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Insects and other arthropods

Fruit flies

Drosophila melanogaster

Tabs group


These are small brownish-yellow insects about 3 to 4 mm long. Their compound eyes are bright red. They have two broad, oval wings and dark bands on their short abdomen. Males have a dark, rounded extremity, and females have a lighter, pointed one. Males are smaller than females.

Life cycle

The female lays elongated, whitish eggs on fruit or other moist, decomposing matter. Eggs have two short breathing tubes that emerge from the liquid in which they were laid. A female produces 25 to 35 eggs a day, which hatch after one or two days.

The legless, whitish larva moves about actively on the moist surfaces where it feeds. The larva moults twice in five or six days. In the third larval instar, it pupates inside its final larval skin. Its cuticle hardens and turns brownish or orange.

The adult emerges after five days. It is ready to mate not long afterwards and can mate more than once. During courtship, the male makes a sound by vibrating its wings. The female may store the sperm from insemination and use it to lay eggs for several days. Adult fruit flies live for several weeks.

This species reproduces year round in heated living quarters. Its life cycle varies from 50 days at 12°C to just eight days at 30°C.

Geographic distribution

The species originated in the tropics and now occurs worldwide. It probably spread with humans as they moved.

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