Drosophila mature through complete metamorphosis, as do all members of the order Diptera.
Similar to all insects Drosophila is covered in a chitinous exoskeleton; has three main body segments; and has three pairs of segmented legs.
Adult: The common fruit fly is normally a yellow brown (tan) color, and is only about 3 mm in length and 2 mm in width (Manning 1999, Patterson, et al 1943). The shape of the common fruit fly's body is what one would normally imagine for a species of the order Diptera. It has a rounded head with large, red, compound eyes; three smaller simple eyes, and short antennae. Its mouth has developed for sopping up liquids (Patterson and Stone 1952). The female is slightly larger than the male (Patterson, et al 1943). There are black stripes on the dorsal surface of its abdomen, which can be used to determine the sex of an individual. Males have a greater amount of black pigmentation concentrated at the posterior end of the abdomen (Patterson and Stone 1952).
Like other flies, Drosophila melanogaster has a single pair of wings that form from the middle segment of its thorax. Out of the last segment of its throax (which in other insects contains a second pair of wings) develops a set rudimentry wings that act as knobby balancing organs. These balancing organs are called halteres. (Raven and Johnson 1999)
Larvae are minute white maggots lacking legs and a defined head. (Patterson and Stone, 1952; Patterson et al., 1943; Raven and Johnson, 1999)
Other Physical Features: Ectothermic; Heterothermic; Bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: Female larger; Sexes colored or patterned differently
- Patterson, J., W. Stone. 1952. Evolution in the Genus Drosophila. New York: Macmillan Co..
- Patterson, J., R. Wagner, L. Wharton. April 1, 1943. The Drosophilidae of the Southwest. Austin, TX: The University of Texas Press.
- Raven, .., .. Johnson. 1999. Biology, Fifth Ed.. Boston: WCB/McGraw-Hill.