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My Wild Backyard and Vivariums

Fruit Flies

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It takes about eight days for a fruit fly to develop from egg, larvae to adult. For faster breeding with any of them, keep them at around 75-80 degrees

The main fruit flies as feeders you can buy are flightless: D. Melanogaster 1/16" and Hydei 1/8". The melanogaster are larger and also tend to be slow in multiplying. Even though both are flightless, they can become fliers again after a few generations and I recommend getting a new stock. Flying fruit flies are just a major pain to deal with getting loose in a house. The only real way to get rid of them is to keep everything clean of food sources from the kitchen to the bathroom and not use the fruit fly feeders if they have become fliers.

The only idea I have for keeping fruit flies in and out of tanks the way you want them is to line the under side of a screen covering with mosquito mesh netting or galvanized wire mesh - something like 600 holes per square inch or 0.6mm squared.

The instructions I'm using below are my own way of raising my fruit flies. Like anything else, you should read a variety of instructions from other sites to develop your own idea of keeping, handling and substrate (food).

Supplies Needed

*Three: 2 liter pitchers, for one colony of fruit flies
*Panty hose stockings
*Coffee filters

1 Banana
1/2 cup Applesauce
Plain, instant oatmeal
1tblsp distilled white vinegar
1tsp Active dry yeast

Mix the banana, applesauce and oatmeal together to make a thick paste, about the consistency of cold molasses. Or, gloppy but not so much it won't pour or it will dry out faster.

Pour the mix into the bottom of the 2ltr pitcher. You want at least one full cup of it per pitcher. Add the table spoon of vinegar and stir by holding it and making stirring motions. This will keep the vinegar over the top, my flies tend to not like it mixed in and won't breed or eat but do fine with it layering over. Sprinkle the yeast evenly over the top as the final finish.

Fruit flies basically eat fermenting yeast and sugars, and the vinegar is a preservative to prevent molding.

Now that you have the substrate, gather 7-8 coffee filters, separate them, put them back together and fold it like a closing umbrella. Place it over the substrate but not enough to actually touch the bottom and get the filters wet. The fruit flies will hang around in the filters and lay their eggs in the substrate. Letting the filters touch the bottom and thus get wet could lead to them getting moldy or killing allot of flies by drowning.

Add the fruit flies and place the panty hose over the top as a lid. Don't roll the panty hose. Place the pitcher somewhere secure and on top of a square of news paper lightly sprayed with provent-a-mite. You can use a light bulb or even an under the tank heater to maintain 80 temp if desired.

To prevent any wandering, flying fruit flies to possibly breed with your stock through the panty hose, an ideal place is a shelf or box secured with the mosquito mesh or wire cloth. Keeping them on top of something like newspaper sprayed with the mite treatment will greatly reduce the possibility of mites. I noticed ants tend to avoid walking on it as well.


Once you start to notice more fruit flies emerging from the original batch, make another pitcher just like the first one. Use the panty hose stocking by elongating it off the top of the pitcher, shaking fruit flies into it. Once you have come to the end give it a little twist like a pony tail and cover the pitcher with a new stocking. Hold a hand over it while you slowly pull the rest of the stocking containing the flies off.

I've had a few slip offs here and there but you can lightly strike the pitcher on the table to make any remaining flies in the pitcher fall down and reset the new panty hose over it.

Now you can use the stocking to feed critters by treating it like turning a sock inside out, or place the stocking with the flies over the new pitcher by the end first and work it down without rolling it, so the flies get in the pitcher until the stocking is a flat surface.

With the first stock of fruit flies, you usually don't get enough to feed critters with them right away, it's usually a good idea to try to build their numbers by allowing them to generate for a couple of pitchers worth. With mine, I've found I want at least what looks like a thousand or 2-3 flies for every centimeter I can see over the filters, before I can use the rest of the numbers in a pitcher as feeders. I usually make two pitchers at a time with generations to feed 3 tanks of frogs, sometimes the bombina's as well - every two and three days when crickets aren't alternated. More or less, I mean I usually have Heidi because I need very prolific flies I use allot, giving them breeding breaks when I use crickets.

I'd like to get away from doing that. I don't like maintaining so many fruit flies, as well as they're more of a sweet/treat feeder kind of like the meal worm is fatty. I think they're better off for tiny froglets than as a staple diet like crickets are.

To get calcium and vit powders on the fruit flies I run the stocking over some in a container with lightly shaking. The powder will go through the tiny mesh and get on the flies.

Stockings may not be really the best solution in the world but cheese cloth isn't any better either and as far as feedings and breeding transfers, it's at least convenient.

I use three pitchers per 'colony' because I allow the first one to completely die out by the substrate drying out. Once it has I compost the waste, wash the pitcher with just hot water, no soaps. It's usually ready by then to become the fourth pitcher.