While the Qfly and Medfly are a serious threat to our horticulture community, not every fruit fly species is harmful.
Of the thousands of species of flies in Australia, only a few pests are the focus of fruit fly prevention.
Some flies get falsely identified as fruit flies, such as Drosophila melanogaster, also known as ‘vinegar flies’ or ‘ferment flies’. This fly looks similar but is smaller than the Qfly and Medfly at about 2–3mm long, are tan to pale brown in colour, and have distinctive red eyes.
They are found around fruit bowls, compost heaps, and fallen fruit. What sets them apart from the harmful pest species is that they attack overripe and already damaged fruit.
While these can be a nuisance, they are not likely to have any impact on undamaged fruit. Of the 250 fruit fly species in Australia, only a few affect fruit; most are linked to flower buds, plant galls, and even rotting timber.
The Pest and Disease Image Library (PaDIL) has images of a range of pest and non-pest species, including many that are exotic to Australia.