Learn powerful up-to-date methods from the experts that will stop fruit flies in their tracks and get rid of them for good.
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Have you ever left fruit on the kitchen counter a little longer than you should have or left beer, wine, or open beverage bottles sitting for more than a day? If you have, then you have probably experienced the seemingly magical appearance of fruit flies. Coming out of nowhere they create health and sanitation issues besides just being a pain. Not to worry. With a little knowledge, it is possible to rid your home of these pests. So, without further ado, here is everything you might want to know about fruit flies and a few things you will probably wish you hadn’t learned.
Fruit Flies, Drosophila melanogaster, were originally native only to Africa though now they are one of the most common pests found in the world. Highly adaptable, they have found their way to every continent on the planet including Antarctica, and thanks to the prevalence of international trade can even be found on some of the smallest islands in remote areas of the South Pacific.
To a great extent, the fruit fly’s adaptability is due to their exceptionally short life span and high reproduction rate. In a strange twist of fate, these same traits, which make them such a nuisance to homeowners and businesses, also make them highly prized in the scientific community. Six Noble Peace Prize recipience has used Drosophila in their award-winning research. They are a mainstay subject used in the study of life history, evolution, microbial pathogenesis, physiology, and genetics.
What are Fruit Flies?
Drosophila melanogaster is commonly referred to as fruit flies or vinegar flies, depending on the geographical area in which they are being discussed. They are small flying insects that are considered a nuisance and a health risk around the globe. They are easily identifiable. Adult females will measure 3-4 mm long with males being slightly smaller. Both have oval-shaped bodies.
Fruit flies have yellow-brown or tan bodies with a belly that is black and gray on the underside. Both males and females have striped abdomens with the males terminating in a distinguishing black patch. Their most distinctive characteristic though is their eyes. A fruit fly’s eyes are normally a bright red with rare examples being a darker red.
Though all fruit flies outside of Africa share a common origin they have transformed over time into several classifiable types. The most common varieties found in the United States are:
Caribbean Fruit Flies
Citrus Fruit Flies
Mediterranean Fruit Flies
Mexican Fruit Flies
Olive Fruit Flies
Western Cherry Fruit Flies
It should also be noted that though you do hear of fruit flies causing crop damage on the news from time to time, these are an entirely different species, Ceratitis capitata, in the family Teprotide. They share nothing in common with the Drosophila melanogaster fruit fly that you may find in your home or business beyond having wings and being called by the same name.
What Do Fruit Flies Eat?
A fruit fly is a very finicky eater though you might not think so. Its preferred diet consists of organic matter that is decaying, rotting or fermenting. Damaged fruit and vegetables are favorites as they will provide a meal for both the adults and their young as it slowly breaks down. This is also the reason they find dumpsters and sink drains so attractive. The sludge that is found in them can feed them for generations. A few other fruit fly family favorites are beer, wine, sweetened drinks, manure, and decaying mushrooms or other fungi.
To help eliminate fruit flies in your home or office, keep trash emptied regularly. Never allow food scraps or drink containers to be left indoors for more than a few hours and dispose of them as far from occupied buildings as possible in sealed containers or bags. Fruit flies are animals of limited intelligence. They aren’t hatched intending to be a nuisance, they simply want to survive. Deny them a food source or nesting site and they will have no interest in sharing a space with you.
Fruit Flies Vs Gnats
Both fruit flies and gnats are irritating pests but beyond that point, they are very different. Fruit flies though small are much larger than gnats and much more colorful. Gnats generally appear as black dots. Gnats are prone to swarming where fruit flies rarely congregate other than around food sources. Gnats lay their eggs in the soil and like warm vegetation close to a ready water source. Fruit flies lay their eggs in decaying organic matter and prefer damp but not continually wet conditions. Perhaps the most important difference between fruit flies and gnats is that gnats can and will bite. Fruit flies aren’t capable of biting.
Fruit Flies Vs Flies
Fruit flies and common house flies belong to entirely different families and are very dissimilar in appearance. Flies are normally grey to black while fruit flies are tan with striped bodies that are thinner than regular flies. House flies are normally twice the size of fruit flies but more importantly, house flies have been identified as carriers of at least 65 diseases including typhoid fever, cholera, poliomyelitis, dysentery, and tularemia. This is due to common flies preferring to feed and nest on rotting flesh. Whether a dead animal on the side of the road or the paddy from a discarded hamburger decaying meat grows much more dangerous pathogens than those found on the fruits and vegetables that fruit flies prefer. Fruit flies are disease carriers but to a lesser extent.
Fruit Flies Vs Drain Flies
Fruit flies and drain flies can appear very similar as they are often comparable in size. However, drain flies ‘ bodies are heart-shaped while fruit flies have oval-shaped bodies. Drain flies are also darker in color and have fine hairs covering their heads, wings, and antennas. The differences extend beyond looks. Drain flies prefer the dark and will rarely emerge in well-lit areas. This is the exact opposite of fruit flies who prefer bright areas and avoid dark locations. Drain flies are also less picky about what they eat and are harder to get rid of. Drain flies infest drain pipes and even if their food source is flushed away will stay put and wait. Fruit flies will often leave an area when their food sources are removed and look for better feeding grounds.
Fruit Flies Vs Bar Flies
There is no comparison to be made between bar flies and fruit flies since they are the same animal. More accurately called the vinegar fly. That is unless you are talking about the old-timer that is eternally stationed at your neighborhood pub. Fruit flies love alcohol of almost any type but are most attracted to red wine and especially beer. This makes clubs and bars as natural a place for them to congregate as it is for people.
Where Do Fruit Flies Come From?
One of the most annoying things about fruit flies is how the little vermin seem to appear out of nowhere. One minute you happily preparing a delicious meal and the next you are swatting the air trying to keep them away from your eyes or jerking your arms like you’re having seizures to shoo them away.
Understanding how they appear so quickly requires a basic understanding of their biology and habits. From egg to adult fruit flies develop very quickly. Because of this if they find their way into your home or business at any of their 4 stages of development, they can overwhelm you in short order. Eggs most commonly enter a home on produce whether bought at a grocery store, farmers market, or from your own garden. Unfortunately, organic goods are even more at risk of containing fly eggs because they haven’t been exposed to pesticides and other treatments that could disrupt the fruit fly life cycle.
Fruit fly larvae store a ready supply of nutrients and then hide as they must go dormant for a short time while they pupate. You could compare this to a caterpillar spinning a cocoon except in the case of fruit flies they like to hide away from predators underground. This makes potted plants a suspect source. If newly introduced from outside, they are very likely to be a source and even if they have been in the building for some time, they are prime territory for a single fly to develop into an infestation.
Adult fruit flies are amazing flyers and possess remarkable senses. It is believed, by some scientists, that under the right conditions they can smell rotting fruit over 4 miles away. Proper sanitation is key to preventing fruit flies from taking up residence in your home apartment or business.
Trash cans and dumpsters are always an attractive area for a fruit fly. Properly sealing garbage and keeping receptacles properly cleaned and sanitized is a great help in eliminating fruit fly problems before they start. These are not the only suspect areas to watch though.
Sink drains, especially those with garbage disposals, are prime feeding and breeding areas for fruit flies. So are areas that might be overlooked during regular cleanings. Under toasters, juicers, coffee machines, stoves and refrigerators are all areas that need to be watched for signs of fruit fly activity.
How long do fruit flies live?
How long fruit flies live is greatly dependent on the weather. They thrive in warm humid climates and tend to die out quicker in colder climates. Their minimum natural lifespan is 25 days but on average they will live for 40 to 50 days. What is truly amazing, is that in that short period of time a female can produce over 500 offspring and all of her female babies will be fertile and ready to breed in less than two weeks. That is why it is so important to eliminate fruit flies when you first see the first signs of their presence. A single pair of mating Drosophila can flare into a full-blown infestation in the blink of an eye. Avoiding, which came first the fly or the egg discussion, we will begin talking about the lifecycle of the fruit fly with the eggs being laid in a location where there is moisture and organic matter present like a sink drain, dumpster, damp mop, or on a piece of fruit.
After mating the female will lay anywhere between 20 and 50 eggs. In a very short period these eggs will hatch and the fruit fly larvae, commonly called maggots, will begin to feed and store the nutrition and energy they will need in the transformative stage of their development. This stage of a fruit fly’s life generally lasts for approximately four days depending on food supply and climate.
Once sated the larvae develop into pupae and will leave the nesting site and find a cool dry dark spot somewhere nearby to continue their development. At this stage, they are very dark in color and are often mistaken for mouse droppings. Closer inspection though will reveal that they now possess a tiny distinctive set of horns on what will eventually be their heads. As they develop further, they will begin to grow six legs and their wings will become visible through the pupa case. This entire process lasts another four days and in the end, a fully developed adult fruit fly will emerge. Two days later the new fruit flies are fully matured and ready to breed.
That is only 10 days from freshly laid eggs to breeding adults capable of laying another 20-50 eggs. This is the scenario as it would play out if two adult fruit flies found their way in through an improperly screened window or door left ajar. You can well imagine how quickly their numbers could multiply if 50 or even 20 eggs were brought in on a piece of fruit or hitched a ride on a head of lettuce.
Are Fruit Flies Harmful or Dangerous?
Are fruit flies dangerous? In a word, YES! The majority of people view fruit flies as nothing more than a filthy nuisance. This is completely understandable. After all, they don’t bite or sting and even if they did, they aren’t poisonous.
The dangers that fruit flies present are because they are what professionals call a disease vector. That is, they spread viruses, bacteria, and other illnesses spreading microorganisms from location to location, and very often that location is your food or food preparation area. They contaminate your food and you eat it and become ill. Considering that fruit flies love to live and breed in disgusting locations like garbage cans, dirty mops, and drain pipes the fact that fruit flies are disease carriers shouldn’t be a big surprise but the magnitude of the risk is something that needs to be acknowledged.
While fruit flies can spread any microorganism that they come in contact with a recent study published in the Journal of Food Protection sites three main risks to human health as being the most common and therefore the most concerning. Those were E. coli, Salmonella; and Listeria.
The Danger of E. Coli Contamination from Fruit Flies
E. coli is a bacterial pathogen found most often in animal droppings. Animal waste is a prime feeding spot for fruit flies. They dearly love warm, moist manure. It not only provides a feeding ground for adults but is ideal for raising their young. When fresh, it has the moisture and nutrient content to make it ideal for its larva to feed and grow when first hatched. As it dries it transforms into the cover for the pupae to mature in protected from predators. It is little wonder they are so fond of it.
The problem is when fruit flies spend time in animal waste and then visit your barbeque or favorite restaurant, they are likely to bring E. coli with them. E. coli produces a powerful toxin that damages the lining of the small intestine and can make humans very sick.
Signs that you have ingested food that was contaminated with E. coli may include:
Diarrhea ranges from mild and watery to severe bloody stools.
Stomach cramping and pain that might extend to tenderness to the touch.
Nausea and vomiting
While many E. coli infections are mild in nature if diarrhea is persistent, bloody or you have signs of dehydration then medical attention should be sought immediately.
The Danger of Salmonella Contamination from Fruit Flies
Salmonella infections are much like E. coli and the two are often mistakenly diagnosed as each other depending on their prevalence in the local community. Just like E. coli, Salmonella is transferred to humans when fruit flies feed on and nest in feces from large mammals. The flies land in the manure and subsequently transfer the bacteria to food that is then consumed by people or to areas where the food is prepared.
Salmonella contamination can be difficult to track in part because the fruit flies that act as the vector can range over a very large area. Another factor that makes its source difficult to establish is that it has an incubation period that can be as short as a few hours or as long as two days.
Signs of Salmonella poisoning may include:
Blood in the stool
In the majority of cases, Salmonella is less dangerous than E. coli poisoning but the symptoms can be much more severe and harder to deal with. Salmonella poisoning also lasts longer with the initial attack lasting up to 10 days and it possibly taking several months for a full recovery to be achieved.
While salmonella can make you feel like dying, it is rarely that severe unless you have underlying health risks or it finds its way into your bloodstream. At the first signs of dehydration or complications health care professionals should be consulted.
The Danger of Listeria Contamination from Fruit Flies
Listeria is also found in the feces of animals but tends to be much more persistent and can often remain in contaminated soil or water for extended periods. This only increases the risk of fruit flies serving as a disease-carrying vector. Not only can the fruit flies’ love of animal droppings as feeding and nesting sites cause them to be contaminated but during the pupae stage of their development, they will often burrow into soil that could be tainted. This means the emerging adults will already be carriers.
If Salmonella exposure is difficult to track then Listeria can be nearly impossible as it has an incubation period that lasts up to thirty days and the majority of those who come in contact with it will never feel any ill effects. To add to the difficulty, Listeria bacteria can survive refrigeration and even freezing meaning that the contamination can occur at almost any point in the food production process.
As mentioned, most healthy people exposed to Listeria bacteria never get sick but it can be very serious for pregnant women and fatal to infants, those over 65, and anyone with a weakened immune system. They should seek medical advice at the first signs of a Listeria infection.
Common signs of a Listeria infection would include:
Confusion or changes in alertness
Loss of balance
If Listeria enters the nervous system the following might be experienced:
Listeria is one of the least known pathogens that fruit flies can carry but can have the direst effects by attacking the least able to recover among us and even the unborn. It is highly advisable, that if you fall into one of the danger categories, then anytime there is a Listeria outbreak reported you should be checked by a qualified physician.
How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies?
Fruit flies are a nuisance and menace to human health. If you have them in your home or business it is in everyone’s best interest to eradicate them as quickly as possible. They may serve their purpose in the greater ecosystem of the world but around people and especially their food they have no place. The risk is simply too great.
As prolific as they are and with the amount of waste society generates that provides them food sources and breeding grounds there is no way they are going to be eradicated on any scale that would place their population in danger. So, there should be no moral issues with eliminating them from your immediate living area, if that is even completely possible.
While complete extermination in your vicinity may not be entirely practical, it is possible to keep their presence down to a manageable level. Many methods can be employed to help control fruit flies where you live. Which ones are best is highly dependent on the extent of the infestation and where they have chosen to nest. Here we will look at the most popular and effective means that can be employed to eliminate fruit flies from your home or business ranging from some fairly simple DIY methods of controlling fruit flies to those utilized by professional services.
How to Avoid Fruit Fly Infestations?
The easiest way to eliminate fruit flies from your home or business is to never have them there in the first place. It could be near too impossible to not once have one fly come in through an open door or tag along on the back of your shirt but one fly does not an infestation make. Two creates the possibility if you make them comfortable enough and 20 is an instant fruit fly rave that will be hard to overcome.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; here are 10 key steps to keep fruit flies out of your home or business.
Keep doors and windows sealed– Fruit flies are amazing little creatures who will travel miles to find a good meal or that perfect nesting spot so don’t let them in or they can be harder to get rid of than those out-of-work college roommates that came by to visit and just won’t leave. Keep doors and windows closed, even if you have kids and if they must be open to enjoy fresh air make sure they are properly screened. In commercial establishments, air curtain-type fly fans should be installed on all doorways.
Wash produce as soon as you get it home– Fresh fruits and vegetables are wonderful to cook with and a much healthier choice for snaking than junk food but whether you bought it at the grocery, the farmers market, or picked it from your own garden/orchard it could be covered with fruit fly eggs or tiny larvae. Washing all produce with a vegetable scrubber or soft brush will not only remove these pests but also will remove any residual chemicals that might be on your food.
Store ripe fruit and vegetables in the refrigerator or sealed containers– A bowl of fruit on the table might be a great way to add color to a room and encourage people to eat healthily but it is a fruit fly magnet. As fruits and vegetables ripen, they release ethanol into the air signaling to fruit flies that a prime nesting site is available. Some studies have found that fruit flies can detect this compound from as far away as four miles and be drawn to it. Storing produce in the fridge has the added advantage of extending its shelf life reducing waste in the home.
Discard overripe and rotting produce– A single overripe apple, banana or even onion can become a fruit fly breeding ground in a matter of hours. Check all produce in the home daily and properly dispose of all overripe fruits and vegetables. If you do keep a counter fruit bowl, pay special attention to it making sure it is refreshed daily and that its contents are washed before being consumed.
Properly Dispose of food waste– No one enjoys taking out the trash and sealing those garbage bags can be a hassle sometimes but a single discarded apple core or the skin from a peeled potato can supply food for 500 baby fruit flies. Remove all food waste as often as is practical. Seal the bags it is in, and dispose of it as far from entranceways as possible. When possible, it is also best to use sealable trash receptacles both inside and out. The more finicky you are about food waste the less likely you are to have a fruit fly problem.
Keep cleaning materials clean and dry– It may seem like a small thing but so is a fruit fly. Dirty dishrags and mops that are left damp can easily supply enough food and moisture for fruit flies to consider them prime breeding grounds. Always wash rags and mops, especially those that have been used to clean up sweet beverage spills, and hang them to dry. Fruit fly eggs require moisture to mature and dry rags and mops are of little use to them.
Keep the kitchen clean and dry– Not to be insulting but most kitchens aren’t as clean as people think they are. Drip pans under refrigerators, minor spills left under juicers, spilled drinks that find their way into cracks, damp crumbs left in the pans of toasters and toaster ovens, back corners under makeup tables, garbage disposals that aren’t properly cleaned, drains that collect muck in their P-traps, these are all superior breeding areas for fruit flies. Making the deep cleaning and sanitizing of all kitchen spaces a regular routine goes a long way toward avoiding fruit fly invasions. When possible, move all appliances and furnishings and clean ceiling to floor and from walls to the center of the room.
Keep drains clean– Both kitchen and bathroom drains can provide ideal locations for fruit flies to lay their eggs. There are two DIY methods of drain cleaning that come recommended for fruit fly prevention. One is to flush drains with boiling water and use a metal pipe brush available at many hardware suppliers and then flush once again with more boiling water. This helps remove any particles that might be clinging to the pipe walls and provides a ready food source. The second method is to pour a mixture of half a cup of salt, half a cup of baking soda, and a cup of apple cider vinegar into the drain and let it sit overnight. In the morning flush with boiling water.
Keep garbage disposals clean– Disposal units are a natural haven for fruit fly eggs and larvae to develop. They are generally always wet and a supply of food is constantly being delivered. Luckily, it is easy to clean garbage disposals. Simply pour it full of ice, add 1 cup of salt or vinegar, and then run the disposal with the water running as you normally would. This scrubs out food particles that might be stuck inside the disposal and as an added bonus it has been said that it will sharpen the blades of your disposal.
Keep garbage receptacles clean– Whether it is your kitchen can or an outside dumpster it is going to get dirty. Grease is going to leak through sacks, sugary drinks are going to settle and food crumbs are going to collect in their bottoms. All of this makes garbage cans an ideal location for fruit flies to breed. Cleaning garbage cans is not a pleasant chore but is a key step to helping prevent fruit flies from invading your home or business. They should be scrubbed and sanitized on a regular basis to deny fruit flies a food source.
It is much simpler to keep fruit flies out of a home or office than it is to get rid of them once they have established themselves. While this list is far from exhaustive, taking the steps listed above and maintaining good general hygiene practices will make your home or office much less attractive to fruit flies and go a long way towards having them choose another local to set up housekeeping.
Getting Rid of Fruit Flies Naturally
No one wants to have fruit flies buzzing around them and having them contaminate your food with dangerous bacteria is a definite turn-off. At the same time, unless you are a trained professional, using chemicals in your home or business could present as many risks as benefits. Luckily there are many completely natural ways to dispose of fruit flies without putting your family or employees at risk. They may be slower than hiring professional exterminators and require more diligence on your part but if you are willing to put forth the effort, they can be very effective. For best results, it is best to combine these DIY methods of exterminating fruit flies with the cleaning methods that are discussed above.
Use Traps to Catch Fruit Flies
The easiest way to reduce the fruit fly population without resorting to harsh chemicals or spending much money is to create traps using the items most people already have in their homes and turning the fruit flies own nature against it. Here are six easy methods of trapping fruit flies you can try at home that are completely natural.
Glass Apple Cider Vinegar Fruit Fly Trap– Fruit flies love apple cider vinegar. It combines all of the things they crave in one aromatic package that they simply can’t resist. You can use this against them by pouring glasses a quarter to half full and then either covering the tops with tissue secured with a rubber band or plastic wrap. Poke small holes in the covering and place the traps in areas where you frequently see fruit fly activity. Fruit flies have an amazing sense of smell and will follow the odor of the vinegar through the holes and into the glass. Without the vinegar’s gas trail to guide them, they will be unable to find the holes and escape the trap and you can dispose of them as you see fit.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Dish Soap Fruit Fly Trap– Another way to use fruit flies’ love of apple cider vinegar against them is to combine it with dish soap. Just take any handy container pour in the apple cider vinegar and add a healthy helping of the liquid dish of your choice. Mix it well trying to avoid making it foam and leave it sitting wherever you commonly see fruit flies. The vinegar attracts the fruit flies like a magnet and when they try to take a sip the soap coats their wings making it impossible for them to fly away. They will be trapped in the liquid and drown.
Wine or Beer Bottle Fruit Fly Trap– If you enjoy a few cold ones now and then or like to relax with a glass of wine in the evenings, then this fruit fly trap is ideal for you. As a bonus, it is the easiest and most fun to create. The process is very simple, open a bottled beer or a bottle of red wine. Drink the majority of the contents but leave an inch or so of liquid in the bottom. Leave it sitting undisturbed in an area where you have observed fruit flies. Fruit flies love beer and wine and will follow the fumes from the beverage into the bottle. Once inside, the narrow neck makes it difficult for them to find their way out and the majority of the fruit flies will be trapped inside.
Fruity Fruit Fly Trap– There is a reason Drosophila are called fruit flies. Fruit is their favorite food and nesting site. You can easily turn the tables on them by placing slices of bananas, apples or other tasty treat treats in a bowl and covering it with plastic wrap. Poke small holes in the wrap just large enough for the fruit flies to enter. The Flies will follow the scent of the fruit through the holes and become trapped inside the bowl. For the best results, use fruit that is overripe to rotten. The more disgusting you find it to be the more fruit flies will be attracted to it.
Candle and Water Fruit Fly Trap– Fruit flies have wonderful eyesight but they are nyctalopic. That is, they can’t see well in the dark. Because of this they instinctively avoid dark areas and are drawn to light sources. You can use this instinctive behavior to eliminate them. Place a tall candle in a shallow dish. Fill the dish with water and light the candle. Extinguish all other lights in the area. The darker the environment the better. The fruit flies will be drawn to the only light sources available. When they fly too close to the flame the heat from the candle will singe their wings and they will fall into the water and drown.
Funnel Fruit Fly Trap– This is another very simple trap to construct and can be created in two different fashions. The easiest is only possible if you happen to have a funnel that is slightly larger than any clear container you might have. Just place fruit, apple cider vinegar, or any other suitable bait in the container and place the funnel on top, narrow end down. The fruit flies will enter through the funnel and become trapped in the jar. If you don’t happen to have a funnel, one can be easily constructed by rolling a piece of paper into a cone. It is best to seal the joint between the container and funnel with tape but not absolutely necessary provided there are no cracks the tiny fruit flies can escape through.
If you are not fond of DIY projects or just want the simplest fruit fly trap possible there are still old-fashioned flypaper sticky traps available in most grocery and home supply stores. These normally come as two sheets stuck together and you basically just peel them apart and lay them where you see fruit flies landing. Their effectiveness can be improved by placing bait, like a slice of banana, in their center. It should be noted though that they will trap anything that touches the glue area including hands and paws and should not be used in areas where pets or children can reach them.
Homemade Natural Fruit Fly Spray
Using any chemical spray can be problematic, especially in food preparation areas. Luckily though an all-natural non-toxic spray that kills fruit flies can easily be created from readily available ingredients. Mix a few drops of lemongrass, rosemary, and peppermint oils into two cups of water and mix well. These are available wherever essential oils are sold. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and use it where you see fruit flies. This mix is non-toxic to humans and can be used indoors or out. It should be used with caution around pets though. There have been some reports of dogs and cats having an allergic reaction to it.
A second possible fruit fly spray can be made by mixing vodka with aloe vera juice and lemon eucalyptus oil available at most health food stores and pharmacies. This seems to work best as a repellant but can kill fruit flies if they are sprayed directly.
How to Eliminate Fruit Flies in a Kitchen
The first thing that needs to be understood is that there is little hope of maintaining a completely fruit fly free kitchen without the help of a professional extermination company or constant, consistent effort on your part. There is no one-shot and done solution to fruit flies in a kitchen or any other area. They are simply too numerous, reproduce too rapidly, and are capable of covering too much territory to ever be completely done away with.
Preventing Fruit Flies in the Kitchen
The first step to getting rid of fruit flies is to deny entry to any new flies that may attempt to find a way into the kitchen. It does no good to destroy all the fruit flies in the kitchen if new ones are gaining entry as fast or faster than you can destroy them.
Wherever possible keep doors and windows closed or make sure they are properly screened. In commercial buildings, fans known as air curtains are a great help as fruit flies have difficulty penetrating the wall of air, they put out.
To further help prevent this scenario from occurring you need to wash all produce as soon as it is brought in. In a commercial kitchen, this may or may not be practical but whenever possible as soon as produce arrives it should be washed, transferred to clean containers, and its shipping boxes properly discarded outside of the kitchen. In kitchens within the home, fruits and vegetables should be cleaned and stored in the refrigerator as quickly as possible. A single piece of produce left unwashed has the potential of carrying literally hundreds of fly eggs or larvae.
Beyond this step, every effort should be made to assure that no overripe or decaying produce is allowed to stay in the kitchen refrigerated or not. Fruit flies have the remarkable ability to detect the ethanol given off by fruits and vegetables breaking down from as far away as four miles and will make every effort to reach its source when searching for a nesting spot. This means the fruit bowl sitting on the kitchen counter could be what’s drawing flies to your home.
Another prime attractant for fruit flies is beer, wine, fruit juices, and other sweetened drinks. Basically, anything that contains sugars has the potential to ferment as it ages and goes bad. Just like decaying produce the gases this process releases will act as a magnet and draw fruit flies from miles around. Do not store empty beverage containers in the kitchen area.
Lastly, maintain a clean kitchen. Deep clean regularly paying attention to drains and out-of-the-way places that could hold moisture and trap food particles that could then provide nesting sites for fruit flies.
Killing Fruit Flies in The Kitchen
One of the reasons it is so important to keep fruit flies out of a kitchen is there are few if any sure and safe methods of killing them outside of calling in a professional exterminator. There are sprays that you can buy but they present the risk of tainting food. Even if non-toxic it is doubtful that they are tasteless and the simple truth is that they will only kill the adults and do nothing for the eggs or larvae that have already been deposited in hidden spots around the kitchen.
You can make your own all-natural sprays by blending vodka with lemon eucalyptus oil and aloe vera juice. This mixture purportedly makes an excellent repellent but only kills fruit flies when they are directly sprayed. Another is a concoction created by mixing a few drops of lemongrass, rosemary, and peppermint oils in water and spraying it around the kitchen. Again, this seems to be more of a fruit fly repellent and there have been reports of some animals having an allergic reaction to this mixture so it should be used cautiously around pets.
The other kitchen fruit fly solution is to trap them. There are several traps that you can construct on your own from readily available materials. The majority of these involve placing some form of bait in a bowl or glass. The bait can be a piece of fruit, apple cider vinegar, yeast, sugar dissolved in water, or even old beer or red wine. You then cover the bowl or glass with plastic wrap and poke small, think toothpick size, holes in the plastic. The fruit flies can find the holes to enter by following the trail of the gases that the bait gives off, but once inside have no guide to lead them out. They become trapped and you can dispose of them as you see fit. Note that it is important to use clear containers and wrap when possible. Fruit flies don’t like dark places so these traps aren’t as effective if the interior of the trap is dim.
Another type of homemade fruit fly trap is a candle trap. It is even simpler. Just place a candle in a shallow dish or pan with a little water in the bottom. Light the candle and turn out the lights. Fruit flies will be drawn to the flame, singe their wings, fall and drown in the water.
Many traps can be bought online, in hardware stores, and in most big box stores. Many of them are simply commercial-produced variations of the DIY traps discussed above but there are two exceptions. One is sticky traps like fly tapes and fly paper these are considered to be only moderately effective for fruit flies unless some type of bait is added to them. The safest traps and most suitable especially in a commercial kitchen are electric traps that use ultraviolet light to attract the fruit flies and then electrocute them. Some of the advantages that these bug zappers offer are that they are chemical free and UV radiation not only attracts the fruit flies but kills any microbes they might be carrying. Their downside is that the good ones are expensive to buy and they do have to be emptied and cleaned regularly.
How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in a Drain
Kitchen and bathroom drains are favorite hangouts for fruit flies. They generally are always damp and an ample supply of food gets delivered on a regular basis. The design of modern plumbing with P-traps to prevent sewer gas intrusion has created a catch point for food waste that will naturally be inviting to them.
Once they have become established in drains it can be very difficult to eliminate fruit flies without the necessity of taking pipes apart. There are however several methods that aren’t too intrusive but have shown some success. These are mainly different ways of flushing out the flies, their larvae, and eggs while at the same time cleaning the pipes and removing their food source. Many websites suggest pouring bleach or ammonia down the drain to kill the fruit flies and their young but experts almost unanimously disagree with this suggestion. It may successfully drive out the adults but the larvae will burrow into the muck on the pipe walls and not be affected. Two days later they emerge as a fresh batch of adults and you will back to square one.
Here are a few suggestions that have been found to show some success when used regularly to keep drains clean and kill the fruit flies in them.
At some point in time when the drain won’t be disturbed for several hours, combine ½ a cup of salt with ½ a cup of baking soda and pour it into the drain. Follow this with 1 cup of white vinegar and let it sit; preferably for 6-10 hours. Then pour several cups of boiling water down the drain. The foaming action of the vinegar and baking soda mixing helps to scrub the gunk out of the pipes and gives off carbon dioxide gas preventing the fruit flies from being able to breathe. The boiling water flushes the lines clear and helps remove any remaining grease.
Pour one cup of vinegar down the drain and let it sit for several hours then flush with boiling water. This is best used as a preventive measure as it works by speeding up the decaying process of any food particles trapped in the drain denying the fruit flies a food source. With repeated treatments over several days though, it has been found to reduce the fruit fly population.
Use a drain brush to scrub out the pipes. This is the surest way of getting rid of fruit flies in a drain. Special brushes can be purchased at most home supply stores that are designed to snake through drains and scrub them clean. Using them may require that the drain cover be removed or a pipe loosened. It depends on the particular drain you are working on. It is best to flush the pipes after they have been scrubbed to prevent the loosened gunk from resettling and causing a blockage.
Use commercial drain cleaners. This should be done with caution as some consumer and commercial drain cleaning chemicals can cause severe burns and/or give off toxic fumes. Read all labeling carefully and use recommended best practices and personal protection equipment.
Getting Rid of Fruit Flies in a Garbage Disposal
If your garbage disposal is attracting fruit flies then there is decaying food trapped in it. Luckily, the garbage disposal is one of the easier locations to eliminate fruit flies from. All that is needed is to get it clean and then keep it that way. Grab a hand full of ice cubes and throw them inside the disposal. Add about 2 tablespoons of salt and a cup of white vinegar. Turn on the water and run your garbage disposal as you normally would until all the ice is chewed up and washed away. Every garbage disposal is slightly different so there can’t be any guarantees. For the majority of designs on the market though, this procedure will leave them clean fresh, and completely free of fruit flies. For the best results repeat at least once a week and you shouldn’t have any more problems. If it doesn’t work then there is a deeper problem and it is time for you to call in a pest control professional.
Getting Rid of Fruit Flies in the Bathroom
People are usually a little shocked when they discover that they have fruit flies in their bathroom. After all, they are FRUIT flies. The truth is that while fruits and vegetables are the favorite feeding and breeding spots for fruit flies, in a pinch they will lay their eggs in any area that provides moisture, warmth, and decaying biological material for the young to feed on. All of these requirements are more than met in the average bathroom. Moisture in bathrooms is a given but what many don’t ever think about is the fact that every time you bathe or shower, you are sending millions of dead skin cells into the drains and many soaps, even today, are made from animal fats. That is an ample food source for fruit flies to flourish. The question is how to destroy fruit flies in your bathroom before they drive you mad.
The best way to start is to do a thorough cleaning. Pay special attention to out-of-the-way places like behind the toilet. Also, keep an eye out for any cracks or crevices like where tubs or shower stalls meet the floor and surrounding walls or grout may have come loose between tiles. These areas should be sealed with caulk to prevent the tiny fruit flies from using them as nesting sites. If you are like many people and keep your mop or a toilet wand in the bathroom then these should be replaced or at a minimum moved to a location outside the building. They can be a fruit fly magnate.
Once your bathroom is pristine and the obvious Fruit fly attractants have been removed, you can get on with the business of eliminating the fruit flies and their progeny. Adult fruit flies are annoying but they are also the easiest to eliminate. They can be trapped using any of the commercially available traps or one of the DIY fruit fly traps that have already been described in some detail. The most effective of these would fall into one of two categories; funnel traps and cling film traps.
Fruit fly funnel traps are made by placing bait, apple cider vinegar, beer, red wine, a piece of fruit, or sugar water and yeast, into a clear jar or glass. Then placing a funnel, a commercially manufactured one of one made from a sheet of paper rolled into a cone, into the mouth of the container. Make sure there are no gaps the fruit flies can escape through around the edges. The fruit flies follow the chemical trail the bait gives off down the funnel but can’t find their way back out and become trapped in the jar.
Cling film fruit fly traps operate on much the same principle. The main difference is that instead of a funnel, the top of the container is covered with plastic wrap with tiny, think toothpick or fork prong sized, holes punched in it. The aroma of the bait guides the fruit flies in but they can’t find their way back out.
Another option for killing adult fruit flies is with flying insect killers that are available everywhere from convenience stores to home supply chains. Though not as strong as the chemicals used by professional pest control agents it should be remembered that they are poisonous and should be used with extreme care. Follow all recommended cautions on their labeling and long-term exposure should be avoided.
You can also opt for non-toxic DIY fruit fly sprays such as mixing lemongrass, lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, or clove oils in water and using them as a deterrent spray. The downside of these sprays is that while they are non-toxic some people might have an allergic reaction to them and the fact that they don’t kill the fruit flies. They only drive them to other locations. Every business and home is different so your means of removing fruit flies from the bathroom is a matter of personal preference.
Once you have implemented your plan to get rid of the adult fruit flies it is time to destroy any eggs, larvae, or pupae that might be lurking about waiting to re-infest the bathroom. Provided you have sealed any possible hiding places in the room and removed any damp rags, mops, or brushes that might serve as a fruit fly nest site, the most likely place these vermin might be hiding in a bathroom is in the drains.
The surest way to destroy fruit fly nests in bathroom drains is to hire a professional drain cleaning service to come in and use industrial-grade chemicals and equipment. If this is more extreme than you would care to go then the second-best alternative is to use commercially available drain cleaners as you find in a wide variety of stores. Despite being available to the general public it should be remembered that these chemical drain cleaners can be very dangerous. They should be used and stored with strict adherence to their labeling.
You can also create your own drain cleaners. One of the simplest is to combine ½ a cup of salt with ½ a cup of baking soda and pour it into the drain. Then add a cup of vinegar and let it sit overnight. Larger doses can be used for bigger pipes but the proportions should remain the same. The next morning flush well with the hottest water available. The foaming action of the vinegar and baking soda along with the natural cleansing of the salt will loosen built-up grime and give off carbon dioxide to help smother young fruit flies. Some people have advised pouring straight bleach or ammonia down drains to get rid of fruit flies but this method is of limited value only reducing the fruit fly population rather than destroying it.
Regardless of the method, you chose to use to clean your drains they should be scrubbed clean with a drain brush and flushed to remove any remaining debris that could lead to re-infestation.
Get Rid of Fruit Flies in Restaurants
It is little wonder that fruit flies love restaurants: plenty of fresh produce and the trimmings left from its preparation. Leftovers galore including half-empty beer and wine bottles. Restaurants are a fruit fly’s dream. Unfortunately, fruit flies are a restauranteur’s nightmare. They make the eatery seem unclean, drive customers to distraction, and are disease-carrying vermin that can create health hazards. Luckily, if you own or run a restaurant controlling fruit flies, though difficult, is possible if you are willing to invest the time and effort.
Here is a 6-point plan to keep your restaurant fruit fly-free.
Keep everything spotless– This should be a given when preparing food for the public but to prevent fruit flies in a restaurant requires staying clean above and beyond what normal standards dictate. Equipment should be moved and everything scrubbed from ceiling to floor on a regular basis. All food scraps should be properly disposed of outside of the restaurant and as far from entrances as possible. Food preparation areas should be cleaned and sanitized several times during every shift. Any spills should not only be wiped up but the surfaces immediately cleaned. No empty or partially empty beverage containers should be allowed to remain inside the restaurant.
Rinse and soak– Dirty glasses, dishes, pots, and pans should not be left where fruit flies can get to them. They should be immediately rinsed or placed in baths of water and bleach to keep them from attracting fruit flies. Large garbage cans on rollers are very handy for this purpose.
Keep drains clear– Drains are a favorite haunt for fruit flies as they are constantly damp, collect biological debris, and generally stay warm. Drains should be cleaned and flushed at least once a week and professionally cleaned on a regular basis to prevent fruit fly infestations.
Keep storage clean– Storage bends should be washed sanitized and dried between every use. They should be emptied and cleaned each time fresh produce is delivered. The boxes produce arrives in should never be used for storage. They should be broken down and discarded outside, away from restaurant entrances.
Use traps– Fruit flies are going to get into a restaurant. It is almost impossible to prevent a few from slipping through. Using traps to catch and kill the adults that find their way inside helps prevent them from finding a nesting site and laying eggs. There are a wide variety of traps that can be constructed from ingredients commonly found in most restaurant kitchens and many others available online and in most home improvement stores. Generally, the best option for a restaurant is to employ electric UV traps that will eradicate any flies that are drawn to them. Mostly being walls or ceiling mounted they don’t take up valuable space and aren’t likely to be knocked over. These traps also have the advantage that the UV radiation they produce kills any microbes the fruit flies may be carrying further safeguarding the public’s health.
Hire an exterminator service– Fruit flies are a major nuisance to someone dining out and if prevalent enough can ruin a restaurant’s reputation. If the above steps don’t keep you on top of a fruit fly incursion call in the professionals. It may seem like an extreme step but it’s better as a little added expense than an empty dining room.
Getting Rid of Fruit Flies on Plants
Drosophila isn’t usually thought of as a plant pest but usually and never are two very different subjects. If you are seeing fruit flies around your plants then there are certain steps you can and should take to avoid having your entire property overrun with the pesky little beast.
Most of the time if you spot fruit flies around your plants is simply a case of happenstance. Look for other possible sites in the vicinity that could be their actual haunt and focus on eliminating them there. Some things to look for are garbage cans and dumpsters, compost piles, and sources of overripe fruit including fruit bowls and fruit-bearing trees.
If these are eliminated then you might have fruit flies actually in your plants themselves or at least on them and in the soil. Here we offer a few suggested steps you can take to eliminate the fruit flies without abandoning your gardening dreams.
Turn the soil– Fruit fly larvae can thrive from fungus and micro-orgasms that grow in the soil. This, unfortunately, means that the healthier your potting soil is the more attractive it will be to fruit flies. They will lay their eggs just under the surface. By gently stirring the first 1-2 inches of soil you will expose the eggs and larvae to sunlight and dry air killing them.
Let the soil dry– Fruit fly eggs and larvae require moister to thrive. Provided your plants can handle a temporary drought, allowing the first few inches of soil to completely dry will disrupt the fruit flies’ reproductive cycle and decimate their population.
Repot– If you suspect you have fruit flies in your soil and the above measures are unsuccessful then you can try repotting the plants with fresh soil. Be sure to seal the old soil in plastic bags and dispose of it as far from your property as possible.
Clean your plants– Fruit flies don’t normally feed on healthy plants but they will feed on some types of fungus that grow on them. Fungicidal sprays and plant cleaners are available at most gardening centers. Use them according to their labeled directions. When the fungus is gone the fruit flies will leave also.
A few other less labor-intensive strategies you can try if you are only seeing a few fruit flies passing in the area is to put out traps for them. There are many fruit fly traps on the market or you can easily make your own from the directions found in this guide. Perhaps the best traps are those that nature provides. Depending on local laws and regulations you can place carnivorous plants like Venus flytraps or pitcher plants in the area and let them do what they do naturally, attract and eat fruit flies.
Best Fruit Fly Traps You Can Buy
There are a wide variety of traps sold online and in most home stores that are designed to protect your property from fruit fly incursions. Their prices run from just a few dollars for a pack of sticky traps to hundreds for a commercial quality UV bug zapper. We can’t endorse any particular brands but can provide you with a general guide to what is available by type.
Sticky Traps for Fruit Flies
Sticky traps are the most economical to purchase and perhaps the most versatile as they can be placed or hung in just about any location from kitchen counters to tree trunks. They can also be the messiest as they grab anything that comes in contact with them including hands and clothing.
Fruit fly sticky traps come in a multitude of designs ranging from simple sheets of paper with an adhesive coating to charmingly designed stacks that can be placed in your garden or potted plants without being obtrusive. Most do not come with any type of attractant other than being colored yellow which is supposed to help them draw insects. Indiscriminate, sticky traps will not only catch fruit flies but gnats, moths, and unfortunately beneficial insects like bees.
Liquid Lure Fruit Fly Traps
Liquid lure fruit fly traps are almost as cheap to use as sticky traps but much superior in the results they offer. Most work on similar principles to the DIY fruit fly traps we have described throughout this article but are much smaller and less obvious than the home-built traps. In fact, many are them are designed to add to rather than distract from the decor.
They offer the advantages of being discreet, targeting fruit flies almost exclusively, and being fairly hygienic as the majority are spill-proof and you simply toss them when they get full. Their use is very simple. Add the supplied liquid bait. Place in the area you have observed fruit flies and rebait or dispose of them as needed.
Electric Fruit Fly Trap
Electric fruit fly traps are the most expensive option but you get what you pay for. They use ultra-violate light to attract fruit flies and then either, in rare instances, trap them on sticky pads or more often electrocute them.
The biggest advantage these traps offer is that though they can be more expensive initially, they provide years of service with little to no maintenance. They are the most effective commercially produced fruit fly traps you can buy. They not only kill fruit flies but the microbes that they carry helping to prevent the spread of disease and normally being wall mounted or hung from the ceiling they don’t occupy valuable counter space or get knocked over.
Get Rid of Fruit Flies for Good
There is no one-and-done solution for fruit flies. Using methods available to the average home or business owner, getting rid of them, once they are established, takes hard work, constant effort, and time. Keeping them out so that they aren’t a recurring problem takes never-ending vigilance. Becoming lax in cleaning for just a few days or allowing one egg or a larva-carrying piece of fruit to slip through can have literally hundreds of the little vermin swarming through your place before you can blink.
To permanently be rid of fruit flies you must keep your home or business spotlessly clean from the ceilings to the drain pipes including under appliances and any cracks and crevices that might exist. You must scrupulously remove any food and beverage containers and any food scraps from the premises and make sure no residue is left on floors, countertops, or in garbage cans.
You must make the building as difficult for fruit flies to enter as possible and provide a means of killing any adult fruit flies that get in before they have the opportunity to deposit their eggs. In short, you have got to take care of a hundred little things in order to protect your property from becoming a fruit fly haven.
That is perhaps the best argument for consulting a professional extermination service to help you in your efforts. They have access to equipment and supplies that the average person isn’t allowed to use. More importantly, a pest control expert has the knowledge and experience needed to make your property fruit fly-free. To make it as permanently fruit fly proof as is humanly possible without you having to completely disrupt your life in the process.
If you have a fruit fly problem and would like to partner with a pest control service with a proven track record of customer satisfaction in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, contact Nextgen Pest Solutions for a free quote. A veteran-owned and operated pest control company that uses eco-friendly pest control techniques that are EPA-certified safe for people and their pets, Nextgen Pest Solutions is there when you need them.