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How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies Naturally

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How to get rid of fruit flies - Dr. Axe

If you’ve ever fought the battle against tiny insects in your home, such as ants, gnats or fruit flies, then you know how tedious it can be to get rid of them for good. Thankfully, there are natural ways for how to get rid of fruit flies.

Chances are if your kitchen surfaces tend to harbor some sugary residue or crumbs, then your home may be prone to attracting fruit flies over and over again. This is especially true during the summer and hotter, more humid times of year when fruit flies are most active.

Wondering how to get rid of fruit flies in your house? Following a good cleaning of your home, fortunately it’s pretty simple to do using household ingredients such as vinegar.

Let’s look below at what attracts fruit flies in the first place, as well as methods for how to get rid of fruit flies fast and as naturally as possible.

Where Do Fruit Flies Come From?

A fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) is a small insect that has the ability to reproduce rapidly in moist areas. There are a number of different fruit fly species, including:

  • Mexican
  • Caribbean
  • Olive
  • Citrus
  • Mediterranean
  • Western Cherry fruit flies

What causes fruit flies in the house? The No. 1 thing they are attracted to is fructose (sugar), specifically from fruits and vegetables that are very ripe, rotting and fermenting.

They can sometimes also be found inside sink grains, decaying meat, trash bins and opened sodas, juices or alcohol.

Female fruit flies typically seek out very ripe or decaying fruit to lay their eggs in. Once they find a good place to lay their eggs, they may drop up to 500 eggs at one time!

Several days later these eggs hatch, and you’ll have a new swarm of flies in your home that are capable of reproducing just several days later. Thus, acting fast and aggressively when you first see the flies is very important!

Although they look like gnats, fruit flies are a different species that are attracted to different things in your home. Gnats are usually gray or black, while fruit flies are either tan, red, orange or brown, sometimes with red eyes.

The tiny larvae of fruit flies (also called pupae) tend to crawl out of the breeding site, such as inside rotting fruit, over to a nearby dry spot. Within about 24 hours these larvae can mature enough to begin flying around your home.

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies Naturally

What is the fastest way to get rid of fruit flies? The first step for how to get rid of fruit flies is to thoroughly clean your home, then to discard any residue and produce that they’re attracted to.

The very best way to get rid of fruit flies for good is to avoid keeping food in your home that they eat and thrive off of.

Heres’s how to get rid of fruit flies in a few simple steps:

1. Clean Your Home Well

Fruit flies are deterred from clean and dry surfaces, so the goal is to make sure your home (especially your kitchen where food is kept) is free of sugary residue, crumbs and open food. Pay close attention to areas where they are drawn to, such as:

  • fruit baskets or bowls
  • countertops
  • drains
  • garbage disposals
  • trash cans
  • mops/sponges
  • dirty dishes laying around
  • mop buckets

Thoroughly wipe down these areas with soap and water or a kitchen cleaner. Keep your sink drains free of food particles, and make sure your garage has a tight lid on it.

Also avoid keeping dirty dishes in your sink, and recycle containers in your home with sugary residue on them.

2. Get Rid of Ripe or Rotting Fruits and Veggies that Attract Them

Fruit flies seek out ripe, rotting or decayed fruit and produce. This means you want to remove any fruits and vegetables from your home that may be rotting or are very ripe, such as ripe bananas, berries, peaches, plums, etc.

They can also be attracted to open beer, liquor, juice and wine, especially if they that have been sitting out opened for a while and may be starting to ferment.

To make your home less attractive to these pests, be sure to store produce in airtight containers or your refrigerator. Buy fruits and vegetables that are underripe and not overly ripe, or store very ripe produce in your fridge so it’s not out in open air.

3. Attract Existing Flies to Trap Them

If you already have fruit flies in your home, you can ingredients including apple cider vinegar, old beer or wine to attract and kill them. Do this by filling a bowl with a good amount of apple cider vinegar (or your beverage of choice, but make it an old one that’s fermenting), covering it with plastic wrap tightly and then poking tiny holes in the top so the flies can get inside.

The flies will be attracted to the vinegar, so they’ll go inside the bowl and then get trapped.

Some people also like to mix dish soap and apple cider vinegar together so the flies have a harder time escaping the liquid once they touch it. The soap basically helps to kill them quicker and makes it harder for them to fly away.

How long does it take to get rid of fruit flies?

If you follow the directions above, you should notice a big difference in terms of decreased fruit flies within a couple of days. Again, you want to act quickly since the problem can escalate rapidly once the flies start laying eggs in your home.

How do you get rid of fruit flies aggressively?

If the protocol above isn’t doing enough to control these pests in your home, you can choose to call an exterminator or use certain pest control products that are more aggressive.

Some products that may be helpful include:

  • bacterial digesters to pour down infested drains
  • bleach/ammonia, which can help remove slime from drains that attracts fruit flies
  • traps that can help trap some of the adult flies

Another product with a good reputation is Aunt Fanny’s FlyPunch, which some feel works better than other DIY remedies. According to Good Housekeeping magazine, “The mixture uses the active ingredients sodium lauryl sulfate (a surfactant used in soaps) and malic acid (found in fruit) and comes in a stand-up jar. All you have to do is open the top, set it on your counter, and watch the cycle of life unfold.”

Insecticide sprays are also available, however these usually contain a mix of chemicals, such as DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide), that are not ideal to spray all over your home due to potential concerns.

Will bug spray or citronella oil work for kill fruit flies?

Several types of essential oils — including citronella oil, cedarwood, clove and cinnamon, for example — help deter fruit flies and other insects, such as mosquitoes and house flies. You can diffuse these oils in your home or make a homemade bug spray.

To make homemade bug spray, you need:

  • witch hazel
  • apple cider vinegar
  • essential oils, such as eucalyptus, lemongrass, citronella, tea tree, cinnamon or rosemary essential oil
  • one eight-ounce glass spray bottle

In addition to keeping away bugs, this bug spray also helps kill bacteria on surfaces that it’s sprayed on.

Rubbing alcohol also kills fruit flies, so some people simply fill a spray bottle with pure rubbing alcohol and spray areas where flies tend to be hover and accumulate.

Risks and Side Effects

Fruit flies are mostly just an annoyance and normally not a major problem when it comes to your health. For example, they don’t bite people or pets (and they do not feed on blood or even have biting mouthparts), but they are capable of potentially contaminating food with bacteria.

The biggest risk associated with fruit flies in your home is having them invade produce that you then eat. Be careful about checking produce and meat before eating them if you know your home has these pests.

Conclusion

  • A fruit fly is a tiny insect that is drawn to overripe or decaying fruit and other produce that contains a lot of sugar/fructose.
  • They are most active during the summer and in moist climates. They tend to be found in your kitchen near food, in drains and garbage cans, or even inside decaying meat and open alcohol.
  • Fruit flies often lay their eggs in rotten fruit and other organic materials, and this can escalate the problem quickly. Thankfully there are natural ways for how to get rid of fruit flies.
  • Here’s how to get rid of fruit flies: Get rid of very ripe produce, regularly clean your kitchen and wipe down counters, clean spills quickly, empty your sink drain regularly, and cover your trash cans. Keep any open drinks or ripe produce in sealed containers or in your refrigerator.
Josh Axe

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