It’s one thing to know how to get rid of fruit flies, but what’s even more important is knowing how to keep fruit flies out of your home in the first place.
Today, I’m going to tell you how to do both — naturally.
Why You Need to Kill Fruit Flies
Fruit Flies Live Longer than You Think
There’s a myth that they live and die in 24 hours. It turns out, the life cycle of a fruit fly can be over two weeks. They begin life as tiny eggs laid on the surface of fruits or within poorly sealed containers.
Within 48 hours, those eggs turn into larvae — also known as maggots — that start feeding right away. After another 5 days or so, fruit fly larvae reach adulthood and are ready to get busy with other fruit flies.
And then they live another 50 or so days! Some species even live for several months.
They Breed Like Crazy
Now, imagine you have a suitable breeding ground for just four females in your kitchen. At 100 eggs per day after they’re old enough to breed, you’re looking at thousands of fruit flies in your home — within days!
So, when it comes to getting rid of fruit flies, you can’t really wait them out. And there are good reasons why you should know how to kill fruit flies quickly.
They Carry Disease
Fruit flies don’t just eat your food — they also carry disease. If you have a cat litter box in your home, you’ve probably seen a few flitting about when you’ve gone to scoop kitty’s business. You’ll find them near the bathroom and kitchen drain, too, as well as around toilets and other sources of water.
Every time they land, they’re not just carrying germs from their latest nasty resting spot. Fruit flies breed by inserting their eggs into your food — along with any other bacteria or germs they’re carrying around.
They Contaminate Your Food
Guess where fruit flies most love to breed? Your food! Females burrow into fruit, vegetables or any other food left on the counter. Once cozy, they lay their eggs, which turn into microscopic larvae (maggots).
And what happens to those larvae? You eat them.
If that sounds unappealing to you, then you need to know how to get rid of fruit flies quickly and keep them from coming back.
How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies
Consistency is Key
As with any attempts to get rid of household pests, a lazy approach won’t work. Sure, you might see fewer fruit flies for a couple of days but, if you don’t follow through, they’ll just come back again and again.
So, read through these steps and follow them diligently.
Bait and Kill Fruit Flies with Traps
One of the more natural ways to kill fruit flies is to bait them into a bowl filled with liquid. I’ve used several different kinds of such traps. Here are the three I’ve found most successful.
NOTE: With new eggs hatching daily, you’ll need to keep the traps going and your prevention measures in place for a couple of weeks.
Apple Cider Vinegar Fruit Fly Trap
lA shallow bowl of apple cider vinegar left on the kitchen counter attracts fruit flies with its scent. Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap (or a lid) in which you’ve poked a few holes with a toothpick. The flies will go in, but they won’t come back out. Change the vinegar daily.
Bottle and Funnel Fruit Fly Trap
A bottle with a paper funnel will entice them to fly in, but they won’t easily get out. A half-empty beer or wine bottle works particularly well for this since fruit flies are attracted to those scents.
Use a kitchen funnel or roll a piece of paper to form one and insert the narrow end into the bottle. Tape it in place if needed. Change daily.
Soapy Water Fruit Fly Trap
A bowl of water with just a couple drops of liquid soap left under a light at night will trap both fruit flies and mosquitoes that have found their way into your home. (The light over your stove is perfect for this.)
The light’s reflection on the water will attract fruit flies, but the soap will create a surface tension that prevents them from flying away. Change every morning.
How to Kill Fruit Flies in Drains
Some fruit flies make their home in areas where it’s just not practical to place a trap. Examples include shower drains, bathroom sink drains, toilets, etc.
To get rid of fruit flies in these areas, pour boiling water (or boiling white vinegar) down drains and toilets. Do this daily until you don’t see any more fruit flies in the area, then continue for another day or two.
Also, make sure your drains are clear of hair and other debris that create ideal breeding grounds for these pests. (See How To Clean Stinky Drains.)
How to Keep Fruit Flies Away for Good
Once you’ve done the work to kill fruit flies, keep them from coming back with these preventative measures.
Fruit flies will feast on spilled food, crumbs, spilled juice — just about anything. Wipe your counters at least once a day with a microfiber cloth and homemade all-purpose spray, so they don’t turn into a snack bar for the pests.
Wash Fruit Right Away
Fruit flies piggyback their way into our homes on bananas and melons more than any other fruits. Wash any produce that you plan to leave on the counter in homemade fruit and vegetable wash as soon as you get back from the store to get rid of flies and their eggs.
A fruit bowl on the counter is a great way to encourage your family to eat healthy snacks. If left uncovered, though, it turns into a single’s bar for fruit flies.
If you do leave a bowl of fruit on the counter, cover it with a cake dome, an upturned bowl, or even plastic wrap to keep fruit flies from it.
Deal with Odors Immediately
If it stinks, it attracts fruit flies. Clean your drains, garbage cans, pet bedding, litter boxes, and toilets regularly. Not sure if you’ve gone nose blind? Check out this list of 48 places in your home that can stink.
Repeat Until They’re Gone… And Again.
Remember how female fruit flies lay 100 eggs or more per day? With new eggs hatching every day, you’ll need to be diligent for a couple of weeks about using traps, depriving them of food, and keeping them from favorite breeding places.
Once you’ve stopped seeing fruit flies, keep using your traps and cleaning likely surfaces for another week to make sure there are no larvae waiting to hatch.
Note: This article first appeared July 2013. It has been revised and updated for republication.