Drosophila melanogaster

Drosophila melanogaster Meigen

Taxonomic placing: Insecta, Holometabola, Diptera, Brachycera, Drosophilidae.

Common name: Vinegar fly or common fruit fly.

Geographical distribution: World-wide.

Morphology: Maggot white to almost transparent, about 3 mm long, with a protrusible caudal respiratory tube that contains the posterior spiracles. Adults with large red eyes and a dark-yellow body, the posterior abdominal segments being dark. .

Host plants: Rotting plant material.

Life history: The pest can raise a generation in about 2 weeks at 20-25ºC, each female laying several hundred or more eggs during its few days of life. The eggs are deposited in small cracks in the berries, the emerging maggots then feeding and developing therein.

Economic importance: Maggots of D. melanogaster occur in fermenting grape bunches, wherein they feed and extend the rot. In addition, the rotting, wounded berries are then infected by molds, increasing the damage which may affect 30% of the harvest.


Monitoring: The occurrence of fly swarms on certain vines indicates their presence.

Horticultural methods: Sanitation, including the removal of grape waste in the vineyards and around packing houses. In the vineyard damage may be curtailed by reducing bunch rot through sound horticultural practices, like suitable fertilizer and irrigation management, and the use of plant hormones to reduce the number of tight bunches.

Chemical control: Applications of an organphosphate, like the relatively mild Dipterex, or a pyrethroid, may afford some control. However the pest develops rapid resistance.

Genetic manipulation: A mutation that confers male-only sterility was recently described in D. melanogaster, which could be used as a novel form of pest control.


Dowling, D.K. Tompkins, D.M. and Gemmell, N.J. 2015. The Trojan female technique for pest control: a candidate mitochondrial mutation confers low male fertility across diverse nuclear backgrounds in Drosophila melanogaster. Evolutionary Applications 8: 871–880.

Lindsley, D.L. and Zimm, G.G. 1992. The Genome of Drosophila melanogaster. Academic press, San Diego.

Ringo, J.1., Jona, G., Rockwell, R., Segal, D. and Cohen, E. 1995. Genetic variation for resistance to chlorpyrifos in Drosophila melanogaster (Diptera: Drosophilidae) infesting grapes in Israel. Journal of Economic Entomology 88:1158-1163.

Vermes, M. and Pappo, S. 1961. The vinegar fly causes the spread of grape bunch rot. Hassadeh 41: 1315-1317 (in Hebrew).