Fruit flies can be the bane of every homeowner’s existence, no matter what time of year it is. A fruit fly infestation can quickly spiral out of control if steps aren’t taken at the first sign of a fruit fly problem. They’re small, numerous and peskier than most other insects as they swarm around produce feast on the sugars in rotting and fermenting fruit (check your garbage disposals regularly, y’all). They’re also so pesky, it’s no wonder everyone wants to know how to get rid of fruit flies.
For such a short life cycle, adult flies wreak some serious havoc. With a 30-day lifespan and a staggering breeding rate – females can lay 400 eggs in a week’s time – adult fruit flies seem to come from nowhere and multiply right before your eyes. They’re attracted to damp areas with anything they can eat (rotten fruit in particular is their favorite food source), making them regular pests in compost piles, garbage cans, the kitchen sink, grocery stores, markets, and restaurants.
These buggers are even a nuisance to wineries and breweries – the fly can find fermenting juice or wine from a half-mile away, and carry loads of bacteria that can ruin a glass – or whole cask – of wine or beer. Unforgivable.
So how do you deal with them once you figure out the source of their breeding grounds? Don’t worry, here are five DIY ways and fruit fly traps to keep your home fruit fly-free without using hazardous or expensive chemicals.
1. Vinegar Trap
The vinegar trap is a tried-and-true homemade fruit fly trap classic. Fruit flies are attracted to the scent of apple cider vinegar – earning them the common nickname ‘vinegar flies’ – and can’t resist flying into the jar. Once they’re in, they can’t get out.
You’ll need a mason jar, 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, dish soap, a funnel, and optionally, a piece of overripe fruit. Basically, you’re creating the perfect circumstances to create a fruit fly breeding ground.
Heat up the apple cider vinegar in a small saucepan to release the scent – fruit flies find it irresistible – and pour it into your container, adding a few drops of dish soap along with it to break surface tension and keep them from feasting and flying off.
You can also add a piece of overripe fruit to make it more attractive to flies. Place a funnel in the top of the jar – a rolled-up piece of paper is fine – which allows flies in, but not out. You can also add a piece of fresh fruit to make it extra enticing.
2. Fruit trap
Fruit flies are attracted to – you guessed it – fruit. Why not tempt them with their favorite?
You’ll need a mason jar, overripe fruit, plastic wrap, and a toothpick.
The fruit trap works on the same principle as the vinegar trap. Place a piece of overripe fruit in the bottom of your container.
Next, securely cover the opening with a sheet of plastic wrap (or your paper funnel). With your toothpick, poke a few holes in the plastic.
The flies will be able to get in – but they won’t make it back out.
3. Red wine trap
Fruit flies like wine almost as much as you do. Why not use that to your advantage and keep them away from your wine for good?
You’ll need a mostly empty wine (or beer) bottle.
After you’ve enjoyed said bottle of wine, leave the last little bit in the bottle – I know, it’s not easy – and leave the cork out of the neck of the bottle.
Place near the source of the flies and wait a few days. You can also transfer the wine to another container, and cover with punctured plastic wrap. They may have died, but at least they died drunk. Luckily for the beer-lovers among us, a leftover bottle of brew works as well.
4. Milk and sugar trap
Claire Goodall over at Everyday Roots dug up an interesting fruit-fly remedy she found passed down in the Old Farmers Almanac from 1850s New England.
You’ll need one pint of milk, 1/4 pound of raw sugar, and 2 oz. of ground black pepper.
Combine milk, sugar and pepper in a sauce pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
Pour this mixture into shallow bowls and place them in problem areas around the house
5. Keeping them gone
Don’t forget, these traps may take care of the adult population, but there still may be larvae lurking. To keep them from coming back, make sure your kitchen and home is free of standing water, mop buckets, leaking pipes, etc. If a stinky sink seems to be the source, dilute a capful of bleach with 12 oz. hot water and pour it in the drain.
Given their love for rotting food, make sure trash cans are closed and trash bags are tied up tight. Fruit flies also love dirty dishes, so now’s the time to tackle that pile in the sink.
If you have houseplants, poor-quality soil could also be a problem. Many cheap potting soils contain fungi and decaying organic matter that attract fruit flies. Switch to better soil, and top your potting mix with a layer of aquarium gravel or course sand to keep hatched larvae from crawling out.