When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. ➥Learn more
When you have fruit flies in your home your first reaction is not a feeling of joy, but rather a panic and desire to immediately find out how to get rid of fruit flies fast. I’ve had my own share of fruit fly infestations in my kitchen and thankfully I’ve learned how to prevent fruit flies from ever taking hold in my home.
We’re confident you’ll find this article beneficial.
Table of Contents...
How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies
Have you noticed tiny little bugs flying around in your home? If you happen to have a bowl of fruit regularly stocked in your kitchen it could be the culprit. While there are many reasons to keep seasonal fruit around, there is one problem they tend to draw: fruit flies! Fruit flies are a common nuisance among households and they can be rather pesky and difficult to get rid of. They can also become a nuisance for businesses, especially where produce is sold. There are many effective ways to get rid of fruit flies in your home and keep them from becoming problematic.
While these pests don’t bite or sting people, there is concern with having them lingering around in your kitchen. Fruit flies are primarily drawn to fermenting substances and feed off of the yeast that results from the decomposition process. Food they have come in contact with can become contaminated by bacteria and diseases they may be carrying, which can ultimately make you sick.
Fruit flies are often referred to also as gnats. While these two pests share in similar qualities, they’re not exactly the same. To the naked eye, it’s difficult to distinguish the difference between a gnat and a fruit fly. Fruit flies are a little bit bigger than gnats and more brownish in color while gnats are completely black. Both pests have one clear thing in common; they’re bothersome and they’re never alone. Fortunately what works to get rid of fruit flies will also work on gnats as well as other common types of house flies.
How Do Fruit Fly Infestations Occur
Once fruit flies make their way into your home an infestation can occur rapidly. They are most prevalent during late summer and early fall, but they can survive year-round under the right conditions. These pests may be brought into your home through produce they’re already present in from the store or through openings in doors or windows around your home. The biggest attraction that draws these pests in is rotting or over-ripened food. They have an incredible ability to pick up the scent of fermenting substances from far away.
As the name implies, fruit flies particularly favor sugary foods like fruits. Likewise, they’re also fond of fermenting sugars that are present in alcoholic drinks; although, they’ll draw towards any rotting produce, meat, garbage, and even feces. Another factor that allows them to thrive is moisture. Drains, garbage disposals, trash cans and mop buckets can all be breeding grounds for fruit flies.
These pests will often choose surfaces near ripening foods and moist substances to lay their eggs. They can lay as many as 500 eggs and take up to one week to go through the 4 stages of the life cycle into adulthood. Given the right conditions, fruit flies can live for up to 40 to 50 days. During their lifespan a female fruit fly can lay multiple batches of eggs. Once an infestation is present in your home you may also find them in other areas such as bathrooms and the laundry room.
Natural Ways to Get Rid of Fruit Flies
If you have children or pets in your home, you may want to go with a natural approach that doesn’t involve the use of harsh chemicals that could be toxic or dangerous. There are many ways you can rid your home of these pests safely and effectively by using fly traps.
— Apple Cider Vinegar Trap
You know the old saying ‘You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar’? This doesn’t apply with fruit flies. In fact, gnats and fruit flies are highly attracted to apple cider vinegar as it’s made from fermented apples. You can create a trap using apple cider vinegar in a number of ways.
To make a simple fly trap all you need is a bottle of apple cider vinegar and plastic wrap. It doesn’t matter if the bottle is half or even nearly empty. At least ¼ of a bottle of vinegar will do. Remove the cap from the bottle and place a piece of plastic wrap over the top. Poke a small hole in the plastic wrap that will allow fruit flies to get in. Once they’ve entered the bottle they will be unable to get out and eventually die.
Another approach you can try calls for apple cider vinegar, dish soap, and a bowl. Use an adequate amount of vinegar for the flies to drown in. Add a few drops of dish soap. The purpose of this is to break up the surface tension of the liquid which plays an important factor in killing the fruit flies. Ordinarily, flies would just sit atop of a liquid surface and are able to fly out. The molecules in dish soap break up liquid surface tension enabling the flies to sink and drown.
— Funnel and a Mason Jar Trap
For this type of trap regular vinegar will do. You will also need a sheet of paper, a mason jar, and a piece of over-ripened or rotting fruit. Pour a small amount of vinegar into the jar then add the piece of fruit. Roll the piece of paper into a funnel and tape it in place with the pointed side in the jar. The wide open end of the funnel will draw more flies in but they won’t be able to figure out how to fly out of the jar and eventually drown. This method is effective and there’s less of a chance of having vinegar spilled out as with the bowl method.
A tip for trapping flies faster using an apple cider vinegar trap: try heating up the vinegar first. This will release the pungent fragrance and the buggers will not be able to resist.
An alternative to vinegar that also works is red wine. Oddly enough, despite their grotesque taste in rotting foods and other questionable matter, fruit flies are also attracted to red wine. If the thought of having the smell of vinegar-based fly traps around your kitchen seems too unpleasant or isn’t working as well as you’d like, try using a small amount of red wine in its place.
Video | How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies & Gnats
— Sticky Traps
Another type of trap that will catch and kill fruit flies are sticky traps. You can purchase commercial sticky traps from retail stores that you can hang around areas where you see a lot of fruit flies. These are more convenient and easier to place around different areas than fly traps made from bottles or jars containing liquids.
The fruit flies and gnats you see flying around are adult flies. So while traps are a great way to catch and get rid of the flies present in your home, it won’t eliminate any eggs or larvae that may be left behind. Once you have successfully eradicated the flies it is important to remove breeding sources and clean around any areas that are susceptible to breeding grounds. Otherwise, you will continue having a problem with fruit flies in your home.
Fruit Fly Pesticides
Fly traps aren’t for everyone and some methods may not always prove successful. If you don’t like the idea of unsightly fly traps around your home and need to get rid of fruit flies fast, a pesticide can do the trick. There are different types of pesticides available for homeowners that can be used in or around the home to kill off and repel fruit flies. Be sure to read the label on the product to ensure it lists fruit flies and gnats under pests it eliminates.
For particularly large infestations a fogger is very effective. These are pesticides contained in a canister that release a mist or fog upon activation in a contained area. They’re able to penetrate difficult areas where pests could be breeding and are usually available from retailers where bug sprays and insecticides are sold. Be sure to follow the directions on proper use of the product and take any necessary actions. Most insect fogging products advise to cut off any source of open flame such as pilot lights prior to using and may recommend a waiting period before entering the room the product is being used in.
Prevention | Fruit Flies
A key to preventing an infestation from happening in your home is eliminating potential sources that attract them as soon as possible as well as breeding grounds. Popular sources that attract and draw gnats and fruit flies include the following:
- Dirty dishes
- Open garbage cans
- Damp areas
- Old potting soil
The biggest factor in preventing a colony of fruit flies from forming and reproducing is to remove their food supply. As a general rule with produce that is left unrefrigerated, only buy or bring in what will be consumed within a couple of days. Throw out any fruits or vegetables that become over-ripe immediately. If you’re not going to be consuming or using them right away, try freezing them to avoid waste or store in the refrigerator.
Don’t let those dirty dishes pile up. Stuck on food and water that sits in cups and bowls is an open invitation to many types of parasites. Wash dirty dishes frequently or, at the very least, rinse off any stuck on food and be sure there is no standing water. Also be sure to clean the sink of any food particles that remain and clear garbage disposals. An added measure to prevent your drains from becoming breeding grounds for drain flies is by pouring bleach into them or some type of bacteria digesting agent that is safe for use on drains. Just be sure to NEVER MIX BLEACH WITH AMMONIA if using this method.
Keep a lid on your trash cans and change the bag out regularly. Don’t toss cans or bottles that contain any amount of liquid in your garbage can, especially soda cans or wine bottles. Empty the contents and rinse them out before placing in the trash can. If you compost, keep a lid on the container or place outside to avoid drawing in pests.
House flies, among other types of common house pests, will also breed in moist areas so you want to eliminate these by all means. Repair leaks around your home, especially the kitchen and bathroom. Avoid leaving damp towels lying around. Empty mop buckets and thoroughly rinse out or wash mop heads, allowing them to dry completely before putting them up. The same goes for sponges.
House plants can also draw in gnats. Avoid over watering your indoor plants and change out soil to minimize the occurrence of breeding. If you have an indoor pet clean out litter boxes and cages frequently. For nurseries, empty out diaper pails often or use individual baggies tied tightly to dispose wet/dirty diapers.
Gnats and fruit flies are very tiny and can make their entry into your home through a number of ways. It’s impossible to keep them out altogether, but ensuring the screens and seals around windows and doors is a great way to deter them. It may be tempting to leave the door open when carrying in bags of groceries, etc. but keeping it closed in between going in and out will help keep pests from getting into your home.
Another trick to thwarting them off may be sitting in your spice cabinet! Cloves are a natural deterrent for house flies. They hate the stuff. You can repel them from your kitchen by placing whole cloves around windows and door frames or hanging up little sachets containing cloves around your home.
Be aware that there is no one magic solution to get rid of fruit flies that works for everyone. There are various types of fruit fly species throughout the world. Although many species share similar qualities and behaviors in feeding habits, when it comes down to getting rid of fruit flies what works for one type may not work well on another. Try different methods to see what works best for your home. If after taking all measures to get rid of fruit flies and gnats in your home you find they’re still a nuisance you may need to call in a professional pest control team to locate the source and eradicate the problem.