If you’re looking up how to get rid of fruit flies in your home, then you too have most likely fallen prey to these annoying little pests. It may have started off naturally enough, maybe a piece of fruit fell behind the trash can or perhaps a bit of kiwi got clogged in your drain somewhere. Either way, you most likely woke up to a swarm of these things practically overnight. Where did these tiny little monsters come from? What are they? How do I get rid of them? We’ve got your answers crammed into 6 effective tips for how to get rid of fruit flies fast.
What Are Fruit Flies?
Fruit flies look very similar to your average fly except that they are about one third the size (around an ⅛ of an inch) and have big red eyes and a light yellow body. They come from the Drosophilidae and Tephritidae families of flies and have many cousins with minor characteristic differences and small changes in food preference. You are probably dealing with Drosophila Melanogaster, known as the common fruit fly or vinegar fly. Knowing the exact breed of fruit fly shouldn’t matter too much when it comes to ultimately eliminating them from your home. However, sometimes drain flies can be confused for fruit flies. Many of the methods for dealing with the pests overlap, but it’s always a good idea to know what you are dealing with.
Where do Fruit Flies Come From?
The common fruit fly actively seeks out fermenting fruit with which to lay its eggs. These pesky little dudes and dudettes can smell the fruit from an impressive distance (maybe up to 7 Kilometers!) and will come looking without fail. So if you have fruit sitting around, you’ll probably have a couple trying to get in. Fruit flies tiny size makes it easy for them to find their ways inside using cracks in doors, windows, and screens. Once they lay their eggs (up to 500 at a time) the problem can just keep getting worse from there. These little flies can go from egg to adult in a week, which means a piece of fruit left unattended around eight days may seem to give rise spontaneously to its very own swarm.
Fruit left to ripen in your garden, or even some brought from the store may already be harboring fruit fly eggs.
Tricks to Get Rid of Flies in the House
Since fruit flies have been with humans since before we were even humans, there have been quite a few methods we have developed for getting rid of them. We tried to give you the best version of each favorite method – ranging from traps to sprays.
Before utilizing any of these methods, ensure you have eliminated whatever source of food initially attracted the flies in the first place. If the problem persists it may be that the source of your fruit fly problem is not within the immediately visible vicinity. They have been known to find their way under foundations and in the walls. If you just can’t seem to remove the problem, professionals may need to come in. More on this is next…
1. Remove the Source of the Flies
There is no point in removing your current visible fruit fly infestation if you don’t remove their source. Even if you eliminate every single adult fruit fly in your house, you can be met with hundreds the very next morning if you fail to remove the eggs. This may mean giving your kitchen or bathroom an extremely thorough cleaning.
Inspect your kitchen. Check under stove tops, make sure all of your lids are on tight and that no juice spills are hiding under anything. Get into the nooks and crannies and make sure you don’t have any bits of rotting food hiding about somewhere. Keep your garbage covered!
Check the vegetable and fruit bins in your fridge or cupboard. A single old piece of fruit is all it takes to breed an infestation. Get rid of any rotting fruit and vegetables before adding new ones to the bunch. Also, wash and inspect new fruit and vegetables for any signs of eggs before placing it with the other produce. The eggs look similar to orange grains of rice.
The last place you are going to need to check is the drain. This can be an issue in and of itself…
2. Check for and Remove Fruit Flies in the Drain
Some fruit or other tasty debris may have gotten lodged somewhere in your kitchen plumbing and now may be serving to spawn generations of flies. You can check this by covering the opening to your sink with a piece of paper or plastic with a thin layer of honey on the underside. Check it later in the day to see if the sink is where the flies are originating from. Old sponges, damp mops, and rags may also contain eggs. Clean anything around the sink flies can breed in.
It can be difficult to clean out your drain, but before you call a plumber there are a few methods you can try:
Pour some boiling water down the drain a couple of times a day, this may not dispose of any food in the drain but can kill flies or eggs in the area. Repeat every day for a week to ensure they don’t come back.
Vinegar and Baking Soda
Combining these two as you pour them into your sink can do a pretty good job of removing any food or debris that may be hanging around. It may not kill the flies but should eliminate the source of the food. Combine with the boiling water method for an excellent one-two punch.
3. Make the Standard Fruit Trap
What can be a better method for catching a fruit fly than by using fruit? This is great when you want to know how to get rid of fruit flies naturally without the needs of chemicals or sprays.
You are going to need a bottle or jar (mason jars seem to be the standard) some plastic wrap and some fruit.
Put some near rotting fruit into the bottom of your chosen container and then seal off the top with the plastic wrap. Use a rubber band or some string to secure the plastic. Poke some tiny holes into the plastic and set the jar near where the flies are an issue. You may need to place a few of these around the house.
Once your trap seems to contain a pretty substantial number of flies, dispose of it (submerging it in water usually does the trick) and repeat. You may need to let it sit in the water for a few minutes to ensure the flies have been properly disposed of. Also, you can make this trap using bowls and dishes as well, and the bait can be replaced with honey, sugar, and balsamic vinegar. You probably have everything you need for this trap already.
4. Make a Farmer’s Almanac Trap
Apparently, this method for how to catch fruit flies comes from an Almanac in the 1800’s. Whether that means it should be more or less efficient when catching flies, I’m not sure. I’ve personally never tried this method, but many have said it can work better than the traditional fruit trap.
Throw some Milk, Sugar and Ground Pepper into a saucepan and get it simmering for about 10 minutes. Mix in some dish soap once you take it off the heat to increase the stickiness.
Pour this concoction into shallow saucepans and place them around your problem areas.
For some reason, this mixture is very effective at attracting the flies and catching them when they land on it. If they seem to escape too easily from the liquid, you can always convert it into a version of the fruit trap by covering with plastic and poking holes.
5. Or try a Paper Funnel Trap
This is another favorite trapping method. Very similar to the fruit trap, the only real difference being that instead of using plastic wrap with holes in it, you roll up a piece of paper to create a funnel and use that as a cap to your trap. Different people argue which method is more efficient between the plastic and paper; I say try both and see which ones works better for your personal fly problem. It may just depend on the type of jar or container you are using.
6. Make Your Own Spray to Kill or Deter
Sometimes you need to be a little proactive with these kinds of problems, or maybe you think the eggs are in a hard to reach place. We will cover a few different sprays you can make that should help you eliminate and repel the intruders.
Although these recipes are much safer than many insecticides, always make sure you properly ventilate the areas you spray in.
This is how to kill fruit flies directly. Grab a misting spray bottle and fill it with a solution of 70% rubbing alcohol. This mist will knock the flies right out of the sky, allowing you just to come in and sweep em up. If you can get to the eggs directly, this spray will also make quick work of them. This is also a handy general disinfectant to have around for day-to-day use.
Windex will also take care of fruit flies, but may not be what you want to coat your house in it. If it’s an area you don’t mind Windexing though, go for it.
This won’t kill fruit flies but will keep them away when applied to windowsills and doorways. Mix 15 drops of essential lemongrass oil into a bottle with 2 oz of warm water and shake well.
In addition to lemongrass, there are a few other deterrents you can use to prevent the flies from ever entering your home in the first place. Whole cloves seem to repel them quite effectively, so it may be possible to use clove essential oil the same way you use the lemongrass oil. You can also just try placing a dish of whole cloves in your kitchen as a general area repellent.
A herb name Rue left near your fruits and vegetables can also work as a great deterrent. Flies hate the smell, but it is rather pleasant for humans. Place a bit in your fruit bowl or wherever you store your produce.
I hope this guide helps you with your fruit fly infestation problem. Just a few things to remember folks:
- Remove the Source
- Remove the Flies
- Take precautions for next time.