If you see small insects flying around your kitchen, they’re probably fruit flies. These annoying bugs can be a nuisance all year, but they are most common in the summer and early fall. This is due to their preference for ripened fruits and vegetables.
Though fruit flies are not a hygiene problem, they are extremely difficult to control once they have infested your home because they can lay eggs on everything, even the smallest of crumbs. They are also capable of laying eggs in your drains.
Fortunately, there are several steps you may take to discourage fruit flies from settling in, to get rid of them once they arrive, and to keep them from returning. Here are a few examples:
1. Check for Rotten Produce
It’s easy to remember to throw out or eat ripe produce on your counter, but what about those rotting potatoes or onions in the pantry? Remember that cracked or damaged bits of fruits and vegetables should be cut off and discarded in case fruit fly eggs are present.
A single rotting potato or onion left in the back of a closet, or a spilled fruit juice under a refrigerator, can breed thousands of fruit flies. So does a basement recycling bin that is never emptied or washed.
2. Clean Out the Drain
Cleaning out your kitchen sink drain with ice or apple cider vinegar can also help, as fruit flies tend to breed in the drain, where bits of rotting fruit and vegetables often remain. If you have a kitchen fan, you can use it to keep fruit flies at bay.
3. Do the Dishes
Washing dishes as you use them will significantly reduce fruit fly breeding grounds. They won’t be tempted to lay their eggs in the gunk that accumulates on your sink’s plates. Don’t forget to have some cups of water or other liquids. You want to get rid of any possible breeding grounds, which may include dirty dishes.
4. Rinse Your Fruit
When you get home from the grocery store or market, wash it before storing or displaying it. Rinse with water, or one of those fruit and vegetable washes that they sell, or just vinegar and water.
To make the vinegar wash, combine two parts water and one part vinegar. Since it destroys some bacteria, this mixture can also prevent the food from rotting for a little longer. But be sure to give your fruits and vegetables one last rinse in water before you’re finished, so the vinegar taste and smell don’t linger.
5. Don’t Keep Ripe Fruit on the Counter
Fruit flies come out of nowhere as the fruit ripens and begins to ferment. Place ripe fruit in the refrigerator and ripening fruits on the counter in paper bags. The cold delays the ripening of the fruit as well as the growth of the flies.
Take out any damp towels
After using damp kitchen towels or dish rags, don’t leave them lying around. Wash them at least once a day because they can serve as a breeding ground for fruit flies.
6. Make a Liquid Soap Trap
Combine water, a few drops of dish soap, and a tablespoon or two of cider vinegar in a small bowl or cup. The vinegar will attract the fruit flies, while the dish soap will break the surface tension of the liquid, causing them to fall in and drown.
7. Make a Jar Trap
Take a jar and place something that will draw them inside. Fruit flies are attracted to sweet, rotting, fermenting foods, so try overripe fruit, old wine, stale beer or soda, or apple cider vinegar. Put that in the pot, then wrap it in plastic wrap and poke a couple of small holes in it. They will get in but cannot get out.
8. Use a Banana as a Trap
Make the same trap as mentioned above, but this time use a bit of ripened banana or other fruit instead of vinegar.
9. Freeze Your Compost
If you compost, you should think about changing your habits. Some bugs are beneficial to the compost pile, but fruit flies can cause havoc by flying from the compost pile to your garden and laying eggs in your growing produce. Flies and their eggs are killed when vegetables and fruits are frozen before being composted.
10. Try a Store-Bought Product
There are insect sprays and repellents you could spritz around your kitchen, as well as sticky fly paper and plastic traps. However, apple cider vinegar really does the same thing: attract the flies and trap them. You probably already have all the stuff you need to fix the problem.