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How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

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Today, we're re-running one of our summertime references. 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 (43)

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20 days ago Gina Mcgifford

What about Midgees? Any home remedies for these?

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21 days ago john canepa

I have used the vinegar as bait for years, but put it in a small glass canning jar that I have perforated the insert in the top with many small holes (either an ice pick or small nail works well). Just uncap & wash out periodically. The vinegar will cause the underside of the lid to corrode in time which a piece of sandpaper will fix, or get replacement lids (sold with canning supplies). very effective & inexpensive.

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21 days ago JB

In addition to a trap, set up a box fan to blow over where they're congregating. Just make sure the trap is out of the breeze.

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about 1 month ago Kathy Suszczewicz

Is there an ant thread? Because, we have ants.

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about 1 month ago Jim

There is a product called Orange Guard. My hummingbird feeder was overrun by black ants. I sprayed this around the base and on the pole. No more problem.

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20 days ago Gina Mcgifford

Try equal parts bicarb soda, icing sugar and a little water and mix to a paste. Put this where they are travelling and they will eat it and take it back to nests and explode!

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16 days ago Alice E Goodwin

dermiticus earth food grade will get rid of anything with a exoskeleton including ants, fleas, ticks, cockroaches, I love the stuff

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about 1 month ago Vicky | Things I Made Today

Kombucha and fruit flies, I tell you.

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about 1 month ago Priscilla Unger

Thanks for the tips! Always at war with the nasty little critters around my sourdough starters and ferments...

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about 1 month ago Marty Heck

I just fill a jar halfway full with apple cider vinegar, a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid and a day later, there's corpses galore! I don't bother with the plastic wrap. But you half to put your fruit away so they go to this to feed: and FYI, we found a rotting onion in our pantry that was overrun with them so they will go for more than just fruit! Happy hunting!

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19 days ago Edward Lee

This is what we do! Works like magic and simple.

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about 1 month ago Julia

Great DIY tips, thanks! If your fruit fly problem is at your bar, here are some tips for prevention and (to put it gently) "Getting rid" of the adult flies. http://www.abarabove.com...

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about 1 month ago Adam Wilczewski

For the record everyone...Hot Shot and other wafer like hanging products contain DDVP, a World War 2 nerve agent! Not necessary.

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about 1 month ago Adam Wilczewski

Drink the wine! Use your vinegar for cooking!
Just buy some FlyPunch!, which is 544% more effective than other non-toxic products. It saves you time and money. Check it out here: www.auntfanniesco.com.

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about 1 month ago nancy essig

For the first year EVER, I have no fruit flies. I put my compost bucket out on the deck and all the fruit is in the fridge. NOT ONE!

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about 1 month ago dora

I have a kikkoman soy sauce bottle sitting on the table and if you leave some soy sauce in the bottom the flies go in the cap holes and can't get out!! Just make sure you label the bottle and don't use it!! It's hard to see them in the soy sauce!!

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about 1 month ago Andie Paysinger

You don't have to make a paper funnel, surely you have inexpensive plastic funnels in your kitchen - the little ones that come in a set and don't seem to have any other use.. put them in a bottle, pour in some vinegar - if you don't have apple cider, just plain vinegar and put in a sliver of fruit which will float on the vinegar and exude scents that attract the little pests.
There is also the "honey trick" spread a very thin layer of honey on a paper plate - heat it in the microwave for 12 seconds and set it on the counter. They will land on it and stick to it. So will regular flies. When it is sufficiently occupied, toss in the trash.

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about 2 years ago Nora

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

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about 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.

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about 2 years ago QueenSashy

QueenSashy is a trusted home cook.

I hold a black belt in the funnel method!

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about 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!

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about 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.

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about 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...

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about 2 years ago Sarah Jampel

Sarah is Food52's contributors editor.

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

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about 2 years ago Lynn Chen

I use a jar with holes on top - like the plastic wrap idea but more sturdy: http://theactorsdiet.com...

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about 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.