Adult fruit flies are 1/8-inch long and have a dull, yellow-brown to dark brown colour. Some species have distinctive red eyes. The larvae are small (1/10-to 1/5-inch long) and very distinctive with an extended, stalk-like breathing tube at the rear end of the body.
The eggs are laid onto the surface of fermenting fruit or vegetables, or in areas where moisture and yeast are abundant. The eggs hatch within the span of 30 hours. Each female produces up to 500 eggs. The larvae complete development in five to six days and crawl to drier areas of the food or elsewhere in order to pupate. The life cycle (adult to adult) requires eight to ten days.