You should be worried about how to get rid of fruit flies if you have the infestation in your home. Fruit flies are small flies or gnats that you might occasionally see flying around in your kitchen.
These pesky flies are annoying and can be a problem all year round. However, they are especially common during late summer and fall (1).
They are usually attracted to ripened or fermenting vegetables and fruits. When you bring in grapes, melons, tomatoes, squash, and other perishable items from your garden or the grocery stores into your home, that’s primarily how you develop an infestation indoors.
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Fruit flies are also attracted to rotting onions, potatoes, bananas, and other unrefrigerated produce that you left on your kitchen counter or in your pantry. The flies are also attracted to anything that has vinegar or alcohol (2)in them, including beer and wine.
Generally, you’ll find these flies anywhere food is allowed to rot and ferment. This includes homes, grocery stores, restaurants.
How they live
Fruit flies are primarily nuisance pests, but they can also contaminate your food with bacteria and other disease-producing organisms. The adult flies are about 1/8 inch long and they usually have red eyes.
It has a front portion of the body that is tan, and the rear portion is black. They lay their eggs near the surface of fermenting foods or other moist, organic materials.
When the eggs hatch and the tiny larvae emerge, they continue to feed near the surface of the fermenting food. The female fruit fly may lay about 500 eggs, and the entire lifecycle of the fruit flies from egg to adult can be completed in about a week (1).
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Although fruit flies are especially attracted to ripened fruits and vegetables, they can also breed other places. They include:
- empty bottles
- trash containers
- garbage disposals
- cleaning rags
They’re drawn to any type of fermenting food (1)
The flies only need a moist film of fermenting material to develop. Sometimes, an infestation starts in your home when you bring home over-ripened fruits or vegetables.
If any of the fruits or vegetables had previously been infested at the grocery store, the infestation will continue when you take the produce home. The fruit flies can also invade your home by flying into your house from outside through improperly screened windows and doors.
How to get rid of fruit flies in your home
When you have a fruit fly infestation, you should plan to get rid of them as soon as you can.
- Locate all the potential breeding areas of the fruit flies. Remove them and clean the identified areas. If you fail to do this, the problem will continue. Merely killing the adult flies is not enough to eradicate the infestation. You have to eliminate the breeding areas as well.
- After eliminating the source of attraction and breeding, use a pyrethrum-based, aerosol insecticide to kill any remaining adult flies in the area where they may be seen flying around.
- Make a vinegar fly trap by constructing one. To do this, roll a sheet of notebook paper into a funnel. Place the paper funnel into a jar filled with a few ounces of cider vinegar. The vinegar serves as a bait.
Place the jar trap wherever you’ve seen the fruit flies. The vinegar trap will catch the adult flies, which you can then kill or dispose of outside.
- You can also make a fruit fly trap by placing a few ounces of cider vinegar at the bottom of a bowl or cup. Cover the top of the bowl or cup tightly with plastic wrap.
Place a rubber band around the plastic wrap to make sure it stays in place. Poke some small holes in the plastic wrap. The flies will crawl in and they won’t be able to crawl out.
- Use a soap fly trap by mixing together in a small bowl or cup the following:
- some drops of dishwashing soap
- a tablespoon or two of cider vinegar.
The vinegar will attract the fruit flies, while the dish soap will make them fall in and drown in the water.
How to prevent fruit flies
Once you know how the fruit fly infestation originated in your home, you should be able to prevent them from being introduced into your home in the future.
The best way to avoid having to deal with these annoying flies is to eliminate all sources that attract them.
- Wipe up spills as they occur and take out your trash often.
- If you have ripened produce in your house, you should eat, discard or refrigerate them. As a fruit ripens and starts to ferment, fruit flies seem to appear from nowhere. Therefore, put ripe fruits in the refrigerator and ripening ones in paper bags on the counter.
- Cut off and discard cracked or damaged portions of fruits and vegetables. This is because the eggs or larvae may be present in the damaged area of the produce.
- If you have forgotten a rotting onion or potato in your pantry, this will become a breeding ground for thousands of fruit flies. Do not leave fresh produce in your pantry. You should refrigerate them as soon as you bring them home from the stores or from your garden.
- Any recycling bin stored in your basement will be a convenient source of fruit fly infestation. Empty and rinse recycling cans and dispose of them as soon as possible.
- If you can your own fruits and vegetables, or you make your own beer or wine, make sure that the containers you’re using are well sealed. If they’re not, fruit flies will lay their eggs under the lid of the containers and the tiny larvae will enter the container when they hatch.
- Put tight-fitting screens on your windows and doors to prevent adult fruit flies from entering your house from outdoors.
- Remove or dry any damp cloths in the kitchen. Don’t keep dish rags or damp kitchen towels lying around after you’ve used them. They can be a breeding ground for fruit flies. Wash them every day and keep them dry.
- Don’t keep ripe fruit out on your kitchen counter
- Dirty dishes in the sink are a good breeding ground for fruit flies. Wash your dishes as you use them. This will cut down fruit fly breeding grounds tremendously. Also, don’t leave out cups of water or other liquids for a long period of time on your kitchen counter. either.
- Clean out the drain in your kitchen sink with ice or apple cider vinegar. This is very important because fruit flies like to breed in the drain where bits of rotting fruit and vegetables often linger.
- If you have an overhead and oscillating electric fans in your kitchen, leaving them on may help keep fruit flies away.
- Go through your pantry or any fruits on your kitchen counter and do a rotten produce check.
- Wash and dry incoming produce as soon as you bring them home. This will remove any eggs on the surface.
- You can unknowingly bring fruit flies home with you from your grocery store. Wash all fruits and vegetables as soon as you bring them home.
You may even set up a clean bucket of water outside your house to wash your produce before you take them inside your house.
- If you generate compost, you should freeze them before using them. Some bugs are great for your compost pile, but fruit flies can cause problems as they move from your compost pile to your garden, laying eggs in your growing produce.
Freezing vegetables and fruits before they become compost will kill the flies and their eggs. Churn your compost often. Also, consider hanging fruit fly traps near where you have your compost pile.
How to keep the fruit flies at bay
Although these little flies love beer and wine, there are certain scents and substances that they don’t like. They don’t like basil, bay leaves, and mint, so you consider growing such herbs in a sunny spot in your kitchen.
You can make your own fly repellent spray at home. To do this, you’ll need essential oils.
Mix peppermint, lavender, and witch hazel with water in a spray bottle. Spray lightly on furniture, linens, any fly-infested plants, and around all your exterior doors.