7 Tips to Eliminate Fruit Flies

Fruit flies are a very common pest in the garden or kitchen that are attracted by ripe fruits or leftover food. Discover the best at-home methods to get rid of this common problem here.
7 Tips to Eliminate Fruit Flies
Leonardo Biolatto

Reviewed and approved by the doctor Leonardo Biolatto.

Written by Jonatan Menguez

Last update: 30 November, 2022

It’s often common to forget a piece of halved fruit in the refrigerator or on the counter. If this happens and it’s not cleaned in a few days, fruit flies can get in.

These are small insects that fly over spaces where there’s decaying, putrefying, or fermenting organic matter. However, they’re not just a nuisance. It’s also possible that they contaminate your food since they carry germs.

To prevent their appearance, strict hygiene must be maintained, especially in areas where food waste accumulates. However, once fruit flies have apepared, there are also different ways to repel them.

Why do fruit flies appear?

This type of fly looks for decaying food to lay its eggs and feed, especially fruits and vegetables with high fructose content. For example, bananas, grapes, melons, and pumpkins are some of their favorites.

Fruit flies can show up very quickly, since female fruit flies are capable of laying about 500 eggs at a time.

These eggs hatch within 24 hours and they reach adulthood only one day later, so they are able to reproduce again. Thus, if this annoying pest is not treated right away, it’s very difficult for it to disappear.

They also tend to appear in poorly sanitized spaces where food debris accumulates. This includes sinks, dirty dishes, or garbage cans.

Although they can appear throughout the year, their favorite season is summer and early fall. They prefer warm, moist environments.

Health risks

Fruit flies don’t pose a high health risk, but they are responsible for carrying germs. As they pass through different foods and surfaces in the home, they may deposit microorganisms that, if ingested, can transmit digestive diseases. Some of these diseases are very serious, such as salmonella.

For this reason, it’s important to disinfect the areas where they have appeared, sanitize fruits and vegetables, and, of course, discard any infected ones.

Fruit flies are often confused with other similar pests, such as fungus gnats or plant gnats. They can be identified by their dark to light brown color and reddish eyes.

The best ways to get rid of fruit flies

There are several ways to deal with this pest, some of them may contain toxic and chemical substances, so it’s important that they’re out of the reach of children. In addition, the use of gloves and immediate hand sanitization is recommended.

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1. Vinegar traps

This is a highly recommended method to treat fruit flies. This is because apple cider vinegar is one of their biggest enemies.

To use this remedy, mix some in a glass, with a few drops of dish soap or detergent, and place it near where the insects are. They will be attracted to the smell of the vinegar and will be trapped by the soap.

Another alternative to this homemade trap is to take a container and pour some apple cider vinegar inside. Then, place plastic wrap or cling film on top, tighten it and make some small holes.

They should be made with a toothpick or fork so that they’re very tiny. The insects will therefore be able to get in, but not out. If the infestation is large, several of these jars can be placed in different places around the space.

fruit flies and apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a natural remedy for this pest.

2. Alcohol traps

Fruit flies are attracted to alcohol, so it’s possible to use a bottle of beer or wine as a trap. Leaving it open and with a little liquid where the pest is located is ideal.

Optionally, you can also add a few drops of detergent. The thin neck of the container works as a trap and makes it difficult for the insects to get out.

In addition, the same fruits or vegetables that caused the pest can be used to fight it. Before discarding or disinfecting them, place some pieces in a glass, along with a few drops of wine or vinegar.

Then, form a cone with a piece of paper and place it on top. It should have a large opening at the top and a tiny one at the other end. This way, flies get in, but cannot escape.

3. Yeast

In a container with a little water, place a packet of active yeast and a tablespoon of sugar to attract the insects. Once they stick to the mixture, discard it and, if necessary, reassemble it.

4. Bleach

If the problem was generated in the drain, it is possible to use bleach to eliminate some flies. Just pour a little bleach that’s been diluted in water according to the manufacturer’s instructions down the drain.

This method is not the best, as it may kill some adult flies, but not all larvae or eggs. There are specific commercial products for disinfecting pipes.

5. Sticky traps for fruit flies

If none of these homemade tips worked, it is possible to purchase elaborate sticky traps for insects. They work for several species, including fruit flies.

They’re available at stores such as hardware stores and are placed in infested areas. Once they’re filled, they should be replaced and new ones placed.

It’s important to accompany the process with immediate sanitization of the space.

6. Commercial products

These sprays should only be used as a last resort, as many have side effects and are not recommended for the environment. Check product directions and use with caution in infested areas.

Some insects may be eliminated this way, but they do not take care of the forming larvae either. So the pest is not completely eliminated this way.

7. Treating your garden

This is not just a problem in the kitchen. If you have a garden or orchard, fruit flies can also attack a large part of the harvest.

To combat them, use the aforementioned home methods, but place the containers near the affected areas. If possible, do this under the shade.

When getting rid of fruit flies outdoors, it’s important to pay attention to rainfall and water entering the containers. It’s also possible to repel them with a piece of open onion. Its strong smell works well as a repellent.

fruit flies like onions
The smell of onion works well as a repellent for flies.

How to prevent the appearance of fruit flies

As with many things, it’s easier to prevent the generation of this pest than to eliminate it. For this reason, it’s essential to adopt certain regular hygienic measures in the kitchen, in the garden, and in spaces where food waste accumulates.

  • Sinks and countertops: This is a very common area where this pest is generated. Avoid leaving fruits bitten or cut in half. Also, avoid leaving perishable foods or dirty dishes for many days. Remove food leftovers from the sink regularly.
  • Garbage cans: It’s important that they have a tight-fitting lid so that no space is left open. Clean them frequently and change the bag before too much rotting food accumulates.
  • Recycling: Don’t forget recycling bins. Cans, bottles, and jars should be washed or soaked before throwing them away.
  • Drawers: Check and clean them from time to time, along with other kitchen furniture. Also, take care of complicated-to-reach areas, such as behind and under the refrigerator and other appliances, where food tends to fall and accumulate.
  • Store fruit properly: If you prefer to have fruits or vegetables on display, it’s advisable to cover them and keep them in cool places. This is especially the case for those with a lot of sugar, since they ripen faster.
  • Pay attention when shopping: If you notice flies in the store, avoid choosing products that are close by. When you get home, clean fruits and vegetables well, as they can bring larvae and eggs that hatch at home.
  • Liquids: When liquids are spilled, especially juices and alcohol, the area should be cleaned and disinfected immediately. In orchards or gardens, remove fallen fruit before it rots on the ground and remove ripe fruit from the trees right away.

Like this article? You may also like to read: Why it’s Important to Eat Fruit and Vegetables According to WHO

Be patient

Although this is an annoying and unhealthy pest, it’s not likely to tolerate cold temperatures. So, if the fruit flies are too hard to get rid of, they may die off on their own by the time winter arrives. In addition, the lifespan of these insects is only about two weeks.

In any case, it’s important to take care of the problem. Additionally and preventively, you can install mosquito nets on your windows and turn off the lights at night, as light attracts them. You can also place a candle, when other areas are dark, along with water and detergent. When they approach, the fire burns their wings and the soap drowns them.

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The contents of this publication are for informational purposes only. At no time can they serve to facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult with your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.