Fruit flies are notoriously difficult to get rid of. It seems if you spot one hovering around your kitchen, the next day there’s dozens or more. That’s because fruit flies can actually lay up to 500 eggs, which hatch in as little as 24 hours.
So, if you notice a fruit fly, it’s essential that you act quickly. Fortunately, we’ve pulled together some steps you can take to banish the fruit flies once and for all.
Where do fruit flies come from?
You may be asking yourself, where have these fruit flies come from? Fruit flies are tiny, brown flies with red eyes that are attracted to rotting and fermenting fruit and food debris. So the first and most obvious culprit is the fruit bowl. Fruit flies can also breed in your drains, the trash or mop buckets. These pesky flies can even arrive on fresh fruit and produce, so you can get them no matter how clean your home is!
On top of being very annoying, fruit flies are not hygienic to have buzzing around either. They can contaminate any open food with bacteria and pathogens and will often lay their eggs inside rotten fruit. For this reason alone, you need to control the problem before it becomes an infestation.
How to get rid of fruit flies
Before you trap the flies, you need to clean the area thoroughly to stop them from continually breeding. To do this, wipe down all of the surfaces and remove any rotting food debris. This includes any in the sink, food disposal and taking out the trash as well. It’s also a good idea to vacuum to get rid of any crumbs on the floor. It goes without saying that you need to throw away anything from the fruit bowl which is starting to ferment.
Method 1. Apple cider vinegar trap: This is the most traditional method for getting rid of fruit flies. Simply fill a small bowl with about a cup of apple cider vinegar. Then, cover it with plastic wrap and seal it using an elastic band. Following this, poke small holes in the top — you can do this using a toothpick. Now, you just leave it out to attract the flies! The smell of apple cider vinegar is irresistible to fruit flies and the idea is once they’re in, they can’t get out.
Method 2. Dishwasher detergent trap: If you don’t have plastic wrap to hand, you can instead add a splash of dishwasher detergent to an open bowl of cider vinegar. The flies are once again attracted to the smell, but the dishwasher detergent decreases the surface tension, so once they land, they sink and drown.
Method 3. Rotting fruit trap: If rotting fruit is what brought them in, it can get them out as well! Set a trap in a jar by combining some fermenting fruit with a small amount of apple cider vinegar. Then, create a cone from paper and place the tapered end into the jar. The fruit will attract the flies and the cone will stop them from escaping.
Method 4. Bottles of old beer or wine: Fruit flies love the smell of fermenting beer and wine, so if you have a couple of near-empty bottles to hand, you can use these to your advantage. The smell lures them in, and thanks to the bottle neck, they can’t escape!
Method 5. Fruit fly trap: If you don’t want to use a DIY method, you can always invest in a chemical alternative such as Terro’s Fruit Fly Trap ($5.88 at Amazon) (opens in new tab). This will have the same effect as the above methods.
If you're dealing with lots of fruit flies, you may want to set more than one of the above traps for best results!
If none of these methods work, you may not have fruit flies. Similar looking pests include fungus gnats and drain flies. Fungus gnats look more like mosquitos and can be found around plants, while drain flies usually hang around your drains or anywhere with stagnant water.
Tips to prevent fruit flies from coming back
- Immediately throw away any old or fermenting food.
- Rinse any new fruit as it arrives. This stops any eggs arriving on the back of fresh fruit.
- Store your fruit in the fridge. This stops fruit flies from getting to it as easily.
- Keep your home clean. Fruit flies thrive in a dirty environment and can even breed on crumbs, so keeping your home clean will help prevent them from returning in the future.
Dealt with the flies? Then here's how to get rid of wasps, how to get rid of moths and how to get rid of ants safely with household products. And check out our guide on how to get rid of fleas.