Margo dealt with fruit flies in her kitchen and took it upon herself to find a solution for fruit flies once and for all.
How to Keep Fruit Flies out of Your House
Fruit flies are those tiny insects that travel in swarms and hover around fruit. You may have seen them in grocery stores, and I have certainly seen them in Whole Foods and some of the other high-end markets. Merriam-Webster defines fruit flies as:
". . . any of various small dipteran flies (as a drosophila) whose larvae feed on fruit or decaying vegetable matter."
That pretty much says it. Fruit flies feed on and lay their eggs in fruit. They are sometimes called gnats, but they are only cousins to gnats (who are equally annoying). Both species are dipteran flies, both are tiny and annoying, but it is the fruit fly that you will find in your kitchen. If it can happen to Whole Foods, it can happen to you. This article will educate you as to what fruit flies are and most importantly, how you can get rid of them in a way that won't poison your family.
How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies
- Take everything apart and clean every surface with soap and water.
- Remove everything from your countertops (my fruit flies were breeding under my fruit display). Don't bother doing anything else until you have done this step.
- Put every dishcloth and towel in the washer. Never leave a wet dishcloth laying around.
- Wipe the moisture from your sink, at least until the infestation is gone.
- Remember: As tiny as fruit flies are, the eggs are even tinier! Get rid of them!
I Had Fruit Flies in My Kitchen
Many years ago, I lived in a tenement apartment in northern New Jersey. My refrigerator broke, and the landlord bought a new one, but I didn't remove the old one. I cleaned out the old one, shut the door, and tried to ignore it until the day it would disappear.
A couple of weeks later (I had a really bad landlord), I noticed little black things flying around the living room. I swatted at them and forgot about them, until there were more. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out where they were coming from. Then one day, I noticed that there were a few around the old fridge, so I opened the door. I am not going to horrify you with what I found in there, but the mystery was solved. Hint:
- You cannot ever, no matter what you do or use, truly clean everything out of an old refrigerator.
- Closing the door of an abandoned refrigerator will create an atmosphere that is even more conducive to fruit fly breeding. It's better to leave the door open.
I use vinegar in my carpet shampoo so that our elderly dogs can't smell themselves and think the carpet is the place to go potty. So naturally, when I went to ruthlessly clean every spot on the counter, I was going to use vinegar to make it extra clean. I didn't, thank goodness. I later learned that vinegar is often used in fruit fly traps to attract them! I would have actually increased the population! After I cleaned, the fruit flies were gone—for a day. Looks like I had more to learn.
How to Build Fruit Fly Traps
You can buy traps, but frankly, they are easy to make. Here's how:
Method #1: Fruit Fly Trap Using Jar and Funnel
- Get a jar and a funnel (metal or make one from paper).
- Put your bait on the bottom.
- Put the funnel on top and watch the flies gather for their last party.
Method #2: Fruit Fly Trap Using Plastic Soda Bottle
- Get a 2-liter plastic soda bottle.
- Cut the top off about 2/3rds of the way up.
- Put the bait in.
- Take the top of the bottle sans bottle cap, and put it upside down in the bottom of the bottle to create a funnel.
How to Make Fruit Fly Bait
This recipe is genius because it has the attraction factor and a poison so you don't have to wait for the flies to die or decide what to do with them after they are trapped. Here's how to make fruit fly bait:
- In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and 1/2 of a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid.
- Mix gently to avoid creating lots of bubbles.
- Set the bowl in a fly-prone area, and watch them die!
The Pros and Cons of Fruit Fly Traps
My research has found both pros and cons to fruit fly traps. The biggest pro is that the traps work. The biggest con is that fruit fly traps can also become a breeding ground. While removing the feeding source will have the adults dropping like flies, the eggs are tougher. They will last long enough to hatch and fly the next day.
To make traps more effective, remove the bait each day. Put it in the garbage disposal, and if it's liquid, pour it down the sink (with some bleach). Just don't think that you can use the same bait for the whole duration of the project. Fruit flies have a lifespan of 10 days—that is a long time.
Fruit Fly Trap Assembly
Do Fruit Flies Carry Diseases or Bite?
My research says, "no." You may feel like fruit flies bite, but that is probably a psychological reaction that is common when one is in contact with or even thinks about swarms of insects.
As for diseases, fruit flies have actually been called the foe of disease, and many are used in emerging medical research. According to Alexander Maye from the University of Hamburg, fruit flies exhibit spontaneity. These insects, although annoying, maybe less pesty than we think. No, the ones you trap will not be used for science, but the species is human-friendly!
What Do You Do With Trapped Fruit Flies?
What do you do with fruit flies after you get rid of their breeding ground and trap them? Some people actually advocate for taking them outdoors and letting them go! I thought that was nuts, even when I knew that the flies were basically harmless. So, should you let your captives go? Share your opinion.
Studying the Fruit Fly
What Do You Do With Pests?
anonymous on August 29, 2013:
a great way to quickly get rid of them is to take out your vacuum hose and suck them up....very efficient!
poppy mercer from London on July 09, 2013:
I'm glad you looked at both sides of things here. People are very quick to kill without thinking.
Titia Geertman from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands on December 26, 2012:
I do very little with pests. Spiders are useful, they catch most flies and those little flies don't bother me, when I see them I know it's time to clean out the kitchen.
anonymous on September 07, 2012:
I have been plagued with these horrid little flies for months, nothing I do gets rid of them, not vinegar, not anything in a trap, not a Venus flytrap plant, they buzz around when I am preparing a meal, when I am eating and when I am doing dishes. I bought some old fashioned flypaper and hung it near my sink and caught a ton of them the first day. Next day, new flypaper...nothing. They are the bane of my existence. I am at my wits end. I've never had fruit flies before, ever.
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on June 10, 2012:
I have a tendency to smack annoying little insects. If they are larger than I hand the job over to my husband. He's my hero when it comes to protecting me from spiders and annoying house flies.
mistyblue75605 lm on April 12, 2012:
mistyblue75605 lm on April 12, 2012:
nice info thanks for sharing!
Auntiekatkat on March 24, 2012:
Try to remove them without killing them. Too many years of living with Jains who wear a mask all the time so they do not kill insects
infiniti99 lm on March 16, 2012:
Thank you the situation will be resolved I've made my trap and I'm heading out for the day.
Rob Hemphill from Ireland on February 27, 2012:
I really enjoyed this lens. Takes me back to my winemaking days, where these pesky little things were attracted to the carbon dioxide of the fermenting wine. If they ever got past the airlock, you could end up with vinegar!
anonymous on February 04, 2012:
DeannaDiaz on January 30, 2012:
Ugh...I hate fruit flies! Like your lens, on the other hand!
anonymous on January 13, 2012:
Returning with a bit of angel dust...it just may help control those pesky fruit flies!
anonymous on January 13, 2012:
Returning with a bit of angel dust...it just may help control those pesky fruit flies!
Ram Ramakrishnan on December 29, 2011:
The mention of fruit fly immediately brings to mind my biology lessons of long ago about they being the preferred organism for researches in genetics and developmental biology. Learnt more about their way of life in this interesting lens.
anonymous on September 29, 2011:
great lens! I liked it and your poll questions! If you like browsing as I do, mine has a great educational topic with poll questions for my readers to enjoy.
Winter52 LM on September 24, 2011:
I learned a ton about these little guys and I'm one of those who trapped them every day and then turned them loose lol!
squidoolover76 on September 14, 2011:
A very wonderful lens about fruit flies,thanks
Adinantiquejewe on August 30, 2011:
Very informative and well written lens. Thanks for sharing the knowledge.
RhondaSueDavis on August 26, 2011:
We get these in the warmer months from the bananas we bring home. Very helpful lens, I find bugs fascinating, but don't like to share the kitchen with them. Many illnesses can be caused by flies getting onto food and water sitting out. May I feature your lens on my home environomics and home ergonomics lenses? This would add well to them.
pawpaw911 on August 26, 2011:
Can't stand the little B%&*ards, but they are interesting creatures. I know they are used to feed poison dart frogs in captivity. Nice lens.
sousababy on August 26, 2011:
Very well done . . good to see a purple star on this one. (I admit, when a fruit fly gets in my wine, I pour it down the sink).
Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on August 19, 2011:
Love "Fruit Flies Are Social Animals." You have put a lot of research into this lens and I "liked" it.
CCGAL on August 04, 2011:
I've never found fruitflies to be much of a bother, to be honest. On the rare occasion I get some, it's always because I've left fruit or veg on the counter a little too long, but removing the offending no-longer-edible item and wiping the counter down has always been sufficient to remove them from my kitchen.
I once had the opportunity to contribute some back yard fallen rotting apples to a researcher who drove from the University of California at Davis all the way up to Crescent City, CA. I worked at the Cooperative Extension there and the researcher needed some fruit flies from that area. I don't know what the research was, but he was kind enough to teach me a lot about fruit flies and how they are so beneficial for researchers because of their short life cycle.
I enjoyed this lens a lot, by the way. Nice job!
Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on August 01, 2011:
Useful page. I can see why it is so popular. Next time I discover I've brought some of the buggers home, you can bet I'll be back for your cleaning recipes, though I've never had to resort to killing them in the past, luckily.
anonymous on July 29, 2011:
Very Informative lens, great job! I hate those pesky fruit flies...
jessicahoward on July 25, 2011:
Lisa from Rhode Island on June 25, 2011:
My husband has these at has job everyone leaving stuff in there desks I swear he brings them home with him not they until he gets home lol great lens
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 25, 2011:
When I have lots of fruits, they often come but they just stay around the fruits. When the fruits are gone, they are gone as well. They can be annoying when there are lots of them. Thanks for the vinegar tip.
whirlwind on June 11, 2011:
Hello Margo_Arrowsmith. I like your lens "What You Must Know About Fruit Flies..." Very informative; Thank you especially for sharing the information about vinegar attracting the flies.
Blackspaniel1 on June 02, 2011:
efriedman on May 28, 2011:
Interesting. I'm glad you called attention to their role in scientific research in genetics.
dellgirl on May 28, 2011:
Very helpful and so good to know, thanks for making this lens and sharing this information. I usually get the little pests when we overdo it on fruit buying.
mattseefood lm on April 28, 2011:
We always had a lot of flies in here :( Great lens!
anonymous on April 18, 2011:
This is a very interesting lens! Informative, too. I'm not visited by fruit flies unless I happen to have overly ripe bananas on the counter, so they're not a huge problem. For larger pests--mice, for example, I just have to really hope they don't find their way in, since I can't. bear to kill them. I've used live traps, but then what? Luckily, with two dogs and a cat in residence, none have ventured into the house I moved into two years ago-- and I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
bjslapidary on April 13, 2011:
Very interesting lens. Fruit flies are so annoying. Thanks for the info.
Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on March 17, 2011:
Just stopping by again to bless this lens. Happy St. Patrick's Day.
VarietyWriter2 on March 17, 2011:
Blessed by a SquidAngel :)
ChrisDay LM on March 16, 2011:
Chemicals are NOT the answer, IMO.
ChrisDay LM on March 16, 2011:
If something is becoming a real pest, it MAY be because we are providing too good a habitat for it. We need to study each 'pest' to learn how not to encourage it.
hsschulte on March 07, 2011:
I love fresh fruit. In the summer, I breed fruit flies, but not intentionally. Thanks for the tips!
anonymous on February 19, 2011:
Enjoyable and informative! I've created my own traps with those soft plastic bags in the fresh foods and meat sections of the grocery store. I put bait in side and then put twists in the bag so they would find their way in but not out. You are right about creating a breeding ground. I like your vinegar and dish soap idea. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
anonymous on February 17, 2011:
Pests and insects are part and parcels of life, how nice this world would be without them.
7Suze7 on February 17, 2011:
Beautiful pictures, really
Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on February 17, 2011:
I enjoyed this lens, packed full of interesting and helpful information!
ideadesigns on February 15, 2011:
This is a very helpful lens. I used a jar of apple cider vinegar and would shut the lid on them when I'd come by. This would help to get them into the liquid. Something about it they like. You have great ideas here and so much great information. :)
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on February 13, 2011:
Wonderful information, as I'm sometimes bothered by these pesky little critters when I have fruit out of the refrigerator.
Blessed and featured in the Best Insect Webpages on Squidoo.
justholidays on February 12, 2011:
Never seen such flies but pests in general are a real problem when one lives in the countryside... What do I do? Well, I try to keep the house as clean as possible and all windows have a mosquito net; that's all I can do, particularly sinceI don't wish to poison myself and my family with chemicals, lol.
photofk3 on February 11, 2011:
I learn something new every day. I didn't know that fruit flies are a foe of disease. Thanks you for sharing this.
anonymous on January 17, 2011:
If I ever have fruit flies, I'm coming here for help! A very informative and interestng lens, nicely done.
dannystaple on January 15, 2011:
I've not really had a problem with fruit flies, but I battled with other pests when I had an infestation around indoor grown tomatoes, and I know how tough the little monsters can be. Just when you think you've got rid of a generation and cool off, the next one can come - unless you keep with the pest control for a full 10 days, or (as I did), introduce something that kills the eggs. Anyway - I am going to add this on my Organic Food Plant Pest and Parasite Control lens.
wilddove6 on January 12, 2011:
What fun! And I learned something too!
That's always a bonus!
Fox Music on January 04, 2011:
EliminateFruitFlies on December 29, 2010:
Great lens, very thorough research :) it's true that you can't use the same trap to catch fruit flies all week or they'll just keep breeding. I made that mistake once *lol*
John Norman Stewart from Cottonwood, CA on December 23, 2010:
I've always been curious about these little guys.....we seem to get lots of them, once a year. Great lens! :)
insolvelipe on December 20, 2010:
I enjoyed this Squidoo Lens very much, the photos help support the content of the lens.
livingfrontiers on December 20, 2010:
pests can be handled in humane and effective ways by doing research. Your research here is most helpful! angel blessings!
Patricia on December 17, 2010:
Thanks for visiting my new lenses. It has been a while since I made new ones and now I am on a roll. This is an excellent lens. I hope I never have a problem with fruit flies!
Thomas F. Wuthrich from Michigan on December 13, 2010:
Over the years, I've occasionally found a fruit fly...maybe two or three...hovering over the fruit bowl. Aside from polishing off the fruit and putting anything that remained down the disposal, I can't recall anything special that I did to get rid of them, except perhaps whacking them with the palms of my hands. They didn't seem to hang around after the object of their attraction disappeared. Thumbs up on this interesting lens.
Teri Villars from Phoenix, Arizona on December 13, 2010:
This will be useful info coming up!! I have a friend who was in pest control and he obtained a contract after another was fired because he couldn't get rid of these things in a medical building. Turns out, they just cycle and my friend was hired at the end of the cycle and they started dying out. He got a huge contract from this and this goes to show you that all pests are not bad! ha!
tssfacts on December 11, 2010:
I found when I started juicing (veggies and fruits) they came out of nowhere. I had read to use a vinegar solution would take care of the flying one. It did over several days. Of course a general clean up was needed too. I find that garbage disposal are a good breeding ground also. So be sure to clean that too.
hotbrain from Tacoma, WA on December 09, 2010:
This is an excellent lens on a common problem! Angel blessed :)
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on December 07, 2010:
Gives me a chill just thinking about this little guys. They can really get annoying toward the end of the summer. Very ingeniously displayed :)
Asinka Fields from Los Angeles, CA on December 07, 2010:
You write so well :). I had no idea about dealing with fruit flies except for killing them with a fly swatter. But now I have so many ideas from you.
Thanks for visiting my lens, liking it and leaving a note. Really appreciate it, joined your fan club :).
irenemaria from Sweden on December 02, 2010:
vinegar, dishwash liquid and some sweet juice - they drown
darciefrench lm on December 01, 2010:
Admire them, for the most part. I don't like house flies- but spiders are good for keeping those under control too. We don't have any poisonous spiders in the area so they make handy helpers with the peskier fellows.
sousababy on November 30, 2010:
Oh, I don't really like any insects in the house. Thanks for all the helpful tips...I'll try to do a better job at prevention.
Jeanette from Australia on November 28, 2010:
I'm not really fond of them in the garden either! Thanks for the tips.
John Norman Stewart from Cottonwood, CA on November 27, 2010:
We had an infestation about a year ago and the culprit was a partially eaten nectarine that was in a zip lock bag that wasn't sealed all the way. Great lens.
anonymous on November 26, 2010:
This was a very informative lens, I learned a lot here, especially the part where I am actually creating a breeding ground with my homemade remedies to eliminate them, geesh!
Elizabeth Sheppard from Bowling Green, Kentucky on November 21, 2010:
I try to catch pests and then let them go whenever possible. Some flypaper sometimes helps me too. I have learned a lot about fruit flies here! Thanks.
Eliza Rayner from Boulder, Colorado on November 18, 2010:
We use fruit flies in my biology class, first at the start of the year for a scientific method investigation and then for genetics. They are super easy to breed and interesting to look at under the dissecting scope. its not too much fun when they escape and fly around the classroom though! They are not much of a problem here, generally, I think the colder winters and lack of humidity keeps their numbers way down, we never have them in the kitchen or anything at home. Thanks for the great lens.
hlkljgk from Western Mass on November 16, 2010:
i was recently searching info about how fruit flies appear in you home in the first place. great lens.
Jack on November 16, 2010:
Very interesting and informative. Blessed by a Squid Angel.
Canela Ajena from Houston on November 12, 2010:
opps just realized the comment I wrote above was meant to go here. so sorry about that
Violin-Student on November 09, 2010:
I never thought I'd see a lens about fruit flies. Very informative. Thanks for the information!
Brookelorren LM on November 06, 2010:
Now if you could only do a lens like this on weevils... good job!
CelebStyle LM on November 06, 2010:
Johann The Dog from Northeast Georgia on November 06, 2010:
Very interesting!!! So glad to know they don't carry disease!
editionh on November 04, 2010:
Wow, that is clear text on fruit flies..great content!
Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on November 02, 2010:
I haven't ever had an infestation that didn't disappear when I removed the offending fruit. But I also allow a few Daddy-longlegs spiders to live near my kitchen ceilings over places that attract small flies. The ones I have the most trouble with are those attracted to light that swarm in if we come in a door at night.
Sue Mah from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on October 30, 2010:
Your experience with the fruit flies made me shudder. I had a bad experience with maggots when my fridge was shut down for a week so I can imagine how gross it was, ugh!!!
anonymous on October 28, 2010:
So much information! Thank you.
rachsue lm on October 27, 2010:
WOw, I had no idea. What an interesting lens. We all have had our issues with fruit flies and I never did understand where they came from or why they even came out to play. Thank you for all the information!! Great Lens
Faye Rutledge from Concord VA on October 18, 2010:
Thanks for this great information. When I worked at Kroger in the Deli/Bakery we had an awful problem with fruit flies getting in the danish case. I guess they liked the fruit filled danish. We used vinigar in a bowl, but not a trap, which probably made matters worse. I like the trap idea.
Sheilamarie from British Columbia on October 13, 2010:
Lots of info. Thanks!
myneverboredhands on September 20, 2010:
Very interesting info you've collected here in your lens, thanks. Thumbs up.
Tarra99 on September 12, 2010:
I have one of these pesky little critters in my kitchen now...and I can't seem to catch him...I HATE fruit flies...
anonymous on September 10, 2010:
Oh those fruit flies can be such pests. I hate it when they fly up my nose. Would love to kill them all, but I know they have their purpose too. Good info!
norma-holt on August 04, 2010:
Did not realise that this is a LOTD. Congrats and it is now also featured on Lenses That Shine.
norma-holt on August 04, 2010:
This is a great informative lens. Thank you. *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust and also on Save Planet Earth
anonymous on July 27, 2010:
Thanks for all that helpful info.
It was very interesting to learn about fruit flies.!!!!!
anonymous on July 17, 2010:
Great lens thanks for the help
Andy-Po on June 28, 2010:
Very interesting lens. I don't think we have such a problem with Fruit Flies here in the U.K. (probably different varieties live here)
MartinPrestovic on June 13, 2010:
Very informative lens! I don't like flies or anything small and annoying flying around my kitchen and bothering me when I am cooking. I am a bit of an OC when it comes to cleanliness inside the house so thank God, no place for flies to breed.
Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on September 03, 2009:
I can just visualize your opening that refrigerator door. Yuk. We usually just sit out a glass of water with vinegar and they are drawn to it but your funnel directions sure sound interesting. Great lens.
Treasures By Brenda from Canada on August 28, 2009:
Excellent lens; blessed! We have had fruit flies occasionally when fruit has been overripe. Fortunately, we've never had any problem getting rid of them.
unsinkablewoman on October 17, 2008:
Very Good Information, 5*
I Don't Buy A Lot of Fruit But When I Do It's In The Fridge We Like It Cold So Not Much Of A Problem, Also Only Buy Small Amounts So It Will Be Eaten In Short Amount Time
OldGrampa on October 07, 2008:
Nice lens, we are having some trouble here with those annoying fruit flies. Theres a drosophila in my soup!
julieannbrady on October 06, 2008:
Margo -- I believe that you are RIGHT that they spontaneously come to life from nothing! We've got a few in our kitchen since hubby was away and left his bananas to ripen. ;)