Fruit flies are tiny insects that can overtake your home before you even realize they are there. Once you have an infestation of fruit flies, they can be hard to remove and extremely annoying. Of course, knowing how they get into your home and a few methods to remove them again is the right place to start. So, if you’re wondering how to get rid of fruit flies, keep reading.
What Attracts Fruit Flies
As their name suggests, fruit flies are attracted to fruit, but it isn’t just any type of fruit they like. These nasty little critters prefer to feed on overripe fruit, such as bananas that have begun to show brown spots. Fruit flies also like rotting or decaying fruit, so if you’ve tossed some old fruit into the garbage, they can get in there and start feeding.
Fruit flies are also attracted to other sugary substances. For instance, they’ll feed on fruit juice or other sweet drinks that have been left out. They even like alcoholic beverages, like wine or stale beer due to the sugars present in them. If you have left any of these items on your counter or in your sink drain, garbage can, or garbage disposal, you may have a fruit fly infestation before you realize they are there.
For us gardeners, certain plants can attract fruit flies. These are generally going to be fruit-bearing plants where the fruit has over-ripened. Any sort of sweet material can be a potential attractor for these pesky bugs.
Why They’re A Problem
Fruit flies are a problem for a few reasons. First, they can come into your home without you even knowing it by hitching a ride on the fruit you buy at the grocery store. There could be eggs or larvae on the fruit you bring home, and since they are so small, you likely won’t see them until they grow their wings and start flying around.
Another issue with fruit flies is their short lifespan. Though dying quickly seems like a bonus, it also means they breed much quicker than you expect. In fact, a female fruit fly can grow into an adult in only a couple of days. At this point, she will lay eggs, leaving up to 500 of them on your fruit at once.
These eggs hatch in about 24 hours, and the larvae will spend the next few days nibbling the fruit they’ve made their home on. Then they reach adulthood, at which point the new females will start laying eggs, continuing the cycle. Within a week or two, you could have thousands of bugs residing in your kitchen. Fruit flies are not only annoying, but can also transfer bacteria from dirty surfaces onto your produce.
How To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies
Getting rid of fruit flies isn’t the easiest task, especially when you have a ton of little bugs living in your home, but it isn’t impossible if you’re willing to put in the effort. The following methods are good options for preventing and dealing with an infestation.
Deep Clean Your Kitchen
Fruit flies will likely be localized in your kitchen, so cleaning this area first is best. Wipe down all your counters and clean your sinks and drains to get rid of any food particles the fruit flies could be feeding or breeding on. Check other rooms for food particles or old fruit in garbage cans as well.
You should also regularly clean your sink drain and garbage disposal if applicable. Food particles can get stuck here, and this can lead to fly issues that are difficult to manage.
Manage Your Fruit
Fruit flies love fruit, so giving them as little of it to feed on is another way to get rid of the bugs. This process can begin right after you’ve purchased the fruit and brought it home. There could be fruit fly eggs or larvae on the fruit you buy, so wash it immediately.
Then place your fruit in the fridge. Not only will this prevent any fruit flies currently in your home from feeding or laying eggs on it, but the cold air will also prevent it from ripening too soon. If you have any ripened or rotting fruit, get rid of it immediately.
This also applies to any indoor fruit-bearing plants you may have. Make sure to pick the fruits as they ripen, and don’t allow overripe fruit to sit around for too long on the plant or otherwise.
Take Out The Trash
Throwing away fruit that is past its prime is a must but doing so in your kitchen garbage isn’t a good idea. You aren’t removing the food source from the fruit flies, you’re only altering its location, so they can still access it. Toss old fruit outside in the garbage, a compost bin, or directly into your garden instead. If you must use your kitchen garbage, be sure to use a trash can with a secured lid to keep the bugs out and take out the trash as often as possible.
Make a Fruit Fly Trap
Making a fruit fly trap is a good way to get rid of the bugs that are already flying around your home. For this process, you need a mason jar or small bowl, plastic wrap, and apple cider vinegar. Pour about half a cup of the vinegar into the jar and then cover the top with plastic wrap. Poke a few holes in the plastic with a toothpick. When the fruit flies smell the vinegar, they’ll fly into the holes to drink, though they won’t be able to fly back out again and will eventually die.
You can also substitute apple cider vinegar with balsamic vinegar, wine, or stale beer. For a more effective trap, add a drop of dish soap to the vinegar and mix them well. The dish soap will decrease the vinegar’s surface tension. When the flies try to land on it they will become immersed in the liquid and drown. Leave this out until you no longer notice the flies in your home.
Purchase Fruit Fly Prevention Products
Rather than making your own fruit fly trap, you can purchase one from any home store. These are similar to homemade traps, with a tasty liquid inside of a container that is designed to trap the bugs once they’ve found their way inside. Sticky fly strips can be hung around your kitchen and anywhere else you need them, holding the bugs in place once they’ve landed. There are also fruit fly sprays designed to kill the little insects. These are chemical sprays, so it’s best to spray the area and then leave while the spray does its job.
Fruit flies can be a nuisance once they start hatching in your home. Though they may seem impossible to get rid of, they are easier to remove from your home than you think. Using the methods we described can remove the fruit flies that have taken up residence and ensure they never come back.