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Buzzing around your kitchen, fruit flies overstay their welcome within moments of entering your home. These tiny insects—often confused with gnats or drain flies—are attracted to overripe fruit, fermenting liquids, and similar food sources. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about fruit flies. Whether you prefer DIY methods or need professional help, our guide will walk you through how to get rid of fruit flies and prevent future infestations.
Understanding Fruit Flies
To effectively combat a fruit fly infestation, it’s helpful to know what they look like and how they behave.
What Are Fruit Flies?
Fruit flies are similar in size to gnats and drain flies with a profile that mimics that of a house fly. While drain flies have fuzzy, moth-like bodies and fungus gnats resemble small mosquitoes, fruit flies have transparent wings, large black or red eyes, and body coloring that fades from black in the back to tan in the front. You will typically see them hovering over ripe produce in grocery stores, restaurants, and home kitchens.
Causes of Fruit Fly Infestations
Fruit flies are attracted to ripe, rotting, or decayed produce and fermented substances, such as wine. Many homeowners inadvertently bring fruit flies into their homes with fruit or vegetables from their garden or the grocery store. Alternatively, they may fly into your home through an open window or door. Trash cans, garbage disposals, mops, and sink drains make good breeding grounds for fruit flies.
The Life Cycle of Fruit Flies
Once fruit flies find a food source, they multiply at an astonishing rate. Female fruit flies can lay eggs by the hundreds, and they hatch in as little as 24 hours. Fruit flies speed through their first three stages of life—from eggs to larva to pupa—and reach adulthood in less than two weeks. As adults, they may stick around for another month. Development happens faster in warm environments, while cool temperatures slow down larvae and pupae and kill adult fruit flies.
Preventive Measures Against Fruit Fly Infestations
You can safeguard your home by making it a less hospitable environment for fruit flies. Here’s how.
Proper Food Storage
Wash fresh produce as soon as you bring it home to get rid of any fruit fly larvae or eggs. Store fruits and veggies in the refrigerator instead of a fruit bowl so they are less accessible. The cool temperatures of your fridge should also shorten the life span of any fruit flies that make their way inside and stunt the development of their young.
Regular Cleaning and Maintenance
Keep your kitchen clean, putting away leftovers and cleaning spills promptly. Wipe down your table and countertops to get rid of food residue and take out the trash regularly. Clean your sink and garbage disposal thoroughly and often to eliminate potential breeding grounds.
DIY Solutions for Fruit Fly Infestations
If you find yourself facing a fruit fly infestation, you have several DIY options for addressing it. Here are four simple but effective methods to try.
Vinegar and Dish Soap Trap
Fill a bowl with apple cider vinegar—not white vinegar—and a few drops of dish soap. For best results, microwave the bowl to make the mixture more aromatic. Leave the bowl uncovered on your kitchen counter. The smell of the apple cider vinegar will attract the flies, and the dish soap will reduce the surface tension so they sink and drown.
Pour a small amount of red wine into a glass or jar, then cover the top with plastic wrap. Poke a few small holes in the plastic with a toothpick, and use a rubber band to secure it. Though fruit flies will be able to crawl inside to reach the wine, they should be unable to find their way out. Alternatively, you can use a near-empty bottle of wine, beer, fruit juice, or vinegar.
Place a piece of fruit—such as a ripe banana, peach, or tomato—inside of a jar. Roll a piece of paper into a funnel, ensuring the bottom opening is less than 1/4 inch in diameter. Tape it so it holds its shape and place it inside the jar with the point just above the bait. As with the plastic wrap method, fruit flies will be able to enter but unable to leave.
Alternatively, you could place the bait inside the bottom of a plastic bottle. Cut off the top of the bottle just above the label, put the fruit inside, and then place the top upside down inside the bottle as a funnel.
In addition to setting a DIY fruit fly trap, fill a mister or spray bottle with rubbing alcohol. When you see a fruit fly, spray it with rubbing alcohol. Then wipe it up with a rag or paper towel.
Professional Solutions for Fruit Fly Infestations
If your homemade fruit fly traps don’t seem to be working, consider purchasing commercial pest control products on Amazon or at your local home improvement, hardware, or grocery store. Brands such as TERRO and Rescue! make traps designed specifically to attract and kill fruit flies. You can also hang strips of flypaper from your cabinets, coat your drain with a fly-killing gel, or spray your fruit and vegetable garden with an insecticide that targets fruit flies.
For severe or persistent infestations, consider hiring a pest control company. Although professional pest control costs more than DIY methods, it may be the quickest way to deal with your fruit fly problem. Plus, a reputable exterminator can take care of other pests simultaneously. Many providers offer affordable plans that include routine quarterly service and complimentary follow-up appointments for issues that arise between visits.
By properly washing and storing your food and keeping your kitchen clean, you can significantly reduce your chances of attracting fruit flies and disrupt their life cycle. Paired with DIY solutions, such as a dish soap and vinegar trap, these preventative measures are often enough to banish fruit flies from your home.
In the event of a severe or persistent infestation, consider supplementing your DIY efforts with commercial products or professional pest control services. Reputable companies such as Terminix and Orkin have the expertise and equipment to handle fruit fly infestations and other pest problems safely and effectively.
How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies FAQ
What naturally kills fruit flies?
A bowl filled with apple cider vinegar and a couple of drops of dish soap naturally kills fruit flies by drowning them. Rubbing alcohol kills these flying insects on contact.
Why are there fruit flies in my room with no food?
Fruit flies may enter your room through an open window or door, regardless of whether there is food inside. They may also have found a hidden food source, such as crumbs or residue from a spill.
What do fruit flies eat?
Fruit flies eat ripe and overripe fruits and vegetables. They may also eat other rotting organic matter, fermenting liquids, plant secretions, and the honeydew produced by aphids.
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