How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Fruit flies are one of the most common house pests across the country and can be incredibly damaging to the comfort of your home when they grow into an infestation. Though they may not bite or evoke too much terror when spotted, fruit flies do carry bacteria from place to place, threatening the safety of your food and kitchen.

Fruit flies are easy to mix up with some other common minuscule house pests, like drain flies or fungus gnats. Knowing which one is plaguing your living space can help you get to the heart of what is attracting them and how to eliminate the problem quickly and efficiently. 

Luckily, there are many DIY ways to get rid of fruit flies. However, a professional may be necessary if you have a larger infestation or seek the peace of mind that your fruit flies are gone for good. We’ll cover how to identify fruit flies, the dangers and behaviors of these persistent creatures, and most importantly, how to get rid of them. 

How to Identify a Fruit Fly

Small flies throughout your home feed on a series of different things—ranging from the buildup inside drains to the decaying apple on the counter. Fruit flies tend to appear when access to food is prevalent, either uncovered on a counter or from exposed garbage. However, there are a few similar culprits that can throw you off course.

Fruit Fly Facts

  • Can grow up to one-eighth of an inch long
  • Typically have yellow or brown bodies
  • Have large red eyes
  • Enjoy decaying fruits and vegetables
  • Tend to appear around the late summer or early fall
  • Take 1-2 weeks to reach adulthood
  • Can live up to 60 days

Drain Flies Facts

  • Can also grow up to one-eighth of an inch long
  • Have moth-like wings that cover most of their body which are covered in long hairs
  • Congregate around drains, showers, sinks, and basements
  • Typically pale gray to tan

Fungus Gnats

  • Can be as small as one-sixteenth of an inch
  • Hover around decaying plant material, just as overwatered plans
  • Thrive in moist areas
  • Have longer legs than fruit flies, much like mosquitoes

While fruit flies tend to attack your fruit and vegetables, drain flies and fungus gnats have a different goal. Fungus gnats feed off of decaying organic matter in drains, sinks, and pipes while fungus gnats prefer your plants as they start to decay. Be sure to check which type of pest you’re dealing with so you know how to handle the infestation.

What Attracts Fruit Flies in Your Home

Though the fruit bowl is the obvious target that comes to mind when wondering what attracts fruit flies, the flies will seek out food in far more sneaky places as well. Anywhere that decaying plant material has traveled is a primate target. This may include:

  • Mops, brooms, and cleaning buckets
  • Sticky counters and floors
  • Fallen food behind appliances
  • Garbage cans
  • Uncovered sweets and desserts
  • Open food in refrigerators

Fruit flies not only seek out these hot spots for food, but they also lay their eggs there as well. The longer the decaying fruit lives out in the open, the more likely a fruit fly can spark an infestation.

The Life Cycle of a Fruit Fly

Just like any pest in your home that you’re hoping to manage, a fruit fly’s breeding and life cycle can help you get to the bottom of why fruit flies keep coming back even when you keep a clean home.

Despite the popular idea that fruit flies only live a few days, they can actually stick around for up to two months. It takes up to two weeks for eggs to develop into fully adult fruit flies.

Fruit Fly Reproduction

A fruit fly’s ability to multiply quickly is the main reason you can go from having a small nuisance to a major issue in your home when it’s left unchecked. Each female fruit fly can lay up to 500 eggs each once impregnated.

Fruit flies lay their eggs in decaying fruit, which is often difficult to see without a very close look. In just over a day, the eggs can hatch into the larvae stage. Once each of these new larvae grow into adults—in as little as eight days—fruit flies can begin the mating process. 

Seasons for Fruit Flies

Fruit flies love warm, humid times of the year, so you’re more likely to deal with an infestation during the late summer and early fall. However, if you live in an area where temperatures breach 60 degrees most of the year, you could have fruit fly issues year-round.

Fruit flies do not die off in the winter—after all, they can even survive at times in your fridge—but they will not reproduce or travel as quickly. Below 53 degrees, entomologists find that fruit flies will stop reproducing. However, this does mean that they may be more likely to reproduce in your home for warmth and protection.

In short, you can get fruit flies in your home any time of year, so it’s important to stay vigilant about their food supply.

The Dangers of Fruit Flies

Fruit flies may seem harmless, especially in small numbers. After all, they are not known for carrying diseases like ticks or mosquitoes and they do not bite humans.

However, fruit flies travel and move around quite often. This means that they can carry dangerous bacteria like listeria, salmonella, and E. Coli to our food. In large enough amounts, each of these types of bacteria can cause serious health issues in humans and animals, even leading to hospitalization.

It is always recommended that you wash and examine fruit before eating it, especially if it has been left out on the counter when there were fruit flies nearby. 

Their danger also lies in their rate of reproduction. Fruit fly infestations should not be ignored, even if you have a small gathering of the flies at the end of each summer. Larger pests, like ants, beetles, and wasps also eat fruit flies. Therefore, an infestation could be the catalyst for larger pest problems.

How to Naturally Get Rid of Fruit Flies

One upside to their pesky creatures is that they are often manageable with common items sitting around your home. Even if you have a larger infestation of fruit flies, you may be more likely to keep the problem at bay until you can have a professional come and fully eradicate your problem. Here are a few common tactics for getting rid of fruit flies without interacting with insecticides:

Old Beer Bottle

An old bottle of fermented beer has the perfect shape and contents to attract and trap fruit flies. Empty out half of the old beer and leave it in an area where you’ve experienced recent issues with fruit flies. The flies should go down the neck of the bottle to get to the beer but not be able to get out as easily.

Apple Cider Vinegar + The Cone Trick

Fill a glass jar or mug with a mixture of apple cider vinegar and water. Next, roll up a piece of paper into a cone shape so that there is a very small opening on one and a wide-open entrance on the other. Tape the cone closed and place it in your container, ensuring that the tip of the cone does not touch the liquid.

The fruit flies will seek out the sweet vinegar, enter through the small opening of the cone and then not be able to leave.

Apple Cider Vinegar + Dish Soap

In the same theme, mix water, apple cider vinegar, and a bit of natural dish soap in a bowl. In this case, you do not need to add a paper cone to control the fruit flies’ escape. Flies will get stuck in the thickness of the solution and drown in the bowl.

Container + Plastic Wrap

Adapt any of the methods above with a bowl and a bit of plastic wrap. For example, pour apple cider vinegar or a bit of old beer into the bottom of a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and secure with a rubber band. Punch small holes downwards into the plastic, allowing the fruit flies to get it but no escape.

Store-Bought Fruit Fly Traps and Poisons

If you need to get rid of fruit flies quickly without the extra work, there are several trusted fruit fly traps that work in similar ways as the natural methods.

TERRO Fly Traps

These small plastic fly traps work very similarly to the ones listed above, but it comes in nice shape and design so you can display it on your counter. This a great year-round method if you’re concerned about preventing possible infestations before they start.

FlyPunch

This small plastic jar is already built in a way that will lure in fruit flies but keep them from leaving. The sweet solution inside is said to have a powerful effect in attracting and trapping large amounts of fruit flies in one day.

Green Gobbler Fruit Fly Killer

This pipe and drain killer is said to go after fruit flies, drain flies, and sewer flies all at once. If you’ve found fruit flies nesting in the entrance to your kitchen sink, especially if there is often food residue in the strainer, this is a great option to nip the infestation in the bud.

How to Prevent Fruit Flies

Fruit flies may be quick to reproduce, but they also have very short lifespans. This makes it a bit easier to find and eliminate their nests while preventing any future arrivals.

It isn’t difficult to end up with a fruit fly problem, even if you are quick and thorough with your cleanup. The smallest crumbs or pieces of food from dinner prep can fall behind something and attract these clever pests. However, there are some major changes you can make to your home to cut out the chances of fruit fly issues.

Nix the Fruit Bowl

As beautiful as a fruit display can be in the kitchen or dining room, even new produce can bring fruit flies in from the store or farmer’s market. Fruit flies hone in on pieces of produce that are only beginning to break down, meaning that a perfect looking apple may still have a small patch starting to go south.

Wash Your Fruit and Vegetables

Always give fresh produce a good rinse both when they get home from the store and before you eat them. Fruit flies can burrow and lay nests in the smallest cracks in your food, potentially leading to contamination.

Wipe Up After Cooking

Whenever you prepare food out of the fridge or pantry, wipe down the counter with a cleaning spray, ensuring that you caught even the smallest hint of a sticky surface. Keep all crumbs and fallen ingredients off the floor by frequently vacuuming and mopping, but be sure to keep the mop just as clean and dry before putting it back into storage.

Check Your Screens

Fruit flies can get through small cracks or holes in your window screens or doors. They can also travel in through the produce itself, but they are more likely to come from the outdoors when they detect food and shelter with an easy access point.

How Professionals Stop Fruit Flies

A professional exterminator is always the sure way to stop fruit flies in their tracks for good. Terminix offers local professional help to get rid of fruit flies and keep them from coming back. 

Their trained team is made up of attentive experts, many of which have earned degrees in entomology to help you get to the bottom of the infestation. Each of our customers receives a customized extermination plan that includes:

  • Free consultation
  • Thorough inspection
  • Quick and effective treatment
  • Ongoing inspections

For the extent of your contract, the Terminix team guarantees that they will keep fruit flies at bay. They will also look at your home with the eye of a professional, ensuring that your perimeter remains safe from both fruit flies and an ample list of common home pests that can disrupt the comfort of your home.

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