How do I get rid of fruit flies?

Asked September 16, 2013, 1:28 PM EDT

I have a bad infestation.

Presque Isle County Michigan integrated pest management insect issues fruit flies

1 Response

Flies of all kinds peak in numbers during late summer because there is lots of decaying fruit and other organic material this time of year. Fall is the time of the year when fruit flies, aka vinegar flies, can become very bothersome in homes. This is especially true for anyone with a vegetable garden or backyard orchard.

Fruit flies are very small, light brown with red eyes. They love fermenting fruits and are attracted to any sweet liquid be it fruit or vegetable juice, soda and beer left in the bottom of the can, or something thrown into the garbage. Fruit flies may be small enough to pass through window screens so it is difficult to keep them out of the house. They are very irritating to gardeners who want to display their hard earned produced on the kitchen table. If you put a bowl of tomatoes or fruit out this time of year, it will likely have a swarm of these tiny little pests around it in a matter of minutes.

Eliminating those things that attract fruit flies is the best way to avoid problems. Fruit flies can reproduce anywhere there is wet fermenting organic matter present.

  • Ripe fruit or damaged fruit should be eaten, refrigerated or thrown away.
  • Check drawers and other areas where fruit, potatoes or onions are stored to make sure that none is starting to rot or leak juice.
  • Empty the kitchen garbage every evening and make sure the garbage container is clean and dry before adding new garbage.
  • Clean up any spilled fruit juice, beer, wine or liquids that may ferment.
  • Check under your refrigerator and other movable appliances and furniture for hidden spills and messes.
  • Thoroughly clean recyclable cans and bottles before storing them and avoid storing them in the living space whenever possible.

Fruit flies may also develop in garbage disposals and drains. Drains and traps should be cleaned and sterilized with boiling water.

Adult fruit flies can be controlled with aerosol insecticides labeled for household use.

Homemade or commercially available fruit fly traps are also very effective in reducing their numbers. Many trap designs are available on the internet. Here are two designs that are reported to be effective.

Use a small jar with a homemade paper cone set on top of it with the narrow end of the cone pointing up. Place a bit of juice or rotting fruit in the bottom to attract the flies. The paper cone will keep them in the jar until they die. A variation of this trap is to use a small kitchen funnel set into a tall wine glass with a splash of wine in the bottom of the glass. The flies seem to like the wine much better than the juice. Empty the trap and replace the splash of wine every day. (*Author’s Note: Vinegar will also work as a bait; good wine should be drunk, not wasted on fruit flies.)

Here's another design. Fill several juice glasses (or smaller) with apple cider vinegar to about 2/3rds full. Then add a drop or two, no more, of liquid dishwashing soap to the vinegar and swirl it a bit. Then stretch plastic wrap across the top of the glass so it is taut. A rubber band will hold it in place. Punch about a dozen or so holes in the plastic wrap with a toothpick and set out the traps where the flies seem to congregate. The flies enter the trap through the holes and drown themselves in the vinegar. Empty and refresh as needed.