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March 13, 2011
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.
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.
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- 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".
- 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).
- Poke a small, 1/8 inch hole in the corner of the bag with the tip of a pencil.
- Secure the bag around the rim of the jar with a rubber band.
- 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.