What the pet owner needs to understand on the topic
of using Fruit Flies for a good quality food for invertebrates
The common Fruit Fly (Drosophila hydei) has been popular as
a live pet food for many years because it is high in
nutrition, specifically minerals and sugars, and small in
size, making it an excellent food for young insectivores,
whether insect (mantids, for example), arachnid (spiders and
scorpions), amphibian (tadpoles and small frogs), or reptile
(i.e. anoles). Another advantage of Fruit Flies as live food
is that they tend to fly upwards and so are easier for
arboreal animals to catch.
Fruit Flies are available from many sources, from Internet
merchants to your local pet stores, and you can even buy
Fruit Flies mutants that are unable to fly, or at least fly
poorly, which helps your pet to catch them as well as making
your home much less likely to be Fruit Fly infested. And, if
you have a need for very many of them, they are also fairly
easy to raise.
Fruit Flies are usually about one third the size of a common
housefly. The adults have red eyes and yellowish brown
When you buy your Fruit Flies they will probably come in a
tub with a netting covered top for ventilation. Inside will
be what is called a "culture," which is basically a blob of
mashed fruit with cotton batting over the top, seeded with
Fruit Fly larvae.
If you are going to use the flies as feed as fast as they
emerge, you can simply keep the culture at room temperature
and they will all pupate and become adults within the next
ten days or so, depending on the variety you bought and the
ambient temperature. If your flies are not the flightless
type, cool them in the refrigerator for fifteen or twenty
minutes before you feed them to your animals and they will
be much slower for you and easier for your pet to catch.
If you want to keep breeding fresh Fruit Flies, you can use
the same culture, adding some mashed very ripe banana or
mashed potatoes and fresh cotton batting. The Fruit Flies
will eat the banana and also lay their eggs in it, and in
sixteen hours or so you'll have eggs, in ten more days
you'll have even more flies.
Keep your ongoing culture at a temperature between seventy
and eighty-five degrees Fahrenheit (eighteen to thirty
degrees Celsius) for fastest breeding, or somewhat cooler
for slower hatching. Much hotter, though, and the flies will
possibly be sterile.
If you need a large steady supply of Fruit Flies, you can
build a breeding cage. Any washable container will work. Use
fine netting for the top to keep your flies inside. Or, a
great idea we heard that works well when using a small
aquarium tank or plastic box is to cut off and knot one leg
of a pair of pantyhose then cut the other leg to about nine
inches. Put the waist of the panty hose over the top of the
tank, and use the longer leg as an entry for your hand so
that you can feed and remove breeding boxes without risking
Another hint for working in the cage without losing a lot of
flies: Turn off all but one light in the room and point the
part of the cage opposite the door toward the light source.
Fruit flies will fly toward the light, especially if you
disturb them some.
To have constantly renewed supplies of Fruit Flies, put some
small plastic or paper tubs into the cage and add to each
tub some culture (mashed banana or the like) with cotton
batting on top. Every six days remove the tubs and cover
them with a ventilated top to hold the newly hatched flies,
and add fresh tubs. (The easiest way to make the ventilated
tops is to cut a square from the center of each top, then
cover the tub with a piece of stocking and put the plastic
lid back on.)
Remove the adult flies within five days of hatching to
prevent a pollution problem from dead flies. If you are
breeding the mutated Curly Winged Fruit Flies, every few
months, buy some new flies and add to your breeding stock
for fresh genes.
But if you just want plain old flying flies, you can catch
your own breeding stock. Just set up a container with a
little overripe banana in it and cover it with plastic wrap
and punch some small holes in the plastic. Sit it on your
back porch on a summer day and you'll probably garner a good
supply as the flies crawl through the holes but then can't
figure out how to escape.
Remember... Time flies like an arrow But Fruit Flies like a
The most commonly sold flightless Fruit Flies are:
* Vestigial-winged Fruitfly (Drosophila melanogaster)
This is a very small flightless species that is excellent
for small or young insects and amphibians.
* Giant Fruitfly (Drosophila hydei)
This Fruit Fly is larger than the wild version, but is also
flightless. It is an excellent primary food source for tree
frogs and other small frogs, and large carnivorous insect larvae.
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Invertebrates as Pets