Difference Between Gnats and Fruit Flies

When someone is constantly shooing away tiny flies, then most of the people might not look at them closely. Probably someone finds themselves dismissing them as either gnats or fruit flies. To the people, these both tiny pests irk a lot.  

Both pests cause so many similar issues that can be easily misidentified by homeowners. Although these both flying pests look somewhat similar but are quite different. In this article, the main focus is on differentiating gnats and fruit flies. 

Gnats vs Fruit Flies 

The main difference between the gnats and the fruit flies is that gnats resemble a mosquito including both nonbiting and biting forms. On the other hand, fruit flies are a small fly that generally feeds on fruit in both its larval and adult stages.  

Gnats vs Fruit Flies

Gnats are any member of many small flies species that annoy and bite humans. Several non-biting insects like midges resemble mosquitoes are sometimes described as gnats. When it comes to North America it is often applied to the biting midge, black fly, fungus gnat, midge, and other small flies.  

A fruit fly is an insect with two wings of either the family Drosophilidae or the trypetidae. Insects of the family Drosophilidae are referred to as vinegar flies or small fruit flies and those of the trypetidae as large fruit flies. The larvae generally feed on fruit or matter vegetative. 

Comparison Table Between Gnats and Fruit Flies 

Parameters of ComparisonGnats Fruit Flies
InterpretationIt resembles a mosquito including both nonbiting and biting forms.It is a small fly that generally feeds on fruit in both its larval and adult stages.  
LifecycleAbout four weeks30 days but up to three months can survive
ColorBlack or dark grayRange from tan to black
EyesSo small and hard to seeBig and red eyes
ShapeLong bodies and dangling eyesRounded silhouette

What are Gnats? 

A gnat is any of many tiny flying insect species in the dipterid suborder Nematocera mainly those in the families Sciaridae, Mycetophilidae, and Anisopodidae. Cloud is the term that is used to define the flying of gnats in large numbers. They can be both non-biting as well as biting.  

Gnat is a category of loose descriptive rather than other technical terms like phylogenetic, so there is no scientific consensus on gnat’s constituents. Some of the entomologists consider gnats to be only non-biting flies. Particularly at dusk, in large mating ghosts or swarms assemble by male gnats.  

Some of the gnat larvae are aquatic and most are free living. Though some are carnivorous many feeds on plants. Larval plant feeders like Hessian larva cause leaf galls, root, or stem to be formed by the host plant.  

Some gnats species are pests of potted plants roots, and mushrooms in greenhouses and homes. Biting midges and blackflies, also belonging to the category of gnat are small and sometimes barely visible and blood-sucking flies commonly described as biting gnats, punkies, no-see-ums, or sand flies in many areas. 

What are Fruit Flies? 

Drosophila melanogaster or fruit fly is a fly species in the family Drosophilidae. The species is referred to as the lesser fruit fly or fruit fly or less commonly the pomace fly or vinegar fly. For biological research in microbial pathogenesis, genetics, life-history evolution, and physiology continue to be widely used.  

The fruit fly is typically used in research owing to its life cycle which is rapid, relatively simple genetics with chromosomes pairs of only four and offspring per generation larger in number. Originally, the fruit fly was an African species with all lineages of non-African having a common origin.  

Fruit flies are common pests in restaurants, homes, and other places where food is given. Many species attack fruits that are cultivated which causes damage and might lead to significant losses related to the economy.  

Eurosta species causes a common stem swelling or gall of goldenrod. In citrus fruit, as many as 500 eggs can be laid by a Mediterranean fruit fly. Into the fruit flesh, the larvae tunnel and in return make unfit for consumption by humans. 

Main Differences Between Gnats and Fruit Flies 

  1. When it comes to physical appearance, gnats measure approximately in length as ¼ to 3/4-inch with disproportionately large wings. They also have gangly, large legs that give them the ability to fly and jump quickly. Conversely, fruit flies wings have distinct black color patterns and abdomen and dark tails. 
  2. Gnats eat organic matter in the indoor potted plants or soil of the garden. On the flip side, fruit flies feed on overripe fruits as well as rotting food in trash cans.  
  3. Gnats Larvae in the plant-soil due to excess moisture. On the other hand, the eggs of female fruit fly planted on the organic material, which is decaying.  
  4. In the suborder Nematocera, gnats are generally found and they are in the families Anisopodidae, Sciaridae, and Mycetophilidae. In contrast, fruit flies fall under two families, namely Drosophila and tephritidae.  
  5. Gnats are majorly found in damp and moist places like swamps, forests, and even meadows. Meanwhile, all over the world fruit flies can be found but because they are ripping fruits fascinated are commonly found in restaurants and kitchens. 

Conclusion 

It can be concluded that although both flying pests, namely gnats and fruit flies look somewhat similar but are quite different. When it comes to shape, gnats have long bodies and dangling eyes and that’s why they look similar to mosquitoes which are smaller. On the other hand, fruit flies have a rounded silhouette just like a version of the common housewife which is smaller.  

The life cycle of gnats is about four weeks. In contrast, fruit flies have 30 days of the life cycle but up to three months can also survive. The eyes of gnats are so small and hard to see, whereas the eyes are big and red in the color of fruit flies. 

References 

  1. https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/pdf/10.1146/annurev.en.05.010160.001131
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