Ridding Your Kitchen of Fruit Flies

Few things are more irritating than swarms of fruit flies hovering over the produce in your kitchen or pantry. Although primarily a nuisance, these tiny flies also have the potential to contaminate food with bacteria. Here are some quick, easy, and environmentally friendly tips for ridding your pantry and your produce of these unwelcome little pests.

Avoid Attracting Them

Fruit flies are attracted to all types of ripened fruits and vegetables. Not only do they feed on them, they also lay their eggs in them - up to 500 eggs in a lifetime (which from egg to adult lasts about 7 days). Although they prefer ripened fruits and vegetables, feeding and breeding can also take place in any type of moist, fermenting material. That includes things like sink drains, garbage disposals, empty beverage cans and wine bottles, and even damp mops heads, kitchen sponges, and dish rags.

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The first step to getting rid of fruit flies is to remove the things they need to survive:
  • Keep kitchen and pantry surfaces clean and free of food crumbs of beverage spills.

  • Consume perishable fruits and vegetables quickly. If you can't consume them, keep them covered or refrigerate them until you can.

  • Check the fruits and vegetables you keep in storage (like apples and potatoes) regularly and spoilage.

  • Cut away and discard cracked or damaged portions of fruits and vegetables - they can easily become infested with unseen eggs or larvae.

  • Dispose of your garbage properly. If your garbage can doesn't have a tight-fitting lid, place fruit and vegetable scraps in plastic bags before tossing them in the trash. Disinfect regularly with beach water.

  • Clean drains and garbage disposals regularly. Mix a solution of 1/8 of cup of bleach or household ammonia in a half gallon of tap water. Pour this into your drain and let it sit undisturbed for 5 minutes before rinsing with water.

So How Did They Get In?

At times it may seem like a fruit fly magically appears the minute you set your wine glass down. So how do they get into your house in the first place? Most infestations in the home originate from one of two places: from previously infested fruits or vegetables brought home from the store, or from rips and tears in window and door screens.

Steer clear of over ripened or bruised fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. Keep windows and doors in good repair and fitted with 16 (count) mesh screens to help prevent adult fruit flies from getting in from the outdoors.

An Easy Fruit Fly Trap

After removing all potential sources for feeding and breeding, use this trap to take care of any remaining adult flies.

  1. Fill one or more small jars with 1 inch of beer, wine, or Apple Cider Vinegar (not white vinegar). This fermenting liquid is your "bait".

  2. Place a plastic sandwich bag over the mouth of the jar, so that one corner reaches down into the jar just above the "bait" (you're creating a funnel).

  3. Poke a small, 1/8 inch hole in the corner of the bag with the tip of a pencil.

  4. Secure the bag around the rim of the jar with a rubber band.

  5. Place the jars around your kitchen or near your problem plants. Since you've already taken away their food supply and breeding grounds, the fruit flies will be searching for more. The "bait" will attract the fruit flies to the traps. They'll enter through the hole in the bottom of the funnel, and not be able to get out.

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About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services.


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March 13, 20111 found this helpful

I've used apple cider vinegar in a vinegar Cruet, they get in and can't get out. I've been doing it for years. It always works. I hate fruit flies!

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March 14, 20110 found this helpful

Great article! Could have done without the close up picture but the information is superb! I printed it out and am laminating it to be posted on the side of my fridge.

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I like LollyB's idea if use a cruet too. Less apt to spill, and looks nicer too while it does it's work.

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March 17, 20110 found this helpful

We fight them every summer, thank you for the funneling idea, very clever!

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March 21, 20110 found this helpful

I am trying the vinegar idea, but didn't use a plastic to make a funnel. I will use a small pudding cup and place a cling wrap over the top makeing a tunnel with the hole and then just cling the rest to the outside of the cup. Let's see if this works!

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I'm sorry people. Call me the oddball. I have tried the classic trap with no success. It consists of pouring an amount of vinegar and a bit of dish detergent in a container and covering the top with perforated cling wrap.

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I have tried different vinegars, fruit juices, bits of fruit and other things. It simply does not work for me (unless you count catching 3 fruit flies with cranberry juice over a week's time a success).

I am not discounting pictures (one by our dear Editor in Chief) proving this method works. I'm just saying it doesn't work for me. Yes, call me the oddball.

Several times I have thought about using a vacuum cleaner to suck up the flies but always discarded the idea as I thought they are much too quick to be caught that way.

After gorging on this year's bountiful fruit harvest (sometimes as many as half a dozen navel oranges in one day), I found my kitchen invaded by a hoard of fruit flies.

Noticing a swarm of maybe 75-100 alighted on a kitchen cabinet, I thought, with nothing to lose, I'd give the vacuum cleaner a try. It works! When the flies see the hose approaching, they do attempt to fly away, but, they are not fast enough. In mid flight they are sucked right into the hose.

On the first try, I got most of them. An hour later, I got most of the escapees that had settled back on the cabinet door. Now, I have to hunt for them to get the last remaining few.

Pretty good. No chemical, no sprays or traps and very efficient.

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I have discovered two inexpensive and delicious wines produced right here in The old North State (NC). One is a white scuppernong by Duplin. The other is a white scuppernong by Childress. Both are sweet, low in alcohol and are considered a dessert or sipping wine.

Indulging in a small glass takes me back many years to when I visited my favorite aunt. An old country home with a big front porch, bedecked with several rocking chairs.

We sat on the porch in the cool of the evening. A few yards away was a huge, heavily laden scuppernong arbor. I walked to the arbor, selected and ate a few scuppys, picked a few more and brought them back to the porch.

There I seated myself on the porch steps, just munching away. With tongue in cheek, I brought up any subject I knew would get my Aunt Viola to start reminiscing about the years she was a cow girl...and all the excitement, peace and freedom she felt during that time in her life. It was heaven to me.

Yes, I thought about making a trap using a dram or two of my newfound elixir. If they liked it as well as I do, I would catch them all in one in one fell swoop (whatever that is).

But no, the vacuum works great. I'm not about to waste a drop of my giggle soup on those dastardly varmints!

I'm getting old, Y'all...antiquated. Do you think it's too late for me to become a wino?

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