Many people ask me how to get rid of fruit flies. With more than five years of consuming lots of fresh fruits and making daily green smoothies, I know a thing or two about preventing and stopping a fruit fly invasion.
Know Your Enemy
Fruit flies are not harmful and do not carry germs like house flies, but they are a big nuisance and can make life unbearable in your home. It’s impossible to enjoy a green smoothie or glass of wine when they dive bomb your drink. It’s no fun checking each and every piece of apple while eating it to avoid getting any “extra protein”.
Fruit flies are prolific breeders, laying up to 500 eggs. The life cycle from egg to adult takes just 8-10 days, so they multiply rapidly. Once fruit flies take hold in your kitchen, they won’t go away on their own. A small family of fruit flies will quickly turn into Fruitflymageddon!
Fortunately, you don’t have to put up with fruit flies. You can prevent an invasion, and quickly stop one too.
Fruit Fly Prevention
The single best thing you can do to combat fruit flies is to prevent them from thriving in your home. This means being meticulous about keeping your kitchen clean.
Even a drop of dried fruit juice or green smoothie will draw them in, so keep your blenders, counter tops, cutting boards, and floors clean. Be sure your sinks are kept clean, with no fruit residue from washing out your blender pitcher or smoothie containers.
It is essential to have a trash can with a tight, sealing lid. If you compost, keep your counter top compost bucket covered and take it out to your compost bin frequently. Recyclable containers should be washed out thoroughly before being placed in your recycle bin. An empty, un-rinsed soda bottle is a fruit fly Mecca.
Keep your compost bin or pile away from your home, or fruit flies may find their way from their breeding ground into your kitchen. They are small enough to squeeze through window screens!
Fruit flies are attracted to more than just sweet fruit and fruit juices. They can be drawn to non-sweet vegetables – even onions and potatoes. They are also attracted to beer, apple cider vinegar, wet washcloths, and sponges, as well as sink drains – particularly if there is any food residue in or around the drain.
Ripening and over ripe fruit sitting on your kitchen counter is the main draw for fruit flies. Bananas are particularly attractive. If fruit flies are a consistent problem, then move fruit into the refrigerator as soon as it has ripened. Many fruits can be ripened faster when placed in brown paper bags. This also creates a barrier between the fruit and fruit flies.
Fruit that is over ripe should be used immediately, refrigerated or frozen.
However, meticulously cleaning up after yourself and removing all fruit from your kitchen won’t get rid of the fruit flies. They may move onto any moist areas of your home, hanging around sinks, the bathroom, or anyplace where they can find moisture. It’s often necessary to trap them to get rid of them.
Non-Lethal “Catch and Release”
I don’t like killing things, even bugs that find their way into my home. Plus, my husband is an amateur entomologist so he has a soft spot for creepy crawlies. So my first choice is to “catch and release”. You can do this by creating your own fruit fly trap.
The first step is to thoroughly clean your kitchen (you need to do this regardless) and remove all fruit. There shouldn’t be anything sweet anywhere in your kitchen.
Then place a 1-inch thick banana slice into a small jar and wait for the fruit flies to flock to it, being the only sweet thing in your kitchen. Once you’ve got a large gathering, quickly put the lid on and carry the jar outside. Remove the lid and let them fly away.
If you have a hummingbird feeder, place the jar near the feeder and watch hummingbirds enjoy the high-protein feast!
Non-lethal trapping requires that you regularly monitor the trap. You can’t leave a slice of banana in the jar too long or it will only draw more fruit flies, or encourage them to lay eggs.
Venus Fly Traps
Sometimes you’ll see Venus fly trap plants sold in the fruit section of grocery stores and marketed as a great way to control fruit flies. However, my experience is that the nectar in a Venus fly trap has nothing on the intoxicating sweetness of an over-ripe banana. My plant starved while the fruit fly swarm ignored it and clung onto the bananas on my counter.
Fruit Fly Traps
The final option for trapping fruit flies is the lethal, drowning method. You can purchase commercially available fruit fly traps in hardware stores or online. These traps are funnel shaped so that fruit flies can get in, but it’s hard for them to fly out. They use a non-toxic liquid attractant that lures them in and drowns them.
You can also make your own fruit fly traps. One do-it-yourself method is to fill a wide mouth mason jar about 1/2-3/4 full of apple cider vinegar (it must be apple cider vinegar). Fill the jar the rest of the way with water until the bubbles reach the top of the jar.
Other DIY fruit fly trapping methods recommend using apple cider vinegar with a few drops of dish soap, and covering the top of the mason jar with plastic wrap with holes small enough that fruit flies can get in, but not out as easily.
I’ve never used these DIY methods before and from what I’ve read about them, they have varying degrees of effectiveness. My personal experience is that a commercial fruit fly trap is the most fast and effective way to eliminate fruit flies. (I’ve had great success with BEAPCO Fruit Fly Traps.)
Regardless of which type of trap you use, be sure to keep the traps out for a few weeks or the next generation will hatch and re-infest your kitchen after a week.