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Get rid of fruit flies with these 14 tips

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Best ways to get rid of fruit flies

If you’ve ever had fruit flies in your kitchen, you know how quickly they can proliferate, and how difficult they can be to get rid of.

These pesky creatures can lay up to 500 eggs at a time near the surface of ripening foods. The entire life cycle from egg to adult only takes around 8 to 10 days, so they can proliferate very rapidly, laying their eggs anywhere from sink drains, garbage disposals, empty bottles and cans – to garbage bags, and even damp mops and sponges.

The first step is preventing fruit flies in the first place by eliminating sources that attract and breed them. For example, do not leave ripened fruit or vegetables, such as onions, tomatoes, or potatoes exposed. Keep such foods in the refrigerator.

It also helps to frequently clean any recycling bins with empty bottles and cans in them. Make sure the contents are thoroughly cleaned before discarding, and that the bottoms and the sides of garbage cans are free of any small bits of food or spilled juices. Also, clean the seals of your refrigerator door, the top and under the fridge weekly. You should especially clean the evaporation pan if it has one.

Even after doing your best to remove all sources of attraction, adult fruit flies can still scatter and lay eggs in a drain or other hard-to-reach location. If you can get to them, a pyrethrum-based aerosol insecticide will kill adult flies. Unfortunately, it won’t kill any eggs or larvae lurking in your kitchen.

So what can you do once an infestation of fruit flies start bugging you?

Thankfully, there are all sorts of tips and tricks for eradicating these tiny flying pests, so after sifting through a plethora of remedies ranging from soap solutions to banana traps, here are some of the more popular methods found on the Internet:

1. Cider Vinegar Solution
• Fill a small juice glass halfway with cider vinegar.
• Add two teaspoons of dishwashing liquid.
• Stretch a piece of Saran Wrap over the top, securing it with a rubber band.
• Puncture it with a fork, making 12 small holes.

2. Cooked Potato Peelings
• Leave a few potato peelings on a plate or bowl because the fruit flies will flock to them.
• Then spray them quickly with any fly fighting aerosol every few hours.
• This technique will work for 3 to 5 days before you have to replace the potatoes.
• It’s supposed to get rid of the flies in less than 10 days even if they’re nesting elsewhere.

3. Ripe Fruit and Wine Trap
• Take a one-pound plastic container and punch a hole in the cover.
• Also punch some smaller holes for breathing.
• Put some ripe fruit, wine or anything else that attracts flies in the container
• Then cover the container and watch the fun as the fruit flies flea to it!

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4. Home-Made Lemon Grass Spray
• Put 2 drops of lemon grass oil and 10 ounces of hot water into a spray bottle.
• Then spray around wherever you’ve seen fruit flies.
• The spray can be used anywhere in the house and also works for small bugs.
• This is an easy, cost effective solution that is safe to use anywhere.

5. Home-Made Funnel Trap
• Take an 8-by-10-inch piece of paper and form it into a cone-shaped funnel.
• Seal the funnel with tape, and stick it into a clean jar or wine bottle.
• Bait the jar with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or a slice of ripe banana.
• Place one or more of these traps on counters or in pantries where you see the pests.
• After you trap all visible flies, kill them with spray, or release them outside.

6. Banana Bottle Trap
• To catch stray flies, take a small necked bottle and put a piece of banana in it
• Then take a piece of paper and make it into a small cone or funnel.
• Make sure the pointy end of the funnel is going into the bottle.
• This is kind of like a minnow trap: easy for flies to get in, but they’re too stupid to get out!

7. Soap Bubble Trap
• Put some red wine into the bottom of a small jar, then add some dish soap.
• Put your hand over the top of the jar and shake it until the soap bubbles.
• Then put the jar near your infestation.
• The flies are attracted to the bait (red wine) and get stuck in the soap bubbles.

8. Catch and Release Method
• Drop a piece of rotten fruit into a large, clean jar.
• Place the jar near the greatest concentration of flies.
• Put a paper cone with a small hole in the bottom in the mouth of the jar pointing down.
• The fruit flies will enter the cone through the large end by the mouth of the bottle.
• They’ll then find their way through the hole into the bottle, they will not be able to get out.
• Once you have several trapped flies, release them outside.

9. Household Fan Method
• Put a household fan near the most vulnerable areas, such as the fruit bowl.
• Keep the fan blowing across the fruit.
• The flies cannot land in a cross wind.
• If you're doing this, put any bottle trap away from the fruit.

10. Vacuum Cleaner Method
• Remove the floor cleaning attachment and suck the flies into the shaft.
• Jazz the vacuum cleaner hose method using a tapped-on clear soda bottle.
• Or try a piece of clear plastic, taped in a funnel-shape, attached to your vacuum hose.
• Dispose of the dust outside or get rid of the inner bag.

11. Rubbing Alcohol Spray
• Fill a fine misting spray bottle with rubbing alcohol.
• Spray on the hovering fruit flies.
• They'll fall to the floor and you can sweep them up and dispose of them.
• This isn't an effective insecticide, you'll need to actively remove the flies by hand.
• But it beats toxic sprays!

12. Windex or Clorox Bug Spray
• Windex is an instant killer of most small bugs.
• If you find a patch of fruit flies, give them a few quick sprays of Windex and they’ll die.
• Another spray method is to use Clorox cleaning spray.
• Wipe down surfaces and dead flies afterwards.
• You'll need to ventilate the room you're spraying due to the overwhelming smell.

13. Ziploc Bag Trap
• Place a few slices of an apple inside a Ziploc bag.
• Leave an inch (2.5cm) open to allow pests to enter and surround the apple.
• Zip the bag closed and release them outside.

14. Dishwashing Detergent and Vinegar Jars
• Take 2 empty jars with wide mouths (such as from jelly, and they needn't be tall).
• You’ll also need some plastic wrap, regular dishwashing detergent and apple cider vinegar.
• Put 1 tablespoon of dishwashing detergent into each jar and add 3 tablespoons of vinegar.
• Slosh the mixture around, then stretch plastic wrap completely across the jar and over sides.
• Secure the plastic wrap around the mouth of the jar with a rubber band.
• With the tip of a knife, punch several small holes in the plastic wrap.
• You can only kill fruit flies if they get inside, so you may want to stretch the top plastic again to ensure that it's really tight.

SOURCES: Internet; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food Protection