Fruit flies are one of the most common household pests and they can be a huge nuisance for homeowners. Not only that, but researchers have found that fruit flies can “transfer bacteria from a contaminated source, food, or waste to surfaces or ready-to-eat food.
Not to be confused with fungus gnats, which have much different habits and require a different removal method, fruit flies can seemingly appear out of thin air and multiply rapidly, quickly causing an infestation in your kitchen and surrounding rooms. If you’re wondering how to get rid of fruit flies in your home, use the following tips to prevent and remove these annoying pests from your kitchen.
Use the following checklist to determine whether you’re unwittingly inviting bugs into your home.
Identifying Fruit Flies
Fruit flies are commonly confused for fungus gnats, and vice versa. Adult fruit flies and fungus gnats fly and may be seen in the same location. While fruit flies are commonly found in the kitchen and pantry, fungus gnats are more likely to be seen outdoors or in areas with heavy moisture and decaying plant matter. However, fungus gnats can also be found indoors around house plants. Fruit flies have a more light-brown or yellow tinge, while fungus gnats appear to be dark brown, gray, or black. Though it can be difficult to identify and differentiate, these two tiny pests without magnification, both require different methods for helping to remove them.
What Causes Fruit Flies?
While fungus gnats are often brought into homes in the soil of overwatered house plants, fruit flies lay their eggs on produce, such as fruit, which are then brought into your home. Contrary to their name, these pests do not only eat fruit; they will also eat any mature over-ripe vegetables that are left out in the open. Fruit flies are also attracted to warm, humid areas, which makes a fruit fly infestation most likely to occur in late summer or early fall, although these bugs can appear at any time of year.
To avoid bringing infested produce, it’s important to start with inspecting all fresh produce at the store before you buy it. Keep an eye out on any damage, like bruising or browning, that may point to the fruit being overly ripe. If these signs are present, consider purchasing less ripe produce. This same step should be taken for any produce already in your home. If a fruit or vegetable begins to look overly ripe, follow the CDC’s guidelines for fruit and vegetable safety and freeze or refrigerate the produce to help preserve it. Additionally, keep your kitchen counters wiped clean of any sticky residues and crumbs. Food particles that are left behind in the sink, trash cans, and garbage disposal can also attract these annoying pests, so make sure these areas are thoroughly rinsed at the end of each meal.
How to Help Get Rid of Fruit Flies in Your Home
While preventing fruit flies is the easiest way to ensure your home doesn’t host an infestation, there are a few simple DIY methods you can try to help get rid of fruit flies in your home.
Try a DIY trap
One of the most common recommendations for trapping and killing fruit flies is to create a DIY trap made by combining a small amount of apple cider vinegar with a few drops of dish soap. Researchers from the University of Maryland recommend using a commercial fruit fly trap to capture adults or to make your own. To make this trap, “fill glass jar with a small amount of apple cider vinegar and pour a few drops of dish soap over the surface”. Then, cover the glass jar with plastic wrap and poke small holes throughout the covering. The sweet smell of the apple cider vinegar attracts the fruit flies to the surface, while the dish soap reduces the surface tension of the apple cider vinegar and makes it easier to trap barrier created by the dish soap traps and drown these pests.
However, while using this type of trap can help remove adult fruit flies, it’s considered to be just a temporary solution that won’t fully eradicate the problem. In fact, this type of trap typically only helps remove the adult fruit flies for one to two weeks. If adult fruit flies have laid eggs in decaying produce inside or near your home, you may face another adult fruit fly infestation within 30 days after the eggs hatch.
Locate the breeding sites
Instead of relying on homemade traps, it’s better to locate and remove the source of the fruit fly infestation. Though it may seem wasteful, the best way to ensure you eliminate any potential breeding sites is to discard ripe or rotting produce where fruit flies may have laid their eggs. Seal this produce in a plastic bag and place it in an outdoor trash can. Next, make sure all indoor trash cans are emptied routinely and are free of leftover food and residues. Wipe down the trash cans with soap and warm water to remove any sweet, sticky substances from the surface.
Remove common attractants
Ultimately, the best way to get rid of fruit flies is through prevention. If you do not own one already, invest in a trash can that comes with a tightly-sealed lid. Open trash cans may seem easier to use, but the food inside the trash cans are more likely to entice fruit flies. Next, inspect your kitchen for any moist or damp areas with organic matter. Finally, make it a habit of thoroughly inspecting all produce at the store before bringing it home. Avoid purchasing any overly ripe or damaged produce. Once purchased, keep all items refrigerated to help slow the decaying process and deter flies from infesting the fruit.
If you complete these steps and the fruit fly problem still persists. Commit to a routine cleaning schedule that will help you keep your living spaces clean and tidy. Not only will this help make your home less attractive to fruit flies, it will also deter fruit flies from entering your home, but routine cleaning can also help prevent other pest infestations, as well.