Between a Fruit Fly and a Drain Fly?

drain flies or fruit flies

Spotting some fruit flies or drain flies in your home can be an unpleasant surprise. It is even worse when they appear in someone’s local business. It is quite hard to sell something when there are flies camping on it, right?

In that case, your place is definitely going to need some pest control. Understanding the differences between fruit flies and drain flies is the first and most important step. Once you are able to differentiate between them, you can start thinking about where they are coming from.

Each of them has its own preferred breeding ground, diet and reproductive habits. These are key information for fly control. With fruit flies, getting rid of fruit that is laying around uneaten is a great way to start.

Drain flies, on the other hand, don’t care about fruits at all and live on the decaying organic matter they find in drains. The main problem with them is that they spread bacteria by flying around and touching everything.

Since they are as dirty as the places they live and breed in, you really don’t want them to contaminate your food. In this article, we are going to talk about the main differences between drain flies and fruit flies. Knowing these differences is an important step towards effective pest control.

Are Drain Flies the Same as Fruit Flies?

Before you start laying fruit fly traps and pouring cider vinegar down the drain, you need to know which type of insect is in your house. First off, both the fruit fly and the drain fly measure about an eighth of an inch. Fortunately, they are rather different when it comes to their appearance.

Since they don’t live on the same diet and do not inhabit the same area for breeding either, they are surely not from the same family. The fruit fly spends most of its time in the kitchen or similar areas that offer rotting or stale foods.

The female prefers fruits and vegetables when it comes to laying eggs. Since the larvae are already born in rotten food, they have something to consume right away. Drain flies are different in this regard. They prefer standing water and slime-like substances that contain plenty of decaying organic matter.

That is also pretty much what drain flies eat. Therefore, shower drains, bathroom sinks, kitchen drains, pipe leakages, garbage containers and similar spots are ideal for them. Knowing their preferred breeding spots helps with pest control and preventing fly infestation.

What Does a Drain Fly Look Like?

They might look similar to fruit flies but drain flies actually prefer to stay around wet drains and other similar wet areas. Of course, any shallow standing water is great for them but they mainly prefer drains. Often times, their black larvae appear in the toilet as well.

The reason why drain flies are often called moth flies is because they are quite similar to moths. Their wings have a particular pattern and they are also covered with hairs. Just take a look at their head and if it is completely furry, then what you are witnessing is definitely a drain fly.

drain fly aka moth fly
this is how drain fly looks like

In kitchen sinks, garbage cans and toilets, there can be plenty of decaying or fermenting organic matter. These are the main spots but this matter can form pretty much anywhere there is some water. Finding a drain fly in your house means that there is a breeding spot near it.

What makes this obvious is the fact that drain flies are not very good at flying. Therefore, they don’t really want to leave the area where they get their food from. They are either gray or brownish with visible veins on their wings. Just like moths, they also have antennae.

People usually find them on walls, which usually means there is a drain nearby that causes the fly infestation. The best way to prevent drain fly infestation is to put in the effort and keep those drains clean. Pest control also includes cleaning rarely used drains from time to time and fixing leakages.

closeup of drain fly wing
closeup of drain fly’s wing

We also recommend you to use dish soap that doesn’t let grease form in your drain. There are plenty of them available at local or online shops that simply make grease disappear from your sink. Dish soap sprays that contain borax can be used to kill drain flies in a matter of minutes.

If you find small black drain worms in the shower, you can also follow the above mentioned methods.

How do You Identify a Fruit Fly?

If you spot a fly in the fruit bowl as it is having a feast on one of the fruits there, it is most likely a fruit fly. They live on rotting vegetables and fruits, which are also ideal places for them to lay eggs. People can become the victim of fly infestation just by buying fruits at the grocery store and bringing them home.

Fermented foods that fruit flies prefer to consume also include stale wine, juices, cider vinegar, apple cider vinegar and beer. All these things can be typically found in the kitchen. This is why they stay and reproduce there as long as there is such a great supply of fruit fly foods.

fruit fly
this is how fruit fly looks like

When it comes to their appearance, fruit flies have either black or red eyes. The rest of their body is pretty much evenly colored except their abdomen, which has dark stripes. While the red-eyed ones are of the same size as drain flies, the black-eyed ones are slightly bigger.

Compared to house flies, they are really not as big. However, this doesn’t make them less annoying as they buzz around in the kitchen looking for fermenting leftovers. This is why it is important to remove all the rotting fruits or cider vinegar, beer, apple cider vinegar or wine that you have left open.

Keeping the kitchen and the garbage can area clean is a great way to get rid of fruit flies. There are also options such as setting up a fruit fly trap, using high-quality dish soap in the kitchen and drain cleaner for fly control.

We also covered the Drain Fly Life Cycle topic on this site.

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