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 (believe it or not) have actually been crucial in the understanding of basic genetics. But in the world of your kitchen, they're known as flying little specks—so small you wonder if you're imagining them—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.
Where do Fruit Flies Come From?
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.
Fruit flies are different from gnats, though they are often mistaken for each other. Whereas fruit flies are beige to reddish-brown in color, gnats are typically grey or black; and while fruit flies are most commonly found in warm, wet areas of your kitchen near overripe produce, gnats are drawn to organic matter (like the compost you keep outside).
Watch: A Bubbly Blueberry Pie for All That Ripe Fruit
How do I Get Rid of Fruit Flies?
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, tightly wrap up your produce (or store it in a container) and move it 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. (Because fruit flies and their larvae also dislike clean surfaces, give your countertops and other surfaces in your kitchen a good wipedown with a nontoxic cleaning spray.)
Sadly, in order to break free of the fruit fly shackles, you must kill adult flies. You can purchase traps, but either of these DIY fruit fly-removal methods are as, if not more, effective.
The Funnel Method for Getting Rid of Fruit Flies
Step 1: 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.
Step 2: Place the trap in the most afflicted area of your kitchen. The fruit flies, not clever enough to realize that they can exit by way of the entrance, will accumulate in the jar.
Step 3: 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
Step 1: Put apple cider vinegar in a small jar or bowl and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid.
Step 2: Cover the vessel with plastic wrap (fastened with a rubber band for extra security) and poke three or four holes in the plastic.
Step 3: 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.
Top-Rated Commerical Fruit Fly Traps
If you want to bring out the big guns, you can purchase powerful fruit fly traps on Amazon, or at places like Home Depot or Bed Bath & Beyond. Here are a few of the top-rated fruit fly traps you can buy online:
- Garsum Sticky Fruit Fly Trap, $10.99
- Fruit Fly Bar Pro, $10.99
- KATCHY Indoor Insect Trap, $39.97
- Eco Defense Fruit Fly Trap, $15.90
Do you have a foolproof method for getting rid of fruit flies? Tell us in the comments below!
This post has recently been updated and contains products that are independently selected by our editors and writers, and Food52 may earn an affiliate commission.