Every summer, without fail, my kitchen gets fruit flies. I don’t know where these insidious little buggers come from — the kitchen is clean, the trash can doesn’t have anything in it besides wrappers, and all of the windows are closed.
And yet, these tiny bugs find a way in … year after year, the war is waged and ends only once it gets cold enough for the fruit flies to die off in one dinosauric swoop.
But this year will be different, I swear. Why? Because now I know the best way to prevent (and get rid of!) fruit flies.
Where Do Fruit Flies Come From?
Outside! It turns out that fruit flies are so tiny that they can just fly right through window screens to come into your home. And it doesn’t take much to attract them — they can easily sniff out a bit of ripening fruit or fermenting food in your garbage disposal or trash bin and head straight for it.
But knowing this, there are steps you can take to banish the bugs from your kitchen forever.
How To Prevent Them
First things first: A dirty kitchen breeds bugs. Don’t leave dishes in the sink, crumbs on the counter or trash on the table. Take out the garbage frequently (if you can smell it, so can they). Even when you’re tired, find a way to clean up right away, or you’ll attract the flies and then they’ll take over.
“Fruit flies have a quick gestation period,” Scot Hodges, director of professional development for technical services at Arrow Exterminators, told The Kitchn. “It only takes them 12 to 15 hours to lay eggs, then just a week for those eggs to turn into adults, so you can develop a problem really quickly.”
What would you rather do, load the dishwasher or fight through a cloud of bugs to find your refrigerator? That’s what I thought. Plus, if you keep your kitchen clean, they’ll have nothing to feed on and they’ll die off quickly, as they have a brief life cycle of about seven days. So, once the food source is eliminated, the flies will disappear within a week or so.
Obviously, flies love fruit, so if you have things you can store in your fridge or freezer, do it. Keep in mind, things won’t ripen in there, though … so you’ll have to pick your battles. If you need your bananas to brown, keep them hermetically sealed and stashed where the fruit flies can’t find them.
How To Get Rid Of Them
Your best defenses have failed — fruit flies are taking over your kitchen. Now what?! Well, don’t reach for the can of Raid. Trapping and killing fruit flies is easy, and merely requires a little ingenuity.
Good Housekeeping recommends using a bottle of apple cider vinegar that has been partially sealed with plastic wrap to attract the fruit flies. The flies can’t resist the vinegar, and once they enter the plastic wrap, they won’t be able to leave the bottle. For this tactic, it’s best to use a mostly empty container so you don’t waste an entire bottle of vinegar.
You can also try the dish soap method, which is what we do: Fill a shallow dish with water, vinegar (to attract them) and dish soap (which will drown them).
You can also add a little fruit juice for extra attraction. This has been very effective in my experience, but you’ll want to change the dish daily … because, ew.
Finally, you can place a chunk of extremely ripe fruit in a jar along with a little vinegar. Then, roll a piece of paper into a cone, insert it into the mouth of the jar and let the fruit flies do what they do. This was recommended by Tiffany at Nature Moms, and I can’t vouch for its efficacy (you’d think the flies would just escape from the cone!), but she swears by it.
Good luck, soldier!