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How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies Naturally

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies Naturally

If you have been seeing small flies or gnats in your kitchen, they’re probably fruit flies. In the high heat of summer, with a bounty of fresh summer produce in your kitchen, fruit flies can quickly become pesky invaders because they are attracted to ripened or fermenting fruits and vegetables.

Here’s how to get rid of fruit flies naturally and effectively.

Fruit Fly Biology

Fungus gnats and fruit flies are DIFFERENT

Fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) are also sometimes called vinegar flies. They are common in homes, restaurants, supermarkets and wherever else food is allowed to rot and ferment. Adults are about 1/8 inch long and usually have red eyes. The front portion of the body is tan and the rear portion is black.

Fruit flies are different than fungus gnats, though they look very similar to each other. While both insects eat rotting organic matter, fruit flies are specifically drawn to ripening produce and fermenting food and beverages, whereas fungus gnats prefer the rotting organic matter found in moist soil.

Fruit flies lay their eggs near the surface of fermenting foods or other moist, organic materials. Upon hatching, the tiny larvae continue to feed near the surface of the fermenting food. This means that any damaged or over-ripened portions of fruits and vegetables can be cut away and composted, and you can still eat the rest of it.

Fruit flies reproduce ridiculously fast. Given the opportunity, they will lay about 500 eggs! The entire life-cycle from egg to adult can be completed in about a week. This is why fruit flies are the darling of genetics laboratories.

Fruit Fly Humor

Fruit flies are especially attracted to ripened fruits and vegetables in the kitchen, but they will also breed in drains, garbage disposals, empty bottles and cans, trash containers, mops and cleaning rags. All they need is a little moisture and something fermenting or moldering.

Even your moist toothbrush bristles are fodder for the fruit fly!

Fruit flies get brought into your home from fruits or vegetables at the market that were previously infested. The adults can also fly in from outside through inadequately screened windows and doors.

Fruit flies are primarily a nuisance. However, they also can carry bacteria that can contaminate your produce and cause it to ripen and rot sooner. This bacteria won’t harm you, but it will shorten the life of your expensive, organic fruits and veggies.

Preventing Fruit Flies

Good prevention strategies simply keep fruit flies out of your home and off your produce.

1. Clean your produce as soon as you get home, and store it loose or in a new bag, rather than in the plastic bag you got from the store. Better yet, skip the plastic bag altogether, and carry reusable produce bags to the store with you.

2. Cover your fruit bowl or store fruit in the refrigerator. Sweet fruits are their favorite attractants, and fruit flies can hasten its spoilage.

3. Don’t put food or beverage containers in waste paper baskets. Always take them to a kitchen can, compost or recycling bin.

4. Use, freeze or compost all overripe fruits and vegetables.

5. Don’t keep any vegetable or meat scraps in your garbage can inside your home. Place your vegetable scraps in a bag or freezer bag and put them in the freezer. You should either make soup out of them, bury them in a compost pile, or keep them frozen in a sealed bag, and throw them away in an outside garbage can.

6. Take out your compost. Any scraps or leftovers you plan to compost you should take out right away. If you can’t get them out right away, put them in a bag in the freezer until you can. Make sure your compost pile is situated far from your home and that you bury your food scraps in the pile.

7. Wash all dishes and clear the drains in your sink. You can also pour baking soda followed by white vinegar into your drains to kill any fruit flies that may be breeding there.

8. Don’t leave wet dishrags in the sink.

9. Clean the seals of your refrigerator door, the top and under the fridge. You should especially clean the evaporation pan if it has one.

10. Clean under and around your dishwasher and stove. Food residue and crumbs are great fodder for more than fruit flies.

11. Allow the first inch of the soil in your houseplants to dry out before watering. Remove any dead leaves from the pot as they fall.
12. Make sure you have good window and door screens. Keep these pests from flying in and taking up residence!

Physical Controls

In addition to removing their food sources and preventing them from getting in, the best way to get rid of fruit flies is to use a trap.

Fruit Fly Trap Recipe

Tools

  • 1 pint mason jar or 1 recycled baby food jar, with lid if possible
  • hammer and standard nail OR ice pick OR plastic wrap, rubber band and a fork/skewer/toothpick

Ingredients

  • 1/4–1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, wine, stale beer or bourbon (white vinegar does not work well)
  • small piece of old, overripe fruit
  • 2-3 drops of dishwashing soap (this breaks the surface tension of the liquid, making it hard for the flies to escape)

Directions

  1. If you have the lid for your jar and want to make a long-lasting, spill-resistant trap, use an icepick or nail to poke 8-12 holes into the lid. You want the holes big enough for a fruit fly to enter, about 1/8 of an inch. (Don’t worry, they are too dumb to get out of such small holes, plus the dishwashing soap will help drown them.)
  2. If you don’t have the lid or want to make a temporary trap, use a piece of paper or plastic wrap and a rubber band to tightly cover the top of the jar. Poke several holes into it with a fork, skewer or toothpick.
  3. Fill the jar with about a half inch to an inch of apple cider vinegar, wine, beer or liquor. Stir in a couple drops of dishwashing soap, then place a small piece of overripe fruit into the middle of the liquid. Make sure the fruit is big enough to stick out of the liquid a little.
  4. Place the trap (or traps) where you normally see fruit flies. Every 2-3 days, dump the contents of the jar down the drain or into the compost pile, and start again with a fresh vinegar mix.

Commercial traps like these are non-toxic and very effective.

You can also buy fruit fly traps at better garden stores as well as online. (Where to find online) These commercial traps are non-toxic and work exceptionally well, but because fruit flies are so, well… fertile, their cost can add up if you don’t also put strong prevention measures into place too.

Using a combination of prevention and a good trap, there is no reason to suffer annoying fruit flies in your home anymore.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog, including Amazon.com links. These small earnings make it possible for me to continue writing this blog for you. That said, I only recommend products I genuinely love, and that I believe would be of value to my readers.
Thank you for your support!

MEDICAL DISCLOSURE: Your health is between you and your health care practitioner. Nothing in this blog is intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations is at the choice and risk of the reader.




34 Comments

  1. I hate to share my wine with a fly :) but I am going to have to try this! thanks for the great tip!

  2. Kombucha also works great! I just put some in a small dish with a couple of drops of Dawn and pretty soon it’s filled with drowned fruit flies. It’s a very satisfying sight!

    • I brew my own bucha and they love to sit on top of the cloth. In the morning, I suck them up in the vacuum. ;)

  3. One time we had a huge infestation, we had about 500 gnats we tried everything. I ended up vacuuming then. I felt like Miroku :P

    • WIND TUNNEL!!!!! XD

  4. The apple cider vinegar with some dish soap DEFINATELY works.. I just use small bottle lids (Like from my Kombucha etc).. Will have to try a bigger vessel like a canning jar. Another thing that has helped snag a bunch is an old fashioned fly strip.. Know it seems yucky having one in the kitchen, but with a messed up screen door at the moment.. I end up with flies in the house when I don’ t have the AC on… So.. have one hanging in the kitchen. Thanks for the post.

  5. Fruit flies also love wine. If you have a bottle of wine that’s “turned” you can leave the bottle open and use it as an effective fruit fly trap.

  6. Hey Dawn, this post is being featured tomorrow at Tiny Tip Tuesday! Come check it out :)

  7. This is a great idea! Thank you for sharing on Saturday Show and Tell. I hope you’ll join us again this week with some more great ideas!
    -Mackenzie
    http://www.cheeriosandlattes.com

  8. You’ve shares some really excellent tips in this very useful post! Fruit flies can really be a nuisance, and it is good to know natural ways to get rid of them.

  9. Awesome ideas! Thanks so much for sharing at Thrifty Thursday—I’m featuring this post this week. :)

  10. We make the apple cider vinegar/dish soap solution any time we get fruit flies and it always gets rid of them for us! I have never tried to cover it though, but will definitely try next time so I don’t have to worry about my kids trying to drink the “juice” or spilling it :).

  11. Great info and perfect timing, though wish I had seen this when I was battling them last week. My solution? A wine bottle with just a 1/2 c. of wine left in it, and a cone of paper stuck in the top. They fly in through the cone and can’t get out. I also sprayed a bottle of 1/2 white vinegar, 1/2 water (usually reserved for cleaning) in the air where they were flying around. They hated it and disappeared quickly.

  12. Great inforamtive post with tons of info! I do something similar to this to get the fruit flies we had this year. Thank you for linking up at H2W last week, I hope you’ll join us this week with another great post! Also, this post was chosen as 1 of my top 3 this week, so this post will be featured!

  13. So where do you store the wet rags to allow them to dry? (or did I miss this part?)

    Ironically this year we’re not having a problem so much with fruit flies as with ants! But I think I’m bringing them in from the garden (ick)!

    • That is up to you and your kitchen. :) I hang mine on a hook just outside the back door. Dries faster outside too! If you have a big infestation of fruit flies in your drains, you might have to remove all wet towels and toothbrushes from the room after use, until you’ve solved the problem with traps or baking soda and vinegar.

  14. So glad to have this info, as I discovered fruit flies yesterday on some overripe peaches. Will definitely be doing this today!!

  15. Wow! This is a lot of good information you have here.

  16. we do this when we have fruit flies and it works great. Though we just set out the shallow dish of apple cider vinegar and a drop of soap. The flies can’t fly back out. It works fabulously.

  17. This was a very informative and helpful post–thank you for the information.

  18. There are a few different variations of the fruit fly trap but this is the one that I always use! Works every time! And it’s just about that time that I have to set out a few traps so thanks for the reminder :)

    By the way, I’m featuring you on my blog tomorrow morning, so come check it out!

  19. Vinegar is perfect for getting rid of gnats and fruit flies.

    Awesome info and solutions. Thanks for sharing.

  20. This is great! I love that recipe.

  21. they love my kitchen drain with the disposal – Have not have any this year! (afraid to type that not to curse myself)

  22. I’ve tried this with stale soda (cannot be diet.) It works.

  23. Great post ~ very informative ~~ thanks, ^_^ (A Creative Harbor)

  24. These little critters are disgusting thanks for the info! Did not know they had red eyes!

  25. Good tips. Glad I found this through It’s a Keeper’s linky party. I linked in a salad using leftover roast lamb. Have a super week.

  26. This is great info! I need this because fruit flies love to be a pain with the mini compost bucket we have in the kitchen “where it all goes fresh from the kitchen” to then be taken outside and the hubby get’s quite annoyed with them. Please come share this at our link party – “Home is Where the Heart is” Homesteading and Homemaking http://www.homesteadsimple.com/home-is-where-the-heart-is-link-it-up-wednesdays-2/
    Please feel free to link any other posts you’d like to share!

  27. I love the comic of the fruit fly personal ad :)

    Thanks for sharing…I am not having as many problems with fruit flies this year, for some reason. Maybe the drought conditions are affecting them. But I usually have them in the kitchen so will want to read this again!

    Found you on the Wildcrafting Wednesday link!

  28. I’ve actually read that, if you are trying to ferment something like ACV, letting a few fruit flies in can speed up the process. I still cover my stuff, but it was a relief last year because I used a cloth with too big a weave and they got into my fermenting vinegar. I kept it, but used that bottle for cleaning and washing.

    I haven’t had a lot of luck with fruit fly traps, either homemade or store bought. I have actually had the best luck with fly strips. I hung one directly above my sink, front and center. I initially hung it there because there was already something to hang the strip from in that spot, but it worked so well I left it there. Because both the flies (who I bought the strip for to start with) and the fruit flies tend to buzz around over the sink (for different reasons- the flies like the window and the food residue and the fruit flies like the moisture and, well, the food residue as well I guess) it has been really effective, and I noticed diminished numbers of both right away.

  29. I need to do this! I abhor fruit flies. Thanks for the great idea. Found you through the Thrifty Home Penny Pinching party! Would love a follow back if you get a sec! Thanks! – Jen

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