Annoying fruit flies show up during any season but prefer warmer weather. These pests rapidly multiply when ripening fruits and vegetables are most available. While the tiny red-eyed yellowish-brown flying insects can enter a building through an open window or door, they can also be carried home from the grocery store or farmer’s market.
A female adult, Drosophila melanogaster or common fruit fly, deposits her eggs in rotting or fermenting fruits and vegetables; the eggs hatch and develop into adults in about a week. A female adult continues to lay eggs throughout her life cycle of 10 to 14 days. Therefore, it is easy to envision how fast a couple of fruit flies can soon become an infestation based on their reproductivity rate.
Steps for Getting Rid of Fruit Flies
There are two steps to eliminating these pests. First, remove everything that attracts them and then trap them. For example, throw away produce sitting on counters, take out the garbage, and clean the trash can, inside and out of food residue and spills. Next, look for anything sticky that might invite fruit flies, check between the kitchen counter and appliances, and clean.
Wash and dry new fruits and vegetables and store them in the refrigerator until the infestation is cleared. Then, use a new bag or container to hold the produce — toss out the original.
Finally, trapping the tiny flies is swift and easy. There are two trap choices: Do-it-yourself (DIY) or pre-filled.
Since these insects are attracted to fermentation, apple cider vinegar is the recommended ingredient to add to a DIY trap. Depending on the trap, other items needed include a container or bottle, liquid dish soap, cellophane wrap, a rubber band, and a piece of paper to create a funnel. DIY trap ideas:
- Add apple cider vinegar (white can be substituted if needed) and a dollop of liquid dish soap in a microwave-safe bowl or jar. Heat until the soap is easily mixed with the vinegar, then place it on the counter. The fragrant liquid attracts the fruit flies, and the soapy residue traps them.
- Add half a cup of vinegar to a wide-mouthed jar and a rolled sheet of paper to resemble a funnel into the jar. The insects will enter the top of the funnel. Once they reach the liquid, they cannot exit the jar.
- Following the last suggestion, leave out the paper funnel and securely cover the jar with cellophane wrap: create a small hole for the pests to enter and several smaller holes to allow them to smell the vinegar.
- A beer or wine bottle with some remaining liquid will attract these tiny insects. The bottle’s narrow neck prevents them from leaving. If the opening is large, use the cellophane wrap following the directions above. A rubber band might be needed to secure the wrap.
Commercially Available Traps
Of the numerous commercially-sold traps on the market, one is easy to use. The fragrant apple cider vinegar is packaged in a plastic bottle with a flip-open top, similar to a spice bottle. Immediately after placing an open container of Aunt Fannie’s FlyPunch on the counter, fruit flies enter and die. Once no more flying insects are in the kitchen, the lid can be closed for easy disposal.
After the pests are gone, it is essential to prevent future infestations. Keeping a clean and tidy kitchen is vital. Remember to wash and dry produce, then store it in new bags or containers, and freeze compost scraps rather than leave them on the counter, even if they are covered. Regularly flush out the sink’s drains to remove any old food collected there. Consider leaving a trap near the kitchen sink as bait for another level of protection.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
(Ghostwritten for Stem & Leaves: “How to Get Rid of Gnats and Fruit Flies for Good”)
Good Housekeeping: How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in Your Home for Good
Modern Farmer: How to (Actually) Get Rid of Fruit Flies
SANBI: Common Fruit Fly
Food Network: How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies