Drosophila melanogaster Click to enlarge image
Drosophila melanogaster, common vinegar fly, male with black-tipped abdomen Image: Dave Britton
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    melanogaster
    Genus
    Drosophila
    Subfamily
    Drosophilinae
    Family
    Drosophilidae
    Super Family
    Ephydroidea
    Order
    Diptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    3 mm - 4 mm

Introduction

The Vinegar Fly is a small, yellowish fly with distinct red eyes and is commonly seen around rotting fruit.


Ferment fly Drosophila melanogaster
The ferment fly Drosophila melanogaster (‘dark-bellied dew-lover’) may one day become Sophophora melanogaster (‘dark-bellied carrier of wisdom’). Scanning electron micrograph Sue Lindsay. Colouring Jeremy Austen. Image: Sue Lindsey
© Australian Museum

Habitat

The Vinegar Fly is found in urban areas.

Distribution

The Vinegar Fly is found throughout Australia.

Feeding and diet

The Vinegar Fly is not actually a fruit fly as it does not feed on fruit directly, just the yeasts associated with rotting fruit. The name 'fruit fly' is more correctly applied to flies in the family Tephritidae.The larvae feed on the bacteria and yeast found in rotting fruit.

Economic impacts

The Vinegar Fly is commonly found in genetics laboratories around the world. This is probably the most studied of all animals (besides humans) and has contributed greatly to our understanding of genetics. Its short life cycle of only a couple of weeks makes it ideal for genetic research.

The larvae can cause great problems for wineries and fruit-juice producers.