Fruit flies received their names due to their fondness of laying their eggs in fruits. However, it is not only fruits such as bananas, apples and pears that they like, they will also look for fermenting products such as beer, cider, vinegar and wine. And it's not only food stuffs they go for but also damp areas like a mop that's been left out or a washing up sponge for example.
Fruit flies have an extremely short life cycle. Development to become an adult takes anywhere between 7 and 30 days and then they tend to live an extra 2 to 9 weeks. This means that as soon as they are an 'adult' they will start looking to places to lay their eggs and produce more fruit flies.
The most common time to see fruit flies is late summer and early autumn as they tend to breed the most around harvest time when there is more fruit and vegetables for them to lay their eggs in.
Unfortunately, they are only very small at around 3-4 mm long which means they can be tricky to spot and get rid of and also they can penetrate many fly screens. To identify a fruit fly, look for a dull coloured fly - usually tan or brown. Adults tend to hover in small groups or circles and they make little or no noise that humans can hear while doing so.
You do need to be careful with fruit flies because they spend much of their time around mouldy fruits and vegetables or other fermenting products, they are likely to carry bacteria which they may leave on your food. In addition, eating the fruit fly larvae can cause intestinal discomfort and diarrhoea.
Make sure to wash and peel where applicable fruits and vegetables that could have been exposed to fruit flies before eating them.
The best way to keep pests at bay is to keep a clean house. Don't leave food stuffs around the house, especially things that are likely to go mouldy quickly. Change your bins regularly too as this will deter fruit flies from coming into your house to find food. While there are products such as fly zappers and traps to get rid of fruit flies, this is not a sustainable solution to the problem - more of a band aid. Sanitation really is the best method of keeping these pests at bay.
If you think you have a fruit fly infestation that is too big to handle or is danger of becoming a real risk to health and safety, contact a pest control specialist who will be able to tackle the problem from the root.