Fruit Fly Life Cycle

Four Stages of Fruit Fly Development

The four stages a fruit fly goes through are egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The following is a brief description of each of the fruit fly stages.

Stage 1: Egg

Fruit flies only live for a period of two weeks but during this short period a single one could lay up to 500 eggs.  This fast reproduction rate makes it extremely difficult to get rid of them quickly. Due to the nature of their eggs fruit flies will only lay them in the surface of moist, organic materials. This is the reason why they are constantly seen around decaying fruits and veggies. This is the weakest point that you can use to kill fruit flies.

Stage 2: Larva / Maggots

Hardly visible to the naked eye, the eggs hatch within 24 to 48 hours and produce larvae that emerge to begin feeding immediately.  Around this period the fruit fly will come out as a larva and slowly begin to take shape.

What Do They Look Like?

Fruit fly larvae display sluggish, worm-like appearances initially, boasting no distinct features. Often cream colored or white, the maggot has no legs at first and utilizes hook-like mouthpieces for feeding.

fruit fly larva

Instars or Development Phases
The creature moves through three developmental stages, called instars, through the process of molting. Fruit flies often lay eggs inside fruit with damaged skin or in other moist, fermenting matter. After the eggs hatch, fruit fly larvae spend the first two larval instars eating and burrowing throughout the fruit. The first instar typically includes 24 to 25 hours of constant feeding and maturation.

Fruit flies typically move through larval stages within 10 days under optimal conditions. Larvae measure approximately 5 to 6 mm during the third and largest instar.

The maggot then sheds its outer shell (cuticle) and enters the second instar as a bigger and more defined larva. Larvae in the second instar continue tunneling through fruit or other food sources for another 24 hours before molting again.

Stage 3: Pupa

Consider the last formative stage, this is when the fruit flies get their wings and their color.

fly pupae

Some fruit fly species, such as the blueberry fruit fly, burrow 3 to 5 cm into the soil to commence pupation. Fruit flies emerge from the pupal stage in approximately 10 days and live for several more weeks. Fruit fly larvae often pose problems in orchards and farms, as the pests have the potential to ruin large amounts of fruit in a short time due to their quick development and ability to reproduce rapidly.

Once they reach this stage it becomes more difficult to kill fruit flies because they are now able to buzz around your house.

Stage 4:  Adult

Most of the fly’s life is spent as an adult, with development usually taking less than two weeks.  At this stage the fruit fly is finally formed and considered a reproducing adult. They waste no time doing so because once they hit this stage they can begin reproducing in less than 2 days which makes your fruit fly control difficult.

How Long Can They Live?
Fruit flies enjoy a lifespan of about 40 or 50 days and have been known to lay up to 500 eggs during that time.

Developmental time and overall lifespan is largely affected by environmental conditions and temperature. High temperatures quicken development and may extend lifespans, whereas cooler temperatures may delay larval and pupal development and kill off adults.