Fruit Flies Vs. Drain Flies: What Are The Major Differences?

Heather Robbins
by Heather Robbins

It is frustrating when your home is seemingly overrunning by tiny, annoying little pests with wings. Typically, this means that you either have an infestation of fruit flies or drain flies. While most people use terms interchangeably, fruit flies and drain flies are not the same thing. They are, however, two nuisance pests that are commonly found inside and are small compared to house flies, but they do have key differences.

One of the main differences between fruit flies and drain flies has to do with their appearance. Fruit flies have red eyes with a striped body with bright colors on them, while drain flies usually have gray bodies and fur on their wings. Additionally fruit flies tend to congregate around and lay eggs on overripe fruit and vegetables, whereas drain flies prefer dark, damp areas, like your drain.

This article is here to help you tell the difference between fruit flies and drain flies while explaining how to get rid of each one. This will help you know the correct steps to take to get rid of these pesky little insects so you can have your house back and free of infestation.

Do You Need Pest Control Services?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Differences Between Drain & Fruit Flies

Fruit flies and drain flies are often mistaken for each other as they both look quite similar. However, there is a difference. While breeds of flies are small, the fruit fly usually has a bright-colored abdomen striped, and it also has red eyes.

On the other hand, the drain fly is usually gray or has a darker-colored body and has fur on its head, antennae, and wings. Their borders are generally in a heart shape, which sets them apart from the fruit fly.

However, their differences extend beyond the looks. You can usually determine whether the insect is a fruit fly or a drain fly, depending on its behavior. Below, we have included several of these behaviors to help you understand the differences.

Food Swarming

If you have ever left an orange rind sitting on the counter overnight, you most likely have woken up to that rind being swarmed by annoying little flies. These are fruit flies. They typically like the rotting fruits and are usually more often in the kitchen area rather than any other area of the house.

However, drain flies only go for any food that is decaying in the bottom of your drain. They are not picky about what they eat, and they will not show their faces when there is light on the outside of the drain. On the other hand, fruit flies will come out at any time of the day.

Did They Disappear?

One significant difference between fruit flies and drain flies is whether they disappear once the food source is removed. For instance, if you have a bunch of browning bananas, the chances are that you have fruit flies. However, if you were to remove these bananas, then the fruit flies will disappear with them.

As far as drain flies go, they do not just infest the food stuck in your drain, but they infest the drain. So even if you were to get rid of the food that is stuck in your drain, the flies would stay, and you would need to figure out how to get them out as well.

Why Are Fruit Flies And Drain Flies A Problem?

When it comes to fruit or drain flies, there is no real danger regarding them alone. However, since they love rotting foods and fruits, and sewage, these insects like to spread bacteria and viruses to any surface they touch. Therefore, it is so essential for you to wash your fruit before eating it.

Not to mention, once these flies die, their bodies produce airborne pathogens that can irritate the lungs of anyone who has breathing ailments such as asthma or emphysema.

Preventing Fruit Flies And Drain Flies

There are several things you can do to aid in the prevention of pests, such as:
Insect-proofing your windows

  • Repairing any cracks in your foundation or walls
  • Keep your home nice and clean.
  • Store your vegetables and fruits the right way
  • Sanitize your drain and your pipes with chemicals on a regular basis to keep flies out

However, sometimes even these steps will not keep flies from invading your home. If that is the case, you will need to take further steps in removing them once they have gotten in. Fruit flies are easy to remove as you will only need to remove the food source. However, drain flies are a bit more complicated.

Getting Rid Of Drain Flies

Drain flies are attracted to bacteria and stagnant water sitting in your sink or bathtub drain. Eventually, you will see these little moth-like creatures coming out of your tub, or sink, which means you have a drain fly problem. While they are quite common, they can be a doozy to get rid of since they reproduce as quickly as every 48 hours.

The good news is that they are relatively easy to get rid of as long as you are thorough and diligent. If you have drain flies in your bathroom, chances are you may have them in your kitchen as well. When you exterminate them, you will need to follow through with all the drains and pipes in your home.

Natural Or Chemical Route?

Whether you use natural or more invasive methods to remove drain flies depends on just how bad the infestation is. Usually, though, you can get rid of drain flies using everyday household products such as boiling water, baking soda, or vinegar.

Boiling Water

Perhaps the easiest method to get rid of drain flies is by using boiling water to clear your drain out. You will need to do this one to two times per day for seven to ten days to ensure that the drain flies do not reappear overnight.

Just heat some water until you achieve a sustained rolling boil for at least three minutes, and then pour it down your drain. It is that easy. You can use the stovetop to do this or the microwave.

Salt Vinegar And Baking Soda

You can use a few tablespoons of baking soda mixed with ¼ cup of vinegar and two teaspoons of salt. Mix the ingredients all together and let the banking soda expand into the vinegar. You can pour this solution down the drain before boiling water to achieve the best results.

The baking soda will expand into areas that the water is not reaching and help make it impossible for the flies to stick or hide in your drain. Then, when you pour the boiling water, it will help to flush them all through.

What About Fruit Flies?

Fruit flies can be confusing. If you had ever dealt with them before, you probably were left wondering where exactly they came from. Often, there are fruit fly eggs on the fruit that you buy from the store. The female fruit fly lays around 500 eggs in one laying, and they hatch in less than 24 hours.

Therefore, it is crucial that you wash your fruits and vegetables to ensure the eggs are gone. However, you most likely will not get them off every time, so when you are faced with a fruit fly infestation, what do you do?

How To Make Your Own Fruit Fly Trap

While these flies are extremely easy to get rid of, you will still need to take some steps to ensure you remove the remaining flies. To do this, you will need to make a fruit fly trap using apple cider vinegar, water, and dawn dish soap.

  • Set up your trap. You will need to get a small round bowl of any size. You can use a ramekin if you wish for this or an old cool whip container. Make sure you have apple cider vinegar, water, and dawn dish soap as well. You will also need some saran wrap.
  • Mix the solution. Pour your bowl ¼ full of apple cider vinegar. Then, fill the rest up with water. You want to leave some room at the top, though, as you do not want the saran wrap sagging into the solution. Once you have mixed the ACV and water, you will then need to place 4 to 5 drops of dawn into the mixture.
  • Secure the saran wrap. Stretch the saran wrap over the top of the bowl and secure it tightly with rubber bands. You will need to pop holes in it, so it needs to be very taut against the bowl.
  • Pop holes in the top. You can use either a sharp knife tip or a tiny screwdriver for your glasses to pop holes in the saran wrap. Make sure you do it all over. The flies will crawl in but will not be able to get back out. They will fall into the solution, and the soap will pull them under the water to drown them. The ACV works as an attracting agent as it smells like rotting fruit.

Do You Need Pest Control Services?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Wrapping It Up

Often, you can get rid of drain flies and fruit flies without professional intervention. However, there are those times when you may need it, depending on how bad the infestation is. By taking the steps in this article to prevent the infestation and deal with it as soon as you notice it, you should have no problem getting rid of the pesky flies.

While most people use fruit fly and drain fly interchangeably, they are two different breeds of fly, and you will need to act in various ways to get rid of them. Applying the correct removal method according to the fly species, you will be able to get rid of them in no time and enjoy a pest-free living space.

However, if you cannot get them to leave, there is always the option of hiring a professional exterminator to do the job for you, but this could be a bit spendy.

Heather Robbins
Heather Robbins

Heather is a passionate writer who loves anything DIY. Growing up, she learned everything from home repairs to design, and wants to share her tips with you. When she's not writing, she's usually hiking or searching for her next DIY project.

More by Heather Robbins