Fruit Flies vs. Gnats

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

Fruit Flies and Gnats are both commonly found all over the world. Spotting one or the other is easy. Telling the difference between them is a bit of a challenge. In this lesson we will talk about the differences between the fruit fly and the gnat.

Pesky bugs

Where there are humans, there are annoying little insects to bother us. While we swat away all these critters, we don't always stop to notice what's what. Both Fruit flies and Gnats are small flying insects, but there is quite a bit of a difference between them. Read on to find out what they are.


Fruit flies and gnats have some similarities and some differences. Here are the differences:


The biggest misconception is that fruit flies are a type of gnat. While both Fruit flies and Gnats belong to the same order of Diptera, they belong in different sub orders and families. Fruit flies belong to the suborder Schizophora and Gnats to Nematocera.

They are further divided into various families.

  • Fruit flies: Tephritidae & Drosophilidae
  • Gnats: Mycetophilidae, Anisopodidae & Sciaridae mainly

Physical Description:

Fruit flies are generally lighter in color in comparison to gnats. Fruit flies are beige or brown and sometimes orange-ish; whereas gnats are black or grey mostly. Fruit flies are around 2-4mm in size, two pairs of wings which are sometimes spotted (depending on the species).

The gant's size varies depending on their species. They can be anywhere between 1-14mm in length. They all usually have long legs that are visible especially during flight.

Behavior and Habitat

Fruit Flies feed on fruit and vegetables. They even reproduce on the rotting flesh of produce. They therefore do not bite human beings. They can be found inside people's homes or anywhere around rotting produce. They do not swarm, you can find a few of them flying around in one area usually but not a lot.

Some species of gnats do bite, they slice into the skin and extract blood. Their habitat is anywhere with water or moist soil. They can be usually found outdoors; meadows, swamps, near ponds, rivers or lakes and gardens and sometimes garbage sites. Gnats are known to group together and form swarm clouds.


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