Kitchen Confidence

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

by • July 23, 2013 26 Comments

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Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today, a disclaimer: No fruit flies were harmed or killed in the writing of this post. (But we can't say we'd be sad if they had been.) 

What's the only creature that loves fruit more than you do? Fruit flies. In the world of science, they're known as drosophila and have been crucial in the understanding of basic genetics. But in the world of your kitchen, they're known as annoying black specks -- so small you wonder if you're hallucinating -- that orbit around your face every time you try to eat. 

Don't be embarrassed if you have a fruit fly problem -- it happens to the best of us. The little buggers seem to come from nowhere and are practically impossible to get rid of.

But you have the power to do the impossible. Armed with a few basic tools, you can rid yourself of fruit flies and begin your new fruit fly-free life. 

First, you must understand your enemy. Fruit flies live for 8 to 10 days and the females lay up to 500 eggs at a time. This translates into rapid multiplication: lots and lots of little fruit fly babies.

To rid your kitchen of fruit flies, the first step is to destroy their breeding ground. Fruit flies lay eggs on the surface of ripening fruit, so for the time being, move your produce into the fridge. Fruit flies also spawn in sink drains, garbage disposals, empty bottles, and damp sponges, so be extra vigilant with your kitchen clean-up. 

Even when you've removed the surfaces fruit flies are attracted to, it's likely there are still fruit fly larvae lurking in the corners of your kitchen, ready to develop into adults. This is where traps come in.

Sadly, in order to break free of the fruit fly shackles, you must kill adult flies. You can purchase traps, but these DIY methods are as, if not more, effective.

The Funnel Method

Take a sheet of paper and form a cone-shaped funnel. Seal the funnel with tape and stick it into a jar or wine bottle that's baited with a small amount of apple cider vinegar or a ripe banana. Place the trap in the most afflicted area of your kitchen. The flies, not clever enough to realize that they can exit by way of the entrance, will accumulate in the jar. Once you've amassed a nice collection, either spray them with insecticide or, if you're an animal lover (and a risk-taker), release them into the great outdoors.

The Plastic Wrap Method

Put apple cider vinegar in a small jar of bowl and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Cover the vessel with plastic wrap (fastened with a rubber band for extra security) and poke three or four holes in the plastic. The fruit flies will not only be trapped, but they will also be destined to drown. The soap in the dishwashing liquid alters the surface tension of the vinegar so that instead of landing on the surface, the flies fall in.

We recommend using apple cider vinegar as bait. Heat it for 10 seconds in the microwave to help release the fragrances that attract the flies. If you don't have vinegar on hand, wine, tequila, and rotten or ripe fruit will also attract fruit flies. 

We don't endorse the killing of fruit flies, but it's a dog-eat-dog world out there and humans and fruit flies just can't coexist. At least not in your kitchen.  

How do you get rid of fruit flies? Tell us in the comments below! 

Tags: kitchen confidence, fruit flies, flies, traps, bugs, kitchen, fruit, vegetables, produce, how-to & diy

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Comments (26)


almost 2 years ago Nora

This couldn't have come at a better time. I'm overrun!


almost 2 years ago janeofmanytrade

i just leave an empty, or should i say almost empty, bottle of wine on the counter. with a tablespoon of wine in the bottom, the flies are lured in and can't find their way back out.


almost 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

I hold a black belt in the funnel method!


almost 2 years ago Liisa Lambert

The good old fashioned fly catcher paper is my best bet. Cheap, very effective,though sometimes you get sticky fingers when hanging it up!


almost 2 years ago Big rascal

We picked up a green capensis plant at the farmers market. Eats the flys and feeds the plant which has beautiful flowers by the way.


almost 2 years ago rosalind5

Fun fact: Drosophila can also see UV light and are highly attracted towards it. So at the end of a hard day "pushing flies" (as fly geneticists call it), you turn on a big UV bug zapper on the wall, and any stray flies will be drawn inexorably towards it...


almost 2 years ago Sarah Jampel

Sarah is Food52's associate editor.

It seems like some of the best tips for catching fruit flies come from the scientists who spend all day working with them!


almost 2 years ago Lynn Chen

I use a jar with holes on top - like the plastic wrap idea but more sturdy:


almost 2 years ago Kathy Suszczewicz

We cut the top off a larger single serving coke bottle (don't ask me why, we've tried water bottles and it doesn't work with them) . Cut the top off at about 1/3 of the way down and where the shape is at it's widest. Put a banana peel in the bottom of the bottle and invert the top into the bottle. Tape around the circumference where the 2 cuts meet. The fruit flies are attracted to the peel (we tried other bait, the banana peel was the most attractive to the flies) they fly down into the bottle, but can't seem to navigate back up and out. It has something to do with the need to fly backwards at take off.


almost 2 years ago Giggles

Given a choice between wine and cider vinegar, the fruit flies and I are on the same page! They seem to really love red wine. I compost with worms and ended up with a huge fruit fly problem! Vacuuming helps, and the wine with a little dish soap catches the strays (now I prevent the problem by freezing all my worm food first).


almost 2 years ago erynmarch

this kind of article and you guys' comments are exactly the reason why food52 is my new favorite food site. i feel like i found a home.


almost 2 years ago Sarah Jampel

Sarah is Food52's associate editor.

This is the best news I've heard all day!


almost 2 years ago First We Eat

After trapping the existing flies, clean your trash cans and drains. Fruit flies love to breed in there! It took me forever to figure out why they were all hanging out in the powder room!


almost 2 years ago K. R.

Sweet Riesling in a glass: add a drop of dish soap and a dash of water to break up the surface tension and swirl or stir until combined. Leave it out on the counter overnight. Works like a charm!


almost 2 years ago Larrian Gillespie

I actually find it rather zen...swaying to music which sucking the life out of those little buggers. Starts my day off quite nicely.


almost 2 years ago Olypeninah

I agree with Larrian - the vacuum cleaner method, in the morning when they're slow, is one of the unsung pleasures of summer.


almost 2 years ago NM Expats

If you use tequila for bait, does it make the flies clothes fall off?


almost 2 years ago kcallison

Enquiring minds want to know this!


almost 2 years ago Elizabeth Boyette

My grandma has long had a glass of apple cider vinegar sitting on her table for this reason so I often use the apple cider but add the modern dish soap addition. I have read that the vinegar entices them in and then the soap actually kills them. I am amazed at the amount I catch (we buy a ton of fresh fruit/veg so the summer is the worst!) I haven't tried the plastic wrap but that seems really smart to keep them in!


almost 2 years ago aobenour

I did the plastic wrap method last week. Vinegar alone wasn't very attractive to them, at least compared to my peaches and tomatoes, and neither was vinegar with a strip of orange peel. But when I put half squeezed lemon in there it worked like a charm. After one night I'd caught them all.


almost 2 years ago Sarah Jampel

Sarah is Food52's associate editor.

It's so funny that you suggested that. I had a box of lemons that were a fruit fly magnet, but I hadn't come across any tips to use lemons as bait. I'll have to try it next time!


almost 2 years ago Susie Rodarme

I think if you're going to use vinegar, you need to use the fancy-pants extra-fermented very apple-y vinegar. I had no love with vinegar, either, but they attacked some sweet wine I left out.


almost 2 years ago Larrian Gillespie

I endorse the handvac method. Suck those little buggers up daily until gone.


almost 2 years ago Sarah Jampel

Sarah is Food52's associate editor.

I like the way you think, Larrian! I've also heard you can kill them with a hair dryer! But then the problem is that you'll have dead fruit flies in your hair dryer and a whole other problem to tackle.


almost 2 years ago caroline.gillis1

KILL THEM ALL. My last apartment had fruit flies up the wazoo. My current one has ants.


almost 2 years ago Sylvie Thao Osburn

I, on the other hand, wholly endorse killing fruit flies!