How to eliminate fruit flies with these 4 hacks

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Fruit flies are those pesky little buzzers that seem to materialize out of thin air, drawn to your ripening bananas and forgotten wineglasses like moths to a flame. They might be small, but their persistent presence is frustrating to anyone with a kitchen. Don’t panic: learn how to get rid of fruit flies quickly and easily.

A tomato that has been cut in half.
Photo credit: YayImages.

Where do fruit flies come from?

Fruit flies seem to appear out of nowhere. One day, you have none, and the next day, they are flying everywhere. They are attracted to ripe or fermented fruits and vegetables, as well as sugary substances like juice, soda and alcohol.

They lay their eggs on the surface of these foods, and within days, the eggs hatch into larvae, starting the cycle all over again. Fruit flies can also be brought into your home from the grocery store on infested produce, making it important to inspect and wash fruits and vegetables before bringing them indoors.

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How to keep fruit flies from invading

Prevention is key. If you can keep these pesky critters out of your house, you don’t need to worry about figuring out how to get rid of fruit flies. There are several ways to help minimize the chance of an infestation.

Be sure to store your produce properly. Refrigerate ripe fruits and vegetables. Cover leftover fruits or place them in sealed containers. If you have any overripe or rotting produce, toss it immediately.

On a related note, empty your garbage regularly, especially if it contains food scraps. This is a location people often forget about until it’s too late.

Clean up any spills promptly. Don’t give fruit flies a breeding ground. Wipe up sugary spills, including wine and crumbs, immediately.

Compost outdoors. If you compost, keep it sealed and away from your living areas. There are great indoor composting starters, but if you use them, be sure to keep them sealed and empty them to your main compost area frequently.

Fix any leaky drains and pipes. This is a cause of fruit flies that most people don’t realize and is often an issue in apartment buildings especially. Standing water attracts them, so seal any leaks promptly.

How to get rid of fruit flies

If prevention fails and you find yourself dealing with a fruit fly infestation, there are several methods you can try to eliminate them. One popular method is creating a homemade fruit fly trap, and another option is using a commercially available fruit fly trap, which utilizes a mechanism to attract and capture the insects.

Use an apple cider vinegar trap

To create an apple cider vinegar trap, simply pour a small amount of apple cider vinegar into a bowl or jar, then add a few drops of dish soap and mix gently. Cover the bowl or jar with plastic wrap and secure it with a rubber band, then poke several small holes in the plastic wrap.

Place the trap near areas where fruit flies are present, such as near the fruit bowl or kitchen sink. The fruit flies will be attracted to the scent of the vinegar and will crawl through the holes in the plastic wrap to get to it. Once inside, they cannot escape and will eventually drown in the liquid.

A jar of honey with ants in it.
Fruit fly trap. Photo credit: YayImages.

Create a DIY fruit fly hotel

A perennial favorite trick for how to get rid of fruit flies is to create a fruit fly hotel. You can use a soda bottle or a mason jar for the base. If you use a bottle, cut the top off, then invert the top and secure it in the bottom section, creating a funnel.

If you use a mason jar, you can use a kitchen funnel or wrap a small piece of paper into a funnel shape and tape it to hold it in place. Either method works, though the smell of paper often works better than the scent of plastic.

Regardless of your hotel vessel, fill the bottom with something they are attracted to, like a couple of inches of wine or a piece or two of overripe fruit. Vinegar works equally well.

A mason jar with a piece of paper in it.
Fruit fly hotel. Photo credit: Honest and Truly.

Set the hotel near your main source of fruit flies, and be sure that it won’t get jostled. The flies will enter the trap but struggle to escape. A few may escape, but the vast majority cannot, and they will eventually all enter the hotel.

You can leave them in the hotel or carefully carry the hotel outside and away from your home to open it and allow them to escape before you capture a new batch. You will likely need to replace the liquid in the bottom after a few days if you still have fruit flies to ensure the scent remains attractive to them.

“We use a bottle, a funnel and vinegar to trap fruit flies. We put the vinegar in the bottle and put the funnel in the bottle opening. The fruit flies fly down into the bottle and get trapped.”

— Laura Sampson, Little Frugal Homestead

Buy commercial fruit fly traps

Commercial fruit fly traps are available at most hardware stores and even supermarkets. They come in various forms, including sticky traps and bait traps. Sticky traps tend to be the most popular, though both methods are effective.

Simply follow the instructions on the packaging to set up the trap in areas where you notice fruit flies. These traps are typically effective at capturing and killing fruit flies without the need for any additional steps.

Purchase a fruit fly zapper

Invest in an electric fruit fly zapper that attracts and zaps them on contact. This method is quick and effective but can be noisy and is more costly than DIY solutions.

Can I eat food if I have a fruit fly infestation?

Dealing with a fruit fly infestation can be frustrating, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to throw out all of your food. It’s best to discard any fruits or vegetables that have been infested with fruit fly eggs or larvae.

Most foods are safe to eat as long as they have not come into contact with the insects. However, inspecting food carefully before consuming it and thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables to remove any potential contaminants is always a good idea.

Final thoughts

While fruit flies can be a nuisance, they are relatively easy to prevent and eliminate with the right strategies. By keeping your kitchen clean, storing produce properly and using traps to capture any stray fruit flies, you can keep your home free from these pesky insects.

And if you do find yourself dealing with a fruit fly infestation, remember that you now know how to get rid of fruit flies with these simple and effective methods. With a little patience and persistence, you can banish fruit flies from your home and enjoy your food in peace.

Michelle Price is a food and travel writer at Honest and Truly who almost has an empty nest. She loves to provide both the inspiration and the confidence you need to help get you into the kitchen and on the road to enjoy new flavors and experiences.

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