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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 say goodbye to 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 house 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 these insects are most active.

Wondering how to get rid of fruit flies in your house? Fortunately, following a good cleaning of your house, especially your kitchen, it’s pretty simple to do using basic ingredients such as vinegar.

Let’s look below at what attracts fruit flies in the first place, as well as methods for deterring them.

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 species of this insect, 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 drains, 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 them is very important!

Although they look like gnats, fruit flies are a different species that are attracted to different things. 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.

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies Naturally

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

The very best way to prevent and remove insects from invading your kitchen is to avoid keeping food inside 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 garbage has a tight lid on it.

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

2. Throw Out Ripe or Rotting Fruits and Veggies that Attract Them

How do you get rid of fruit flies in five minutes? As mentioned above, they seek out ripe, rotting or decayed fruit and produce. This means you first want to remove any fruits and vegetables from your house right away that may be rotting or are very ripe, such as bruised ripe bananas, berries, peaches, plums, etc.

When purchasing fruits and veggies at the grocery store, be careful not to choose those that are too ripe, especially if you aren’t using them right away. Buy fruits and vegetables that are underripe, or store very ripe produce in your fridge so it’s not out in open air.

It’s also smart to wash produce as soon as you get home from the grocery store to remove any potential larvae that might be hiding inside.

To make your home less attractive to these pests, put sugary ingredients and produce in airtight containers or in your refrigerator.

Flies 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 prevent them from accumulating by these drinks, always clean up and throw away old bottles.

3. Attract Existing Flies to Trap Them

If you already have these pests in your home, you can ingredients including apple cider vinegar, old beer or wine to attract and kill them.

To make a fruit fly trap, fill a bowl or cup with a good amount of apple cider vinegar (or your beverage of choice, but make it an old one that’s fermenting), cover it with plastic wrap tightly and then poke tiny holes in the top so the flies can get inside.

They’ll be be attracted to the vinegar, so they’ll go inside the bowl and then get trapped. Note: You want to use apple cider vinegar and not white vinegar, since white isn’t as sweet.

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 kill them quicker and makes it harder for them to fly away.

Yet another way to make a fruit fly trip is to use old fruit. Put some cut-up, ripe fruit and some apple cider vinegar in a tall cup or jar. Then roll up some paper into a cone, and put it inside the jar with the smaller opening placed down/bigger opening at the top.

This basically creates a funnel that the insects fly into but they have hard time escaping from.

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

If you follow the directions above, you should notice a big difference within a couple of days. Again, you want to act quickly since the problem can escalate rapidly once they 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 insects, including 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. These same ingredients can be used to make fly traps, too.

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 insects in your kitchen 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.
  • They often lay their eggs in rotten fruit and other organic materials, and this can escalate the problem quickly. Thankfully there are natural ways to prevent them from proliferating in your home.
  • How do you get rid of fruit flies in your home? Throw out 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.
  • You can also make a fruit fly trap using apple cider vinegar.

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