The Ultimate Guide to Getting Rid of Fruit Flies

Tips from The Kitchn

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Are fruit flies a plague in your kitchen? With late summer heat, plus abundant ripe stone fruit, juicy tomatoes, and sticky cherries and grapes, tiny fruit flies can be an outsized plague. Fortunately there are many ways to banish them from your kitchen, even before the first frost arrives. Here are all our best tips and tricks to go fruit fly-free!

Fruit Fly 101: Know Your Enemy

But first, what are these pesky little gnats that float in front of your face and alight in clouds on your fresh fruit?

Fruit flies are tiny, quick-reproducing flies that either sneak into your house right on your fruits and vegetables, or flit in through minuscule window cracks and screens. Since they can grow from egg to adult in just over a week, fruit flies quickly set up well-established families in your kitchen and feed off any fermenting fruit they can find.

How Do You Prevent Fruit Flies?

Unlike other, larger, pests, it's tough to fight fruit flies by exclusion. They are so tiny and so prevalent in store-bought fruit that it's quite likely you'll deal with an infestation at some point in warm weather or stone fruit season. They die off when the cold comes, but if you live in a warm climate (or just can't handle the little annoyances) and want to banish them, you'll need to rely primarily on fly traps.

Having said that, I do find that fruit flies are diminished when I keep the sink and counters clean of any drips of juice or scraps of vegetable peelings, and when I take out the trash regularly. We also eat up the fruit bowl quickly and don't leave fruit sitting out for long. Don't give them anything at all to eat — no mostly-empty wine bottles or beer cans in an open recycling container, for instance.

2 Natural Deterrents for Fruit Flies

However, besides general cleanliness, there are some natural deterrents for fruit flies. We've posted positive reports on two natural spice and herb solutions that keep the population at bay.

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How Do You Get Rid of Fruit Flies?

But let's say it's a little late for deterrents. You have fruit flies and you want to banish them.

The easiest, cheapest way to do it is with a homemade fruit fly trap, made with something sweet or attractive to fruit flies (remember, they're drawn to fermenting fruit). Vinegar, beer, or wine all do the trick. Pour it into a container that will attract the flies but make it tough for them to get back out. A jar with a lid with a few small holes is ideal. Set out in your kitchen, and watch the flies fall in and clean when it gets full (ewwww).

Homemade Fruit Fly Traps

More Good Advice on Fruit Flies

We've run several good threads of advice from our readers on getting rid of fruit flies and avoiding them to begin with. Lots of practical wisdom here! Got any more to add?

(Image credits: Vintage 1941 Minimilistic Fly Science Chart at Old New House; Anjali Prasertong)

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