Summer is just around the corner bringing with it a bounty of fresh produce. Vine ripened tomatoes. Peaches. Melon. Berries galore. Makes one’s heart glad as we dream of fruit pies, caprese salads, or just a bit bite into a juicy nectarine. Buyer beware, however. Pesky fruit flies may be hitching a ride into your home via fruits and veggies purchased at the grocery or farmer’s market and what better (or worse?) way to ruin your pie ala mode than to have a teeny fruit fly buzzing around your head and your home?
And although they are tiny, they are mightily challenging to get rid of once they’ve crashed your kitchen. Worse yet, they reproduce at a rate that can only be described as astonishing: According to Orkin, a pest control company, female fruit flies lay hundreds of eggs in a very short time, commonly on moist foods like overripe fruit and vegetables. Then, within 24 to 30 hours, those eggs hatch into larvae, or maggots, that feed on the food source on which they were laid. Within about a week those larvae become sexually active and not more than two days later, start the cycle over again — leaving you with way too many fruit flies to stomach. Eww, gross!
So, Virginia, what is one to do? Blame the landlord? The neighbors? The market? While you can cast blame wherever it suits you, it won’t help get rid of these little pests. Fortunately, there are simple and effective ways to banish these freeloaders from your kingdom. All you need is some supplies you probably already have on hand (don’t you just love that?), persistence, and some patience.
FIRST: Why Are There Fruit Flies In My Home?
Our friends and pest experts at Orkin advise that fruit flies are attracted to ripe, rotting or decayed fruit and produce, as well as fermented goods like beer, liquor and wine, but they can also inhabit trash cans and garbage disposals if sufficient food is present. Ahhh, that explains the struggle around the kitchen sink! To cut off fruit flies from their food source and prevent them from entering your home,take these preventive measures to avoid getting fruit flies in the first place.
- Keep all kitchen surfaces spotlessly clean
- Throw out overripe produce the moment it becomes overripe (those bananas!*)
- Store fruits and veggies in the fridge
- Wash produce as soon as you get home to remove any potential eggs or larvae
- Take out the garbage regularly
- Clean up spills ASAP, especially fruit juice or alcohol
If, despite your best efforts, these wee invaders declare war on your household, defend yourself with simple homemade remedies or traps available in stores and online.
SECOND: How Do I Make My Own Fruit Fly Trap
Prepare yourself to be astonished how little time, effort, or money this will involve. Below you’ll discover several DIY traps you can make right now.
Apple Cider Vinegar + Plastic Wrap
- Pour a bit of apple cider vinegar into a glass. It’s sweeter than white vinegar and will attract fruit flies faster.
- Cover the opening with a bit of plastic wrap and secure it in place with a rubber band
- Poke a few small holes in the plastic so the fruit flies can enter
- Dump the mixture every few days because seeing dead fruit flies floating is, well, unappealing
Paper Cone + Vinegar + Old Fruit
- Pour a generous glug of apple cider vinegar into a glass or jar and a chunk of very ripe fruit
- Roll a piece of paper into a cone and stick it into the jar with the narrow opening down. A piece of tape will help hold the cone’s shape.
- Discard the vinegar and fruit cocktail when there are dead flies and begin again
Vinegar + Dish Soap
- Pour a generous slug of apple cider vinegar into a small bowl or glass
- Add three drops of dish soap (it will make the flies sink and drown)
- Mix with a fork
- Leave uncovered
- Clean out and refresh as needed
Old Beer or Wine
(wait, is there such a thing?!?)
- Fruit flies are attracted (like so many of us), to the smell of wine
- Leave out a bottle of wine or beer with just a few unfinished sips left in the bottle
- The bottle’s skinny neck will trap the flies inside
- The Old Farmer’s Almanac recommends adding a couple of drops of dish soap to either the beer or wine dregs for surer success.
THIRD: I Hate DIY! Where Can I Buy A Trap?
You can spend a little ($6.00) or a lot ($60) on a fruit fly trap. Why not spend a little and take one of the top two recommended traps out for a spin?
- Aunt Fannie’s FlyPunch (3.5 stars) available at Amazon, Target, Grove
- TERRO Fruit Fly Traps (4 stars) available at Amazon, Kroger, Target, Home Depot
FOURTH: Don’t Play The Blame Game
No matter how clean you keep your home, and how properly you store your summer bounty of fruits and vegetables, chances are that you may still see a fruit fly this summer (as I have already. UGH). If you do, don’t beat yourself, your neighbor, or your landlord up. Simply clean like a maniac, keep your produce in the fridge, and keep a bottle of apple cider vinegar at the ready. Wishing you a pest free summer!
* Don’t toss those bananas that are a bit too ripe! Instead, toss them in the freezer. Read our next blog to learn how to turn overripe bananas into The Best banana bread.
Resources: Good Housekeeping, Old Farmers Almanac, Orkin, Bon Apetit, FDA