Do you have a fruit flies problem that you want to get rid of? You are not alone! Fruit flies are disturbing little insects that often invade our homes, attracted by ripening fruits and other food products. Once inside, these little pests reproduce at breakneck speed, with a female able to lay up to 500 eggs during her brief life cycle.
Fruit flies can appear at any time, but they are particularly problematic in summer and fall when the weather is hot.
If your kitchen has been overrun, you already know it’s hard to get rid of them. In this article, we’ll show you what to do to get rid of fruit flies as well as some ideas for preventing them from coming back.
Where do fruit flies come from?
Like all flies, fruit flies lay eggs. As their name suggests, they love fruit. Since the flies find it difficult to break through the peel of fresh fruit, they prefer to lay their eggs on rotting fruits. In these fruits, the larvae find plenty of food.
While the adult fruit flies love sweet drinks and fruits, if neither fruits nor fermenting drinks are at hand, they’ll be satisfied with rotten foliage.
Fruit flies find their way into the kitchen either in search of food when they come across an open kitchen window or when they are still lurking as larvae in the freshly purchased fruit and are thus carried into the house from the grocery store or market.
The life cycle of the fruit fly
The female lays her elongated, whitish eggs on fermenting fruit or other moist material. The egg has two short breathing tubes that emerge from the liquid in which it was laid. The female produces 25 to 35 eggs per day. Hatching takes place after one or two days.
The whitish larva has no legs. It moves actively on wet surfaces where it forages. The larva molts twice in five or six days. In the third larval instar, it transforms into a pupa inside its last larval skin. Its cuticle hardens and takes on a brownish or orange tint.
After five days, the adult emerges. It is ready to mate shortly thereafter and may do so more than once. During the courtship, the male produces a sound by vibrating its wings. The female can store the sperm from insemination and use it to lay eggs for several days. Adult fruit flies live for several weeks.
This species breeds all year round in warm environments. The length of its life cycle varies from 50 days at 12 °C to only eight days at 30 °C.
How to get rid of fruit flies
Apple cider trap
This is the most traditional method to get rid of fruit flies. Just fill a small bowl with about a cup of apple cider vinegar. Then cover with it a plastic wrap and seal with a rubber band. After that, pierce small holes in the wrap – you can do this with a toothpick. Now just leave it out to attract the flies! The smell of apple cider vinegar is irresistible to fruit flies and the idea is that once inside, they won’t be able to come out.
The detergent trap
If you don’t have any plastic wrap, a dab of dish soap in an open bowl of apple cider vinegar would suffice. The fragrance attracts the flies once more, but the dishwashing detergent lowers the surface tension, causing them to sink and drown after landing.
Used bottles of old beer or wine
Fruit flies are attracted to the odor of fermenting beer and wine. So, if you have a few nearly empty bottles on hand, you may make use of them. They are drawn to the smell, and due to the bottleneck, they are unable to flee!
Dispose of rotting fruit and vegetables immediately
If you see fruit flies in your house, you should immediately check your fruits and vegetables. If they are overripe or bruised you should throw them in the trash can. Even if it’s just cut.
Make sure your trash can is tightly sealed and if you want to be completely sure, it’s best to put everything in a plastic bag before you throw them away. Preferably place the garbage can outside – at a safe distance from the house.
After that, thoroughly clean the surfaces where there may still be juices.
Rinse empty bottles and glass jars thoroughly
Bottles and jars with some sweet or fermented leftovers are very popular with fruit flies. Empty bottles of soda, bottles of wine or beer, and empty jars that have not been washed off are therefore an ideal breeding ground for fruit flies.
Pay extra attention to brushing your kitchen
You would be amazed at where food can accumulate. Look at the stopper in your sink. Are there leftovers underneath? What about behind your stove? Also, don’t forget to look under cabinets and household appliances and in the farthest corners of your food pantries. And of course also your fridge: you will often find leftover juice and other food residues there.
The food residues will attract food flies.
Dispose of organic waste outside & clean your trash can
If you see fruit flies swarming around or above your garbage can, then it’s time to clean it thoroughly. Put your trash can outside until you completely rid it of the fruit flies.
Do not leave the dishes unwashed for a long time
Especially no empty glasses where sweet drinks have been drunk. Do not wait until the evening to do the dishes either, especially when it comes to glasses with juice or wine or knives with jam.
If you don’t have time to do the dishes immediately, rinse the dirty plates, glasses, and cutlery at least well to remove the worst residues.
Check places where you store vegetables
Potatoes, onions, and other vegetables are often stored in a cool, dark place. A fruit fly infestation can also occur there. A rotting onion or potato is enough to maintain a fruit fly infestation. Throw away soft potatoes or onions and clean the container or shelf where you store them before putting the rest of the vegetables back.
Replace old sponges, mops, or cleaning wipes
Fruit flies sometimes lay eggs on old sponges or mops. If you haven’t recently replaced your kitchen sponges, do it now. Also, check that no fruit flies are flying around your mop and throw all reusable dishcloths in the laundry.
Always close lids on jars well
A fruit fly infestation can occur because a jar of jam is not properly closed. So check all the lids.
Catching fruit flies with vinegar
Catching fruit flies can also be done in the following way: they go directly to anything that smells even a little bit like rotting fruit or vegetables. Put a jar of cider vinegar where you see the flies and you may be able to catch a whole bunch of them.
Clean your drain
Fruit flies are fine with living in the sewer, so they can also come out of your drain. Then make sure you clean this drain.
Diseases caused by fruit flies
The fruit fly represents a significant threat to health because it lays its eggs and develops within the fruit itself, which increases the health risks for those who might eat them. This can lead to the transmission of a multitude of microbes, bacteria, and viruses that are dangerous for humans.
- Tuberculosis ;
- Cholera ;
- Leprosy ;
- Ophthalmic anthrax;
- Parasitic worms;
- Gastrointestinal infections;
They can also deposit their excrement and leave behind their saliva on the food which promotes traces of mold. Their presence thus contaminates the infested environment and leaves little room for hygiene.
Especially on warm days, they are everywhere: fruit flies! They lay up to 500 eggs a day and multiply rapidly. Fruit flies exist all year round, but they adore summer. At temperatures above 25 degrees, the larvae hatch in just 24 hours. This means that quick and effective solutions to get rid of are needed. We hope the tips given above are useful to you in getting rid of these pesky little beasts.
Jenny holds a Master’s degree in psychiatry from the University of Illinois and Bachelors’s degree from the University of Texas in nutritional sciences. She works as a dietician for Austin Oaks Hospital in Austin, Texas. Jenney writes content on nutrition and mental health for the Scientific Origin.