How to kill fruit flies

Fruit flies are amazing and by that I mean amazingly annoying! These tiny creatures can detect the smell of ripe fruits and vegetables from miles away. If there’s a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter, there’s probably a fruit fly or two looking for a way into your home to get to it. Because they’re so small, they can get in through window screens or crevices around windows or doors.

Once inside, they reproduce like crazy and not only in overripe fruit. They love the slime that collects in a drain or the nice, cozy bed of a sour mop or sponge. Add the heat of summer to any of those situations and before you know it, you’ve got yourself a full-fledged, annoying fruit fly infestation.

Tired of fruit flies taking over? First toss anything overripe, clean the muck from the drains* and eliminate wet sponges, mops and the like. Then try one of these effective remedies to banish them from your kitchen.

UNFILTERED APPLE CIDER VINEGAR. Remove the cap from the bottle of apple cider vinegar (it doesn’t have to be full—nearly empty works, too). Cover the opening with plastic wrap and secure with a rubber band. Then poke a hole for fruit flies to enter. They can’t resist the scent of the apple cider vinegar. Once inside this trap they won’t be able to exist.

VINEGAR AND DISH SOAP. Add three drops of any dish soap to a small bowl of apple cider vinegar and leave it completely uncovered. The soap cuts the surface tension of the vinegar so the flies will sink and drown.

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PAPER CONE AND FRUIT. Place a little vinegar and  chunk of very ripe fruit in a jar. Roll a piece of paper into a cone and stick it in the jar with the narrow opening downward. Fruit flies will be drawn in but they can’t get out.

MILK, SUGAR, PEPPER. Cook up a batch of this fruit fly bait that comes from an Old Farmer’s Almanac. Combine a pint of milk, 4 ounces of raw sugar and 2 ounces ground pepper in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. Then, pour into a shallow dish. The flies will be drawn to the mixture and quickly drown.

RED WINE. Fruit flies love the sweetness of wine. Try leaving out a bottle with a little liquid left—the skinny neck will trap the flies.

FLY PUNCH. I’ve had reports from multiple readers who say that Aunt Fannie’s FlyPunch! works better for them to attract and eliminate fruit flies than any other remedy they’ve tried. This non-toxic formula that contains sodium lauryl sulfate and maltic acid is fast, powerful and easy to use. And it is reported to last up to 30 days. About $8.

More: How to Make a Fruit Fly Trap

If you have any slow-moving drains in your house, there may be enough organic matter hanging out inside your pipes to support a breeding population of fruit flies. You can tape some plastic wrap over suspect drains for a few days to check for fruit flies. If you see adults on the underside of the plastic, you’ve got some breeding in your drain. To fix any drainage issues, pour boiling hot water down problem drains to help loosen accumulated deposits. If accessible, you can also use a firm brush to scrub the inside of the pipe and free debris.


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How to prevent them

First things first—a dirty kitchen breeds bugs. Don’t leave dishes in the sink, crumbs or juice on the counter, or trash on the table. Take out the garbage frequently (if you can smell it, so can they). Even when you’re tired, you need to clean up right away, or you’ll attract the flies and then they’ll take over.

“Fruit flies have a quick gestation period,” Scot Hodges, director of professional development for technical services at Arrow Exterminators, told The Kitchn. “It only takes them 12 to 15 hours to lay eggs, then just a week for those eggs to turn into adults, so you can develop a problem really quickly.”

What would you rather do, load the dishwasher or fight through a cloud of bugs to find your refrigerator? That’s what I thought. But at the same time, if you keep your kitchen clean, they’ll have nothing to feed on, and they’ll die off quickly.

“In addition to the short gestation cycle, they have a short life cycle, only about seven days, so if you get rid of the food source, the flies will be totally gone within a week,” Hodges said.

Obviously, flies love fruit, so if you have things you can store in your fridge or freezer, do it. Keep in mind, things won’t ripen in there though… so you’ll have to pick your battles. But if you don’t mind bananas with brown skins, keep them hermetically sealed where the fruit flies can’t find them.

bananas photo

Flickr | keepon

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