Fruit flies are the annoyance of any homeowner. Here’s how to get rid of them for good.
One of the most common household pests is the fruit fly. It can seem like no matter what steps you take, there’s always one buzzing around. Aside from being a nuisance, they can carry dangerous bacteria which, if left on uneaten food, could easily get you sick.
Getting rid of fruit flies requires a multipronged approach. With a variety of products, good prevention habits and making basic changes around your kitchen, you can keep the fruit fly population down.
What are fruit flies
Fruit flies, according to the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the University of Kentucky, are simply a species of fly that’s primarily attracted to the organic material in fermented fruit, rotting produce and left over food in garbage disposals and even dish rags.
Adult fruit flies are typically about ⅛-inch long. Notably, they have distinctive red eyes and a two-toned body. The front is tan and the rear is black.
The tricky part about eradicating a fruit fly infestation has to do with their reproduction. They typically choose to lay their eggs near the surface of whichever fermented fruit or moist organic material is attracting them. This could also be areas you aren’t thinking about, like dirty dish rags, drains, open trash, disposals and mops.
When fruit flies lay eggs, they don’t hold back. A single adult female fruit fly can lay up to 500 eggs in one sitting. Each egg has the potential to grow into another fruit fly. Once those flies reach their adult stage, every single female will lay an additional 500 eggs. And thus, a fruit fly infestation becomes unmanageable.
What leads to infestation
There are few key reasons you may experience an infestation. As their name would suggest, fruit flies love fruit. But they love fruit at a specific stage: overripe. Anything from a banana a few days past its prime to full-blown fermented fruit is a huge attractor for fruit flies. Another attractor is rotting produce. Because fruit flies love moist organic material, a soft, rotting head of lettuce could easily bring them.
An attractor many people forget about is their kitchen sink. The drain where you wash away the remains from your food, if left uncleaned, will quickly ferment and the organic material left will rot. This creates an ideal setting for fruit flies to lay hold. Similarly, garbage left out too long will also eventually attract flies.
Interestingly, fruit flies also have a guilty pleasure: yeast. They love the yeast in your baked goods. If you leave them uncovered for too long, you may start to see a couple freeloading fruit flies coming to settle in.
A final factor influencing your fruit fly infestation could be the season. Fruit flies are typically at their worst in the late summer and fall. Coincidentally, this is a season when most people leave an aging and rotting gourd on their porch.
Preventing fruit flies
The best way to avoid a fruit fly infestation is by taking preventive measures. By implementing preventive measures in the first place, you’ll greatly reduce the chances of an infestation that you eventually have to treat with pest control products. And by keeping the infestation down, it’ll make it easier to remediate the few that slip by.
According to Arrow Exterminators, the first thing you should do is remove the obvious attracters. If your produce ripens, eat it before it goes bad. If you aren’t able to, dispose of it immediately. You should also get into the practice of keeping your produce in your fridge. While some things don’t require refrigeration, it provides an added layer of defense against the fruit flies. Finally, double-check your windows and doors are tightly fitted and replace any damaged pieces.
Options for fixing an infestation
So, a few fruit flies got past your strict prevention methods. It happens to the most responsible homeowner. The next course of action is to obliterate them. But first, you have to decide which tool you want to use.
Sticky fly paper
Sticky fly paper is one of the basic and affordable ways to kill fruit flies, but it isn’t a guarantee. Insect Cop explains fly paper is composed of a piece of paper covered in adhesive and an attractant. Some brands include a dose of poison on their fly paper.
When the flies become interested in the attractant, they will attempt to land on the paper. The adhesive locks them in place and they slowly starve to death, unless the paper has a poison incorporated in the coating, which kills the flies faster.
This is a reasonable method to capture and kill fruit flies, but it relies on them falling for the attractant and landing on the paper. However, it’s an affordable option that allows you to place sticky paper in multiple locations around your home. Because there’s a chance of insecticide being in the coating, be sure to wash your hands after handling sticky paper.
Fly traps are arguably the most popular method of getting rid of fruit flies. Typically they use a vessel filled with some kind of attractant and sometimes insecticide. Once the flies are in the vessel, they become trapped. There are three main types of fly traps: outdoor traps, indoor traps and UV traps.
Outdoor-use fly traps work best in your outdoor spaces, like the garage or patio. Generally, these traps have a larger capacity to handle larger outdoor infestations. Depending on the brand you get, your outdoor-use trap could be reusable. Most rely on a liquid chemical that you add to the trap. These can be messy but they have proved to be effective at attracting and killing fruit flies.
Indoor traps use a similar chemical as outdoor-use traps, however these are formulated to be odorless and safe, making them a much better option for use in the home, especially if you have pets or kids. Some also feature a light that attracts the flies to the vessel. Inside the vessel, there may be a sticky surface for better chances of trapping the flies.
Many indoor traps are reusable, though most of them require you to replace the internal stick strip at some point. Some internal traps use a chemical bait to lure the flies into the funnel of the vessel. Once inside, they are trapped and die. Because of this, you’ll need to clean this style of trap every few days or you’ll have a mountain of fruit fly carcasses.
Finally, there are UV fly traps. If you have a high concentration of fruit flies in an area, consider using one of these. The UV light is what attracts the flies. Once they land on the machine, it will give them a jolt of electricity that kills them. These can be used either indoors or outdoors and come in a variety of sizes.
Sprays and chemicals
Generally, when speaking about sprays and chemicals used to kill fruit flies, these are insecticides that often have pyrethrin as the killing agent. This isn’t meant to be a spot treatment to kill individual flies. Instead, you would use a chemical agent to treat a breeding site. For example, there are drain treatments with pyrethrin meant to kill any fruit fly breeding sites within the drain.
What you need to buy for getting rid of fruit flies
This is one of the most celebrated fruit fly remedies. It’s a fast-acting trap that works well when placed near a breeding site. It has a nonstaining lure, making it an excellent choice for indoor infestations. And keeping an eye on the level of the lure is easy with the built-in window.
Able to eradicate fruit flies without harsh chemicals, this is a favorite option for those afflicted with fruit flies. Set up is a breeze: simply open the top, place it near the breeding site and change the bottle every 30 days. There’s also a spray version many users like.
While the Katchy is definitely a pricier remedy to your fruit fly issue, it consistently comes up on the best-of lists because it works. It traps flies using three methods: UV light to attract them, a fan to suck them in and sticky glue board to hold them.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Using time-controlled vapor technology, this product is an especially effective way to control and prevent infestation. It’s so powerful, it’ll also kill things like earwigs, spiders, mosquitoes and even cockroaches.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Formulated specifically to be used as a fruit fly treatment for your drains, this is a must-have if you’re struggling with an infestation. It has a noncorrosive formula that won’t harm your pipes and it’s easy to use: just pour it down the drain.
These are by far the most simple, straightforward fly traps on the market. They’re also super low-maintenance. Nontoxic and chemical free, they rely on a vinegar-based solution to lure and trap the flies.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Simple but effective, these bright yellow sticky fly traps are great for everything from fungus gnats in your houseplants to fruit flies in your drain. Simply peel them and stick them in a potted plant near where the breeding site is. Then, wait for the flies to come to you.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
The beauty of this fly trap is the design. While most integrate garish yellow paper or bright, obvious colors, you could set this fly trap on your counter and no one would be the wiser. All you have to do is fill it with an apple cider vinegar mixture and you’re done.
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Kasey Van Dyke writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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