We eat a lot of fresh fruit in our house during the summer, but unfortunately, we’re not the only ones who seem to enjoy it! Fruit flies are equally as passionate about ripe summer produce, and they seem to appear out of thin air whenever there’s fruit in the kitchen.
And fruit flies aren’t just an annoyance or a hassle to deal with—they can also contaminate food with bacteria and other harmful organisms. And if you don’t take care of them quickly, those fruit flies are likely to multiply, finding their way into drains, garbage disposals, trash cans, recycling bins, mops, and even cleaning rags. For something so tiny, they sure can be a pain in the neck!
So if you’re like me and can’t stand seeing hordes of fruit flies hovering around your fruit bowl, I’m here to help! In this post, we’ll go over everything you need about how to get rid of fruit flies, including how to make several cheap and easy traps.
But before we get to that, it’s important to start by making an important distinction. As easy as it is to mistake fruit flies for gnats (and vice versa), you need to know which one you’re dealing with in order to get rid of them!
Do I Have Fruit Flies Or Gnats?
While fruit flies and gnats are both tiny flying pests, there are a few key differences you can look for to tell them apart. The first is coloring, as fruit flies range in color from light tan to brown, while gnats are usually gray or black.
The second difference is where they prefer to hang out. Fruit flies, as their name implies, have a taste for overly ripe fruit and other sugary substances. Fungus gnats, on the other hand, are usually spotted around soil and on plants.
These identifiers should help you determine which pest you’re dealing with so you can address the problem with the most appropriate solution. If you confirm that you’re dealing with fruit flies, the information in the rest of this post will prove very helpful to you!
If you suspect you may be dealing with gnats instead, check out my post on how to get rid of gnats for more information and useful solutions.
Related: How To Get Rid Of Ants
What Causes Fruit Fly Infestations?
When you’re dealing a fruit fly infestation, you might find yourself wondering, “Why me?!” And that’s actually a good question to ask, because understanding the cause can help you avoid the problem in the future!
Fruit flies are attracted to all kinds of fruits and veggies at almost every stage of ripeness. And since these foods tend to get sweeter as they ripen, produce that’s overripe, rotten, or even decaying can send fruit flies into a frenzy.
And speaking of rotting, fruit flies are also attracted to fermented foods and drinks. This includes beer, liquor, wine, and vinegars, as well as foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso, many of which tend to be more common in kitchens during the summertime.
Factor in the relatively short life cycle of fruit flies, and the fact that female fruit flies may lay a whopping 500 eggs at once that hatch in as little as 24 hours, and it starts to make senes how these pests can become a big problem in very little time. But as you’ll learn shortly, it is possible to get rid of fruit flies and keep them out.
How To Kill Fruit Flies: 4 Easy DIY Fruit Fly Traps
1. Homemade Fly Paper
Using a few paper bags and a mixture of sugar, honey, and water, you can make your own sticky fly paper strips that attract fruit flies and prevent them from flying away again. And since they’re so easy to make, you can make fresh ones to replaces the old strips as often as needed until all your fruit flies are gone.
2. Vinegar Trap
To make a vinegar trap, pour an inch or so of apple cider vinegar into a glass or jar. Cover the top of the container with plastic wrap, secure it with a rubber band, then poke a few small holes in the plastic wrap.
Place the container in an area where you’ve seen fruit flies, and they’ll be attracted by the smell of the apple cider vinegar. But once they get in through the holes in the plastic wrap, they won’t be able to find their way back out again and they’ll die.
You can multiply the power of vinegar traps by making several and placing them around your kitchen.
3. Fruit Trap
Notice that the fruit flies are gravitating toward a certain fruit? Use it against them by making a simple fruit trap! Start by putting a splash of vinegar into a glass jar, then adding a chunk of very ripe fruit.
Next, roll a piece of paper into a cone shape and staple or tape it in place. Put the cone into the jar opening and secure it in place with tape, so that the only way into the jar is through the hole at the bottom of the cone.
The smell of the fruit will attract the fruit flies into the jar, but they’ll have a hard time figuring out how to get back out again. Try making multiple fruit traps and placing them around your kitchen.
4. Soap Trap
The last fruit fly trap I wanted to mention is made with soap, which relies on light instead of smell to attract them. To make one, simply fill a bowl with water, mix in a few drops of dish soap, and place the bowl under a light source (such as a lamp, your stove light, etc.)
The fruit flies will be attracted to the light reflecting off the surface of the water, but once they land, the surface tension created by the dish soap will make it difficult for them to escape.
Don’t Want To DIY?
If you don’t want to make your own fruit fly trap, you can buy pre-made traps online like this one. They work according to the same principles I described above, but they’ll save you some time and effort.
Preventing Fruit Fly Infestations
Ultimately, the best way to avoid fruit fly infestations is to prevent them from happening in the first place! Use the following tips and tricks to make your environment less hospitable to hopeful fruit flies:
- Eat fresh fruit when it’s ripe
- Throw out overripe produce or cut out cracked or damaged portions
- Store fruits and veggies in the fridge
- Wash produce as soon as you get home to remove any potential eggs or larvae
- Ensure that all containers are fully sealed (especially if you can fruit, brew beer or cider, or make fermented or pickled foods at home)
- Wash dirty dishes promptly, or, at the very least, rinse them off well
- Cover your trash and take it out regularly
- Clean up spills ASAP, especially if it’s fruit juice or alcohol
- Equip windows and doors with tight-fitting screens to help prevent adult fruit flies from entering from outdoors
- Try a carnivorous plant, like a sundew plant, which will ensnare fruit flies with its sticky leaves and eat them
- Clean out your drains with a splash of apple cider vinegar followed by a pot of boiling water, which will eliminate fruit flies that may be hanging out inside them
- Try essential oils with strong scents, such as basil, lavender, or lemongrass
- Keep kitchen humidity in check with inexpensive and easy-to-use moisture absorbers
A fruit fly infestation can be a major buzzkill in the summertime. But by adopting good habits that can help prevent fruit fly infestations, as well as using fruit fly traps to eliminate them when they do appear, you can keep your home free of these pesky pests!
Do you have any tips or tricks to get rid of fruit flies?