Drain Fly vs Fruit Fly: Are They Different?

Fruit flies and other similar files are small, fast, and hard to see with the naked eye. It can be difficult to tell what you have. If there are flies inhabiting your drain, are they drain files or fruit flies?

In this article, we’re going to do a Drain Fly vs Fruit Fly matchup. We’ll look at some differences you can see with the naked eye so you can tell what you have.

Here are the basics:

  • They have one thing in common: they both lay their eggs in wet, damp places.
  • Fruit flies have red eyes and are normally much lighter in color.
  • Drain flies are darker and lay eggs inside drain pipes.

Read on to learn how to identify and get rid of fruit and drain flies.

Drain Fly vs Fruit Fly: The Differences

Now that we know that there are easy ways to spot the differences between these flies, let’s find out how.

Drain Flies

First, we’ll start with drain flies, which can be found anywhere inside or outside the house and may become quite a nuisance.

1. Size and Physical Appearance

The drain fly is roughly one-eighth of an inch long and looks a lot like a small moth, with hair covering its heart-shaped wings. These flies, also known as sewer flies, are usually brownish or black with antennae at the front.

When they fly, drain flies look like dark spots floating in the air, making them different from fruit flies.

2. Habitat

As their name implies, you will find drain flies inside drain pipes around the house in kitchens and the bathroom. They can also be found in drains outside, where decayed organic matter can be found.

3. Feeding Habits

Drain flies eat the pollen of plants and organic matter that can be found inside drain pipes and sewers. If you’ve got tiny flies swarming your plants, they may be drain files, fungus gnats, fruit flies, etc.

Drain flies love to eat organic matter that grows on the slime found in drain pipes.

They will eat anything growing or fermenting in kitchen or bathroom drain pipes. They can also be found in the pipes of garbage disposal units or in and around trash cans.

3. Breeding Habits

Drain flies will lay their eggs inside the damp slime and organic matter in drain pipes so their offspring can have plenty of food. Yuck.

Drain flies also stay together in large swarms inside drain pipes, distinguishing them from fruit flies.

Fruit Flies

Next, we’ll take a closer look at fruit flies to see how we can distinguish them from drain flies.

1. Size and Physical Appearance

Fruit flies are a bit longer than one-eighth of an inch and are usually much lighter in color, from yellow to light brown.

They have bright red or even dark red eyes with dark stripes or spots covering their abdomen and over their hind side.

Fruit flies also don’t have any hair on their bodies that can be seen with the naked eye. The red eyes of these flies are a common way to identify them from other types of flies and insects.

3. Habitat

Fruit flies are obviously attracted to fruit — it’s in the name! They are frequently found in kitchens. Commonly they will infest food processing equipment such as dishwasher drains where scraps of food can be found, and bathroom drains, where organic materials and fruity-smelling skin care products are found.

Fruit and vegetables left open on the counter are a temptation for these flies as they are an excellent food source.

They will happily lay their eggs in your rotting bananas or tomatoes.

They can also be found around house plants inside your home, attracted by the dampness and easy food source. Fruit flies do not swarm in huge numbers, though they can reproduce very quickly.

4. Feeding Habits

Fruit flies will eat fruit, plants, and other organic material that can be found around places where food is processed. You’ll find that they will quickly get to your fruit and vegetables left in the open.

Fruit flies love sweet fruits such as bananas and most other sugary fruits. But they will go beyond fruits if there is other food left out. They commonly will attack cat food, which sometimes can be left out for a while.

5. Breeding Habits

As their name implies, these flies will lay their eggs in and on decaying fruit and vegetables so their offspring can easily access food. 

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies and Drain Flies

Getting rid of these fly species is not that difficult, but if you have fruit trees in your yard, it might be a problem. Fruit flies will easily survive in the winter by staying in evergreen trees. Then they go to the fruit trees in the summer.

Fruit Flies

Getting rid of fruit flies in your home is relatively easy. Simply get rid of old food scraps and decaying fruit and vegetables. Keep all food processing appliances clean, especially garbage disposal units where old food scraps can be found.

Clean your trash bins, compost bins, etc.

Get yourself one of these commercial fruit fly traps or eco-friendly spray to use inside your home.

Drain Flies

If you’ve got fruit or drain flies inhabiting your drain, try pouring boiling hot water or vinegar down the drain regularly. While some recommend bleach, that’s not a good solution.

There are easy-to-use commercial products such as the bug zapper or standard fly paper to get rid of drain flies.


Fruit flies and drain flies are very similar creatures, with similar habitats and behaviors.

  • Fruit flies eat plants and decaying fruit and vegetables, while drain flies eat organic matter in the water.
  • Fruit flies can become a nuisance in the kitchen, but drain flies can be found anywhere around the house where there are drains.
  • Fruit flies normally don’t fly long distances and will stay close to their feeding grounds.
  • An easy way to know the difference is that drain flies look a lot like tiny moths.

Regardless of what you have, it’s a good idea to get rid of them as quickly as possible.

Use Drain-O or similar drain cleaners to clear out any decaying organic matter from your drain, and with luck your infestation will disappear quickly.

Good luck with keeping those little flies under control!