Feeder Insect Introduction: Flightless Fruit Flies

Feeder Insect Introduction: Flightless Fruit Flies

Sometimes you need small feeder insects, really small ones. It can be difficult to find small enough insects for some species. One of the best options is flightless fruit flies. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of the idea of bringing any kind of fly into my house. They’ve come to be one of my staple insects to feed Sammy though for a variety of reason. How about we start with why these flies are flightless?

The Science Behind Lack of Flight

Drosophila Melanogaster
Most species that make up the category of flightless fruit flies are actually capable of flight. Flightless fruit flies are members of these species that were genetically altered to bring about their inability to fly. It can also be from genetic mutations that occur naturally. The result of these mutations can be different between the species. One species has wings but lack the muscle development that supports flight. Another has no wings at all.

Two Main Species

On the market, you find two different species most of the time. While there are others, these two are the most common due to their ease of care.

Drosophila Melanogaster

More commonly known as the fruit fly or vinegar fly, this is the smaller of the two species. They measure in at about 1/16th of an inch. This size makes them idea for dart frogs, baby reptiles, aquarium fish, and so on. When you buy some Melanogasters, make sure that they are of the wingless variety. There is a “flightless” version available that can regain the ability to fly if it’s too warm. Melanogasters reproduce quickly, it only takes about two weeks for the next generation of flies to emerge.


Drosophila Hydei

Drosophila Hydei
At a size of around 1/8th of an inch, they are quite a bit larger than the Melanogaster. It’s because of this that they are meatier and better for species like anoles, chameleons, frogs, and so on. Most commonly you find the flightless form of this species. Unlike the flightless version of Melanogaster, these guys will never regain their ability to fly.  Hydei are also different from Melanogasters in regards to their reproduction speed. If you have your temperatures right, it takes about three weeks or more for new Hydei to emerge.

How to care for Flightless Flies

Flightless Fruit Fly Culture
Fortunately, there isn’t a lot that you need to do for these guys. You buy the culture and then just leave it in a safe area that’s between 73 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The culture contains their food already, so you don’t have to worry about that unless you want to make more cultures. There are some things you can do to make the culture last longer though. First, when your flies first come in, you don’t want to use them right away. If you can give them a few days then do. This gives them time to start producing more flies. When they are producing, make sure you are giving enough to your reptile while not using all of them. You don’t want too many of them in the culture. They will eat through the medium too fast and then as they start to die the medium will be polluted with their bodies.

Do I have to dust them?


Yes, you need to dust them. It is one of the most annoying parts of dealing with this feeder. There is a somewhat simple way to do this without too much of a fuss. Before trying to dust them, place their culture in the fridge for just a bit. The cold slows them down quite a bit. While they are in the fridge, you will want to get a cup and funnel ready. You coat the bottom of the cup with your calcium/multivitamin. Then all you need to do is get the culture and tap enough flies into the funnel. They will stick and climb on the sides sometimes. All you need to do is shake the funnel to make them fall in. When you have enough, close the culture, remove the funnel, and swirl the cup a bit to ensure they are evenly coated. They will get moving again pretty fast after being removed from the fridge. I suggest having everything ready to go before then.


But, why should I use them?

Common Fruit Fly
There are a number of reasons why these guys make good feeder insects:

  • Very active insects, this can invoke the feeding response in finicky eaters.
  • Relatively cheap feeders
  • Easy to breed on your own
  • Quiet, don’t make any loud noises unlike some other feeder insects
  • Very nutritious feeders
  • Supplies to create more cultures are fairly cheap



If you have poison dart frogs, anoles, chameleons, geckos, and so on, you need to consider adding the flightless fruit fly to your collection of feeders. Their easy care requirements make them a great choice for adding a bit of variety to your reptile’s diet. If you have any specific questions about these guys, please leave a comment below.


We are going to have our first Petiles giveaway! Click Here to enter for the chance to win a Flightless Fruit Fly kit. If you win, you can choose either a Melanogaster or Hydei culture.

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