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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Very tiny brownish flying bugs/red eyes in home


About a month ago I discovered my son had a bowl of dried up molded salsa under his bed! When I pulled it out it was covered with these almost microscopic tiny flying bugs, they are brownish with red eyes. I can't catch one alive to get a picture but ever since this salsa episode I've noticed them more & more. It's getting worse now ill be feeding the baby & it's a matter only a couple minutes they're are 5-10 on the jar! Other times I see them on the bathroom and bedroom mirror!!! I am completely disgusted by this & am desperate to figure out what they are and how to get rid of them...quickly!!! The only way I know to kill them is when they are on a container or mirror if I get close to it, they all fly off & I just try to quickly "clap kill" them. Please help me, this can't be sanitary & I can't tell you just how many 3/4 full jars of baby food I've had to throw out bc these bugs attack so quickly!!

Hi, Brittney:

Well, this is one insect I can identify easily from the description alone.  You are talking about pomace flies ("fruit flies" to most folks), in the genus Drosophila , family Drosophilidae.

The flies are attracted to any substance that is fermenting (sugars turning to alcohol), especially fruits, vegetables, wines, vinegar, etc.  In fact, another name for them is "vinegar flies."

Here is an excellent summary of these insects and how to best deal with them:

Here's another:

I would avoid use of chemical insecticides, especially with an infant in the household.  The risk of contamination of food is also minimal in my opinion, but considering that babies have weaker immune systems than older children and adults, it is not a bad idea to throw out food that may have been swarmed by several flies.

The above links should help you isolate the source of the problem.  Fruit flies can go through several generations in a short period of time, but that also means you will know almost immediately when you have licked them!

Best wishes for a successful outcome :-)


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Eric R. Eaton


I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.


Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

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One of the top 50 experts in all categories for, 2009.

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Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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