Fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) are appropriately named because the mother lays her eggs on just about any fruit it can. When the eggs hatch, the offspring start as maggots and feed on the fruit where they were born. The eggs are typically laid on ripe fruit so by the time the eggs hatch the maggots have rotten fruit (which they love) to feast on. The mother can produce a few hundred baby fruit flies who are able to reproduce within a week. Needless to say that things can get out of hand quickly if a fruit fly problem is not remedied quickly. However, the flies would need a continuous food source of fruit (sometimes vegetables) to maintain an endless reproduction cycle. The good news is that they only survive about 50 days. However, this may seem like an eternity when you are battling to kill a population. Fortunately, there are several cheap and easy home remedies to eliminate fruit flies quickly.
How To Eliminate Fruit Flies
- The Bottle Trap Method – This is a classic method that you might have heard of. Take an old plastic bottle like a 2-liter soda bottle and add a half inch of fruit juice, wine, or apple cider vinegar to the bottom of the bottle. Cover the top of the bottle with Saran wrap and add several small holes (about toothpick tip size) in the wrap. The flies go in the trap, feast on the food source, and cannot fly back out.
- Vinegar & Soap Method – This is like the bottle trap method, but a plastic wrap cover is not required. Simply grab a small bowl and add a half inch of apple cider vinegar to the bottom. Squeeze in a couple of drops of dish soap and set the dish near the infested area. The flies will be attracted to the apple cider vinegar, but the soap will cause them to stick to the liquid and they will not be able to fly out.
- Basil Method – Basil is believed to ward off fruit flies because of its strong smell. Many grocery stores carry potted basil plants in the produce section that are relatively cheap. Set the plant near the fruit to deter the flies with the plant’s strong scent and oils. You can even just buy a package of basil leaves and spread them in the fruit bowl. Replace the leaves when they begin to rot.
- Cone in Jar Method – Fill a jar with about a half inch of vinegar, fruit juice, wine, or ripe fruit. Create a funnel using a piece of paper. Place the cone into the jar with the cone tip going in first. Tape the lip of the jar to the cone so that the fruit flies cannot escape in-between the jar lip and the cone (see the above photo). The flies will go into the funnel, but most cannot figure out how to exit. You can let the little guys free outside if they are still living or let them perish in the jar.
- Lemongrass Oil Method – This method uses a mixture of 16 ounces of tap water with approximately 8 drops of lemongrass essential oil. Shake the mixture in a spray bottle and spray the environment near where the flys are living. The spray can also be used as a repellent for other insects as well.
- Insense Method – Incense produce smoke and a strong smell that fruit flies hate. By putting the incense near the infested source like a fruit bowl, you can essentially smoke out the pests without having to go through the hassle of making a trap.
Tips To Prevent Future Fruit Flys
- Throw away any fruit or vegetables that show signs of rotting. While fruit flies lay their eggs on ripe fruits or vegetables, the babies (maggots) actually feed off rotten food when hatched. Cut off the food source and you eliminate the problem. Be sure to take rotting food outside so that the problem does transfer from the fruit bowl to your kitchen trash can.
- Many people do not have time to clean the dishes or kitchen right away, but if you have fruit flies it is important. As food residue sits on the dishes and countertops it can create a feeding frenzy. Many times your kitchen is clean, however, you miss a spot where leftover food is attracting the flies. Sometimes all that is needed is a thorough kitchen scrub down to eliminate the pests.
- Change out dish rags and sponges often. They can collect food and beverages that attract the flies.
- Run the garbage disposal and flush the drain with water on a regular basis to avoid leftover food. Fix any drainage problems to ensure food debris flows away quickly.
- Wash your fruit when you bring it home from the store. This will potentially eliminate any eggs that may exist on your produce.
- Empty the trash regularly because this can be a breeding ground for fruit flies. This is especially important when you know the trash contains a food they love (fruit, juice, old wine, rotting vegetables, etc). They can make their way into any space so don’t believe that hiding the trash in the cupboard will deter them.
- The fruit bowl should be checked routinely so that rotting fruit can be eliminated. Additionally, store fruit in the refrigerator or at least temporarily until the fruit flies disappear. Fruit flies thrive in warm weather and are less likely to survive in a cooler temperature environment.