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How to get rid of fruit flies

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Fruit flies are the bane of the kitchen chef, attracted to fruit and vegetables, they are almost impossible to get rid of if you shoo them away, they just keep coming back.  The trouble is that fruit and vegetables are a constant source of attraction and as they are here to stay, you will need to find some different techniques to keep the food and lose the fruit flies.

What does a fruit fly look like? (image source)

Are you really looking at fruit flies?

There are other kitchen creepy crawlies which could be bugging you so make sure you are actually looking at fruit flies before you learn how to deal with them.  The fruit fly does have its impersonators.

Fruit flies range in appearance from light tan to reddish-orange and brown so are not to be confused with the fungus gnat which is grey or black and likes soil and houseplants.  Overripe fruit is one of the fruit flies favourite morsels, hence the name, and they are also attracted to other high fructose substances. 

How to get rid of fruit flies

If you want to avoid toxic chemicals particularly in the kitchen where you are preparing food then there are alternatives but first, here are some easy steps to take which will help you get rid of fruit flies in the first place:-

  • Keep countertops clean and free of tiny particles of food or any spillages  – fruit flies hate clean surfaces
  • Clear up spillages immediately and clean down the worktops several times a day for all those tiny particles and residues that you can’t see
  • Keep sink drains and plugholes free of food particles as these locations are the perfect breeding grounds for fruit flies just as they are for drain flies.
  • Get rid of overripe fruit as this will not only attract fruit flies to feed but the female fruit fly lays her eggs on the surface or inside any fruit that’s past its best, rotting or decaying.  Each female fly can lay up to 500 eggs in one hit so act swiftly as soon as you spot the first fly – the larva will remain in situ for a few days after they first hatch, feeding on that soft banana you have forgotten to throw out because someone in the household likes their bananas black.  The trouble is that the skins tend to split as bananas over ripen making this the perfect little breeding factory and food store for generations of fruit flies
  • Empty trash cans and clean them
  • Clean dirt, debris and grime from household appliances including dishwashers
  • Scour cabinets which have food residue on them from cooking
  • Flush out sinks and drains with a cleaning fluid
  • Keep sinks wiped dry when not in use
  • Keep household mops and sponges clean and dry after use
  • Make a trap with these instructions

How can you get rid of fruit flies?

Simple cleaning won’t be enough once fruit flies have established themselves so you will also have to take some direct action in addition to your domestic regime.  Here are some standard and safe household products which you should find in your kitchen and which will get rid of the fruit flies whilst being safe to use and kind to the environment.

Apple cider vinegar – fill a glass or bowl with apple cider vinegar, cover with saran wrap and keep taut with a rubber band.  Poke tiny holes in the top with the end of a very sharp knife, the flies will be attracted to the vinegar as they love anything fermented and then once inside the trap, will not be able to escape

Apple cider vinegar and dish soap – fill a bowl with apple cider vinegar and add some washing up liquid and mix well.  The scent of the cider vinegar will tempt the flies and the washing up liquid works by decreasing the surface tension of the liquid so the flies are immediately immersed as soon as they land meaning you don’t even have to cover the bowl with plastic wrap

Old beer or wine – leave an old bottle of wine or beer near to the area where you have spotted the flies, they will be tempted by the sweetness of the alcohol and fly into the bottle and then not be able to leave

Fruit flies will eventually go away on their own but many people don’t want to wait that long and if you are infested in your kitchen then it’s not a nice thought that you are sharing your food preparation and cooking areas with some visitors and you will want to be rid as soon as possible.

Other interesting facts about fruit flies

  • Fruit flies don’t just feed on fruit and vegetables, they are also attracted to the residues on cleaning mops and surface sponges so, when you have cleaned up your kitchen, clean up your cleaning tools too
  • Fruit flies don’t carry horrible diseases but they can make you ill by transferring contaminants from dirty surfaces onto your food much in the same way that ordinary house flies can
  • Fruit flies can be found in any room in the house where they can source nourishment so any room where you may have food – lounge or dining room  – and even the bathroom