Can You Get Sick From Fruit Flies?

Fruit flies are a common and often overlooked household pest. They originate from Drosophila melanogaster, which is also known as vinegar flies or house flies.

Fruit flies are usually found in warm temperatures warming around rotten or fresh fruits and vegetables, or perhaps infesting drains

Can you get sick from fruit flies? Do they carry disease?

It is possible to get various illnesses from fruit flies, but it’s not a significant concern. You’re more likely to get sick from a typical housefly.

Fruit flies are a nuisance and disgusting pest. They’re gross! You should get rid of your infestation, but you probably don’t need to worry about getting sick from them or their eggs.

We’ll explain it all below.


How Do Fruit Flies Reproduce?

Fruit flies have an interesting life cycle that differs from other insects’ life cycles. The adult female fruit fly lays 500 eggs at a time on rotting fruit or in compost heaps.

The life cycle of fruit flies lasts 8-15 days which is very short compared to other similar insects

Fruit flies are a popular model organism in laboratories worldwide because they reproduce quickly. Scientists use fruit fly larvae to study how different microbes affect the development of fruit fly larvae, which is why they are considered an ideal model organism for studying disease transmission and evolution.

Fruit fly eggs can be laid in small batches on rotting fruit, tree sap, or decaying plant material. The larvae hatch from these eggs and start to feed on their food source.

After a few days, the larvae will start to spin a cocoon and go into a state called pupae. 

Once they have finished this process, they emerge as adults, which then mate with other fruit flies to produce more fruit fly eggs.

On average, fruit flies can lay approximately 1000-2000 eggs during their lifespan. The eggs take up to 24-30 hours to hatch and turn into larvae or maggots. 


Are Fruit Flies Harmful?

Fruit flies are a major pest of agriculture, and their population can grow exponentially. They spread diseases such as the citrus canker disease, which is a costly problem for farmers.

Fruit flies carry the bacterium Xanthomonas citri, which causes leaf and fruit lesions.

Although the disease is not harmful to humans, it ruins the entire population of citrus plants. Be careful if you have some lemon or other citrus plants in your home!

Fruit flies are a major pest in agriculture.


Can You Get Sick From Fruit Flies?

Fruit flies can transmit diseases through their saliva or feces. They can also carry other pathogens such as bacteria or viruses that they pick up from the environment.

It is important to keep fruit flies out of the kitchen because they can make people sick if they get into food preparations, especially during a serious infestation. 

Fruit flies can carry diseases like E. coli, salmonella, etc., or parasites such as Toxoplasma gondii that affect humans. They have been known to transmit diseases such as dysentery, typhoid fever, cholera, and hepatitis A.

But we want to stress that this is all pretty unlikely, and is also the case for other types of houseflies. Since fruit flies are most commonly found in the kitchen, it’s best to get rid of them as quickly as possible!

Fruit flies are known to survive in refrigerators for several hours. They lay eggs deep inside edible items. When you consume contaminated food, you could have stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache, headaches, and dizziness. 

According to recent research, it has been confirmed that E.coli bacteria is also spread through fruit flies. The E.coli bacteria is very harmful to humans as it can damage the lining of the intestine.

But finding a direct causal path from a fruit fly infestation to your yucky belly is difficult. There are so many other variables to consider in the food handling process!

Oriental Fruit Fly

The oriental fruit fly has also been known to carry diseases such as anthrax and encephalitis, which can be transmitted through its saliva or feces. Both diseases create neurological complications and have a 50-100% mortality rate. 

Undoubtedly, the Oriental fruit fly is considered one of the most dangerous fruit flies. It has been reported to attack and damage 430 different vegetables, fruits, and nuts. 

But again, let’s now blow things out of proportion. About 2 people die per year of anthrax in the US, and it is typically caused by close contact with livestock, not fruit flies.


What If You Eat Fruit Flies or Their Eggs?

Maybe you chomped down on an overripe banana that’s been out on the counter before realizing there’s a swarm of fruit flies around you? Could you have just consumed some flies or their eggs, accidentally?

Yes, it’s quite possible you did. And you almost certainly have eaten fruit flies or their eggs before. It happens all the time.

There are no clearly-recorded cases of people becoming ill from eating fruit flies or fruit fly eggs. You’re more likely to get sick from eating rotten fruit than from eating fruit flies.

That’s a relief!

But often people don’t know the exact cause of their sickness, so it’s still possible that some get sick from eating fruit flies or their eggs without knowing it.

There are no clearly-recorded cases of people becoming ill from eating fruit flies or fruit fly eggs. You’re more likely to get sick from eating rotten fruit than from eating fruit flies.


How Do Fruit Flies Carry Bacteria?

Fruit flies can carry bacteria on their legs due to their unique structure. It has a tarsus structure, a modified leg that allows it to carry bacteria.

The tarsus has three parts: the terminal segment, the middle segment, and the proximal segment. The terminal segment contains three rows of bristles, where bacteria can be found. 

Its middle segment has four bristles arranged in two columns, which are where fruit flies can hook onto food particles. The proximal segment also has four bristles, but they are arranged in a single column, and these bristles help them grip onto things like leaves or branches when they jump or fly away from something dangerous.


How to Prevent Fruit Fly Infestation

Preventing fruit fly infestation starts by keeping your kitchen clean. Wash fruits and vegetables promptly and keep them away from the kitchen window.

Keep your countertops clear of clutter, and do not leave any open bags of food on the countertop.

Keep your fridge closed at all times, especially when you are not using it. 

Preventing fruit fly infestation starts with keeping your kitchen clean.

Ensure you keep the fruit flies away from the products you eat and store food in air-tight containers. T

hey are attracted to the sweet and ripe fruit on your counter and will quickly multiply if you do not take action. Avoid placing dirty dishes in the sink, and do not leave your trash cans open or near the kitchen premises. 

Remember that using pesticides to kill fruit flies in the kitchen is not a good idea! The chemicals can contaminate your food. It is also unsafe for your health if you consume the pesticide directly or inhale it while doing your job.

You can always make a trusty fruit fly trap with some vinegar and dish soap. It works well when placed in a jar with a lid with holes poked in it. This is a great way to control a fruit fly outbreak while not contaminating any food in the kitchen.


Conclusion

Fruit flies do not bite or sting, but could possibly make us sick. However, it’s not very likely to happen, and shouldn’t be a top concern.

You should eradicate your fruit fly infestation not because they might make you sick, but because they’re gross and annoying.