17 Ways to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

fruit flies

You aren’t the only one who loves a nice, crisp apple or a fresh plum. Fruit flies love fresh, seasonal produce too, and sometimes they have the nasty habit of making their way into your home or garden before you have a chance to even enjoy your tasty fruit.

Fruit flies, (the genus is called drosophila), are tiny insects that enter uninvited into our gardens and homes to feast on our hard-earned food. Though they’re very common, many people don’t know simple facts about them, such as the fact that they have a lifespan of only 38 to 40 days.

These pests reproduce and multiply quickly; they only take about 8 to 10 days to mature.

A single female fruit fly is all you need to have a major problem on your hands. One fly can lay 500 eggs on the surface of your fruit. Just one fly can invite 500 more into your home, so this should be all the motivation you need to get rid of them quickly.

Fruit flies breed, lay eggs, hatch into larvae, and emerge as adults – usually on your produce. You probably won’t even notice them until the problem has worsened.

The fruit fly problem accentuates in the summer months.

If you’re frustrated by fruit flies and want to protect your garden, in what follows we’ll be looking at some of the best techniques to get rid of them.

Know Your Enemy

Identifying fruit flies should be the first step because there are many different kinds of pests that hover around your garden. These pests can all be similar in appearance, but present different challenges in terms of preventing, controlling, and eliminating them.

Fruit flies can be brown, black or yellow, and are typically 1/10 to ¼ inch in size. They also have sharp red eyes. They tend to be smaller than other flies, and will congregate near fruit, hence the name.

Male and female fruit flies differ in size from one another, but they both have the same black rings around the abdomen.

Knowing Their Breeding Sites

Without removing their breeding sites, there’s no way to permanently get rid of them. You need to make yourself aware of where these flies tend to hang out, and in doing so, you will be able to get rid of them. It is of vital importance to know their breeding sites and take measures to eliminate them.

These are the places where fruit flies love to live:

  • overripe fruits
  • damaged fruits
  • rotting organic matter
  • dead trees
  • trash
  • …and other bad smelling things

Keep in mind flies can be located up to 500 yards (or meters) away from your garden or home, making them difficult to track down.

Eliminating The Breeding Sites

Once you find the source, it’s time to clean the place. You need to remove any fly specks on the walls or ground, because these specks indicate the manner in which fruit flies attract more flies. Use a mixture of borax and water to clean the place.

If you have a trash can in your garden, make sure you thoroughly clean it with bleach. If, for whatever reason, you cannot get rid of the grime, you may need to replace it with a new one. In the future, keep it maintained by cleaning it up every now and then.

Keep an eye out for dead animals or dead plants. They can attract large swarms of fruit flies from far away, since they have a finely attuned sense of smell. Simply put, anything that is in a rotten condition will give off a smell that these flies can pick up from far away. They will be able to trace the smell back to your garden or your home.

Fruit flies are commonly found inside kitchen compost bins. These sites are fruit fly haven, because they offer a place for them to deposit their eggs.

The easiest way to keep them out of your kitchen compost is to invest in a secure container with a tightly-fitting lid. This will prevent the flies from entering the container to lay eggs, and will also prevent newly hatched flies from emerging. You should also empty your bin daily and wash it each time.

Regarding outdoor compost, move your bin as far away from your home as possible. Fruit flies are just as likely to live in outdoor compost bins as they are in indoor ones, so keeping your bin far away from your home and garden will ensure that they don’t begin to occupy either one.

Make sure you are tending properly to your produce, too. Harvest all garden produce as soon as it is ripe, and don’t let it sit in the garden to overripen.

If you’re purchasing produce from somewhere else and bringing it inside, there is no way to tell if it’s already infested with eggs. However, if you refrigerate your fruits and vegetables quickly after purchase or harvest, the flies will hatch and die inside the fridge.

For foods that need to be stored at room temperature, cover them up to prevent adult fruit flies from laying their eggs on them. Any damaged areas on produce, like cracks or tears, are particularly susceptible to fruit fly infestation.

Keeping things clean in the kitchen can help reduce fruit fly infestations. Pour bleach or a natural citrus cleaner down the drain to get rid of an infestation. You should also be vigilant about disposing of wet cleaning rags, and clearing out mops and drains, too. Check your window screens for tears to make sure flies aren’t sneaking inside.

The Best Ways to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Ok, so there are two ways to get rid of fruit flies.

  1. Trapping them
  2. Repelling them

This article will shed light on both of these methods.

fruit fly trap
photo courtesy of Kent K. BarnesFlickr.comCC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Fruit Fly Traps

You can lay various traps for them and prevent them from damaging your fruits.

1) Tumbler Trap

This trap is very easy to make at home as it doesn’t require any costly tools or accessories.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 tumbler
  • Lure (wine, beer, vinegar, etc)
  • Plastic sheet
  • Rubber band
  • Pointy object such as a pin

Take a tumbler or a large container and pour in the lure of your choice (red wine, vinegar).

Wrap the tumbler or the container with the plastic sheet and fasten it with the help of a rubber band so that the plastic does not come off.

Take a pointy object, and start making tiny holes on the surface to provide a passageway for the flies to enter the tumbler and to get themselves trapped inside. Once inside the tumbler, they will ultimately either suffocate or die before they can make their way out.

Here’s a video to help you out:

2) Paper Cone Trap

This trap, too, is very easy to make at home and doesn’t require much in the way of expensive equipment or know-how.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Piece of paper
  • Lure (wine, beer, vinegar, etc)
  • Plastic sheet
  • Rubber band
  • Pointy object such as a pin
  • Large jar

Take a large jar or a container that has a wide mouth.

Find a large sheet of paper and turn it into a cone. Once the cone has been formed, make a small 0.2 inches (0.5 cm) hole at the tip of the cone.

Add the lure into the jar, and put the paper cone inside ensuring that the wider end of the cone stays up, while the pointy end is inside the jar. Make sure that the tip doesn’t touch the lure, but stays a few inches above it.

When the flies will smell the scent of the lure you put in the jar, they will try to enter the paper cone through the hole, and never go back up.

Here’s a video explaining the steps of making a trap:

Once the traps are ready, it’s helpful to know more about the various lures you can add to these traps to catch and get rid of the fruit flies hovering around your garden and home.

Lures

Fruit flies are attracted to overripe fruits and vegetables, and they find these fruits with the help of their olfactory system (sense of smell).

They are typically attracted to acetic acid, which is found in abundance in overripe fruits. Keep this in mind by selecting lures that contain acetic acid. These are exceptionally effective at attracting fruit flies.

These are some of the most effective fruit fly attractants…

3) Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is very popular for use in traps. Plus, it is readily available, and something you likely already have in your home, making it a good choice for use in a fly trap.

How To Make

Take a container and add 1½ cup of apple vinegar and 4-5 drops of dish soap to it.

When you add the dish soap, it helps to break the surface tension of the vinegar and forces flies to sink in deep once they sit on top of it.

To make the solution more effective, heat it for a few seconds. Vinegar contains diluted acetic acid and when it is heated, its concentration increases, producing even more fragrance and attracting even more flies.

Now, laying a single trap in your garden won’t do much good. You need to lay traps according to the size of your garden. For a small sized garden, laying four or five traps is sufficient. You can increase the number of traps if you have a bigger garden.

4) Red Wine and Beer

Humans aren’t the only beings attracted to wine – flies love it, too.

How To Make

Take a container and pour half a cup of red wine or beer and add a few drops of dish soap (3 drops). Mix thoroughly and pour the mixture in any of the traps mentioned above.

It’s not a rule set in stone to use red wine, you can use any wine including: rose, white or fortified wine. However, red wine seems to work best.

5) Rotten Fruit

As mentioned earlier, fruit flies love rotten fruits. If you have some lying around, you can use them to lure these flies into a trap.

How To Make

Take any rotten fruit and cut it into several slices.

Place two or more slices in a tumbler trap.

You can make several of these traps and place them around the fruits and on the boundary of your garden so that the flies get trapped as soon as they enter into your garden.

banana peel

6) Banana Peels

Fresh banana peels work like a charm when it comes to attracting flies and (other insects as well).

Setting them inside several tumbler traps will help attract a lot of flies and trap them there for good.

Another benefit of using banana peels is that if you leave them in these traps for more than three or four days, they will turn black and repel flies instead of attracting them.

7) Yeast

Since yeast is a fermented food, it’s a great way to attract fruit flies. Here’s how you can add yeast to a trap…

How To Make

  1. Take a container, preferably a glass one so that you can see inside.
  2. Sprinkle some dry yeast inside it.
  3. Add a tablespoon sugar to enhance the effects of the yeast.
  4. Mix the contents well, then sprinkle it around the fruit perimeter.

A word of caution: you need to make sure that you discard the yeast after 24 hours or else it can turn into a breeding site for flies, and cause you more problems.

8) Ground Pepper And Milk

This trick was used during old times, but it is still very effective.

How To Make

  1. Add one cup of milk to a container and include four tablespoons of sugar.
  2. Take a tablespoon of ground pepper and mix it into the liquid. Stir well.
  3. Heat the solution for 6 minutes to increase its effectiveness.
  4. Pour in the trap while hot, and watch how the container gets filled with fruit flies.

Killing Fruit Flies

9) Using Alcohol

You trapped the fruit flies in the containers, but they are still there and can escape, too, if your trap isn’t strong enough. While they usually succumb to death by drowning or suffocation, some may still be able to get out.

This is where alcohol can help you out, and put these fruit flies out of their miseries (and yours!) once and for all.

Simply take the alcohol, and pour it inside the container where the fruit flies are trapped.

10) Using Fly Paper

Fly paper is sticky in nature and very effective at trapping flies as soon as they step foot on it. Once the flies are stuck to the paper, the poisonous layer of the fly paper does its work and kills the fly right there and then.

11) Electric Fly Zappers

These devices can be hung around your home or your garden. They run on electricity, and use bright lights to attract and then kill flies with electronic rods. Although they are incredibly effective at killing flies, they can also kill other beneficial insects.

Repellents

If you don’t like the idea of trapping and killing fruit flies, you can simply ward them off with a number of fruit fly repellents. We have discussed some of the most effective ones below:

12) Lemongrass Oil

Lemongrass is a plant that bears a scent similar to – you guessed it – lemons.

The oil of this plant has fly repellent properties that can help in warding off fruit flies instantly. Another benefit of using this oil is that it has aromatic properties and can give your garden a fresh and refreshing smell.

You can either plant lemongrass plants around or within your garden, make lemongrass essential oil in your own kitchen (by boiling down leaves and extracting the essence via steam distillation), or purchase it.

  1. Mix 20-25 drops lemongrass oil, and mix it in ½ cup of hot water.
  2. Pour the liquid in a spray bottle, and use it around the area where fruit flies are present.
  3. If you can’t get lemongrass oil, eucalyptus or citronella oil can also be used, but of course they won’t be as effective as lemongrass oil.

13) Vodka And Aloe Vera Juice

Flies absolutely hate the smell of vodka, making it exceptionally useful as a repellant. You can enhance its effects by mixing it with aloe vera juice and eucalyptus oil.

How To Make

Take a container and pour one cup of vodka in it. Add two tablespoons of aloe vera juice along with one tablespoon of lemon eucalyptus oil. Mix them well in a spray bottle, and you’re good to go.

14) Cedar Wood

Fruit flies hate the smell of cedar. Placing some in the garden or in your home can help keep both your garden and your home fly-free. However, they work slowly, so it may be a while before you see any results.

15) Lemon and Cloves

Another great way to repel fruit flies is to find a few lemons, cut them in half and poke six to ten cloves inside each of them.

Place these clove-riddled lemons at multiple places in your garden and your home to repel flies right away.

Top Fruit Fly Eliminating Products

While there are many products on the market that claim to end the fruit fly problem, only some are found to be effective. Here’s a short list of the ones that work best…

16) GreenWay Fruit Fly Trap

If you want something without insecticide, consider this option. This trap works like a charm and is also durable, unlike many similar products on the market.

It only takes a day or two to eliminate a large number of fruit flies. If you have a big garden, you can obviously get more of these traps.

Activating this trap is super easy. Remove the top cap and let the liquid inside do its job.

17) BEAPCO Fruit Fly Trap

When this brand was compared to other competitors, it reigns supreme because it can trap twice the amount of fruit flies than its competitors.

Each pack lasts for 30 days, meaning a complete package will last for 180 days since there are six packs in a single package.

Using a pack is super easy. All the traps are clearly visible and you can see through them to make sure that they are working. You can combine these with the homemade traps for maximum effectiveness.

You can use any of the homemade traps that we mentioned in the beginning of the article. However, ensure that you replace each pack after 30 days.

17) TERRO Fruit Fly Trap

This not only traps the flies but also prevents them from multiplying and breeding. The package contains two packs and each one lasts for 30 days.

This trap is extremely popular, and works well with your garden’s or your home’s as it has a cool and attractive apple shape.

Can You or Should You Use Insecticides to Kill Fruit Flies?

Using a fruit fly spray can kill most fruit flies within the perimeter. Different sprays have different ranges and intensity. However, using insecticides is not recommended since it can damage the fruit yield as well.

These are generally not safe to use around pets or humans, either, and can also kill off beneficial insects that you actually want around the garden.

The Verdict

Keep in mind that repelling fruit flies may provide you peace of mind – but not for good. Fruit flies have the nasty habit of returning year after year. Make sure you kill all these flies to eliminate the problem, or keep one or more repellents around just in case.

getting rid of fruit flies pinterest

Michael Wight
About Michael Wight 13 Articles
Michael is in love with nature and loves to spend his weekends with his pet dog at his farm where he grows organic fruits and vegetables. He's a single parent who loves the idea of simple living.

2 Comments

  1. I spray 3% peroxyde on the soil, avoiding the leaves. It kills the eggs of the fruit flies. There is always some flies left, though so I will use the vinegar trick. THank you!

  2. Good advice. Thanks.

    One takeaway: don’t put it off…at least get those repellents ready…especially the spray bottle, so easy to assemble (though maybe a waste of good vodka). These are “preps”, so the sooner we prepare for the “battle of the bugs” the better…whatever you decide to do to, move that prep to the top of your to-do list. Don’t let time get away from you…

    As Groucho Marx observed, “Time flies like an arrow…fruit flies like a banana.”

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