There comes a time in every cook’s life when they need to figure out how to get rid of fruit flies. These tiny red-eyed gnats often appear out of nowhere, and they seldom travel alone. If you don’t act quickly, you’ll soon find yourself sharing the contents of your fruit bowl with hundreds of unwanted visitors and fighting to take back control of your kitchen countertops.
Found yourself with a fruit fly infestation? Don’t dial pest control just yet. There are many easy ways to get rid of fruit flies, including DIY traps and store-bought solutions. If you’re diligent about following these tips, you should be able to squash your fruit fly problem without any professional help.
What causes a fruit fly infestation?
To get to the root of the problem, you must understand why the fruit flies have invaded your home in the first place. These pesky little bugs typically hitch a ride into your house via fruits and veggies purchased at the grocery store or farmers market. Washing produce thoroughly can help get rid of adult flies, but there’s no easy way to tell if they’ve already laid eggs in your food. And if they find an adequate food source in your kitchen, they’re more than happy to set up camp.
Once in your home, fruit flies will seek out ripe fruit and vegetables—as well as other rotting material, like trash—where they can lay their eggs. Fruit fly larvae typically hatch within a day or two, and spend the next week chowing down on ripened fruits. Within a week or so, they’ll be full-grown adult fruit flies who will then lay their eggs. This rapid life cycle is why getting rid of fruit flies can be so tricky.
But first: Are they actually fruit flies?
Of course, there’s a chance the gnats you see flying around aren’t fruit flies at all. Fruit flies are small brown bugs with red eyes, but they’re easy to confuse with fungus gnats or drain flies.
Fungus gnats are black and more commonly found milling around the soil of houseplants, as this is where they lay eggs. Drain flies, on the other hand, are typically found around sink drains (surprise!) or garbage disposals, and they have larger V-shaped wings—they almost look like tiny moths. You’ll need to clean their respective hangout spaces to prevent fungus gnats or drain flies from laying eggs, but the same types of traps often work on these pests.
How to get rid of fruit flies:
The first step to getting rid of fruit flies is removing any ripe or rotten food where they might have laid eggs, which means throwing away anything sitting on your kitchen counter. It might seem like a waste, but fruit fly larvae tunnel into produce to feed—so do you really want to eat that apple? Until you’ve successfully vanquished the bugs, thoroughly wash any new produce you bring home and store it in the fridge.
Fruit flies may also use your trash can as a breeding ground, especially when there’s rotting food inside, so you may want to take the garbage out more frequently. You’ll also want to flush your garbage disposal: Grind a handful of ice cubes to dislodge any stuck-on foods, then rinse with hot water. Regularly wipe down counters to ensure the flies don’t find any food remnants, and generally keep your kitchen as clean as possible for at least a week to prevent female fruit flies from laying more eggs.
Cleaning your kitchen will stop fruit flies from reproducing, but you’ll probably want to get rid of the bugs buzzing around your home too. (You could just wait for them to die off, but they can live for two weeks or longer in the right conditions.) One of the best ways to do this is with a DIY fruit fly trap that you can make using pantry staples.
Pour apple cider vinegar (ACV) into a small bowl, then mix in a few drops of dish soap. Apple cider vinegar works better than white vinegar for fruit flies because it smells like fermenting fruit. Red wine vinegar will also work, but it tends to be more expensive than ACV. Microwave the mixture for 20 seconds or so to enhance the smell of the vinegar, then place the bowl in an area with a lot of flies. The scent will draw the bugs in, and because the dish soap reduces the surface tension of the liquid, they’ll get stuck and drown. You’ll start to see results in just a few hours. Dump and refresh the solution when it starts to get saturated with dead flies.
Another popular DIY option is trapping the flies in a bottle—a beer, fruit juice, or wine bottle with just the dregs left works perfectly. Put plastic wrap over the bottle’s opening, secure it in place with a rubber band, then poke a few small holes in the top. Once the flies climb in, lured to the sweet scent of fermenting grapes, they’ll be stuck and eventually die.
If you don’t want to use a vinegar trap or other DIY solution, there are fruit fly traps you can buy online or from home improvement stores. For instance, the TERRO Fruit Fly Trap comes with a liquid that you pour into the apple-shaped trap, and as the scent lures in the bugs, they then drown. Flypunch is a similar option—it comes in a container that resembles a spice jar, and you simply flip the lid open and place it near the bugs.
How do you get rid of fruit flies in 5 minutes?
It would be nice if you could banish fruit flies in just a few minutes, but unfortunately, it will take longer than that to eliminate an infestation. You can kill the flies you can see the analog way, using a fly swatter with a fine-mesh surface—or by spraying them with isopropyl alcohol. However, as a long-term solution, you’ll also want to clean your kitchen and remove any overripe fruit or vegetables where the bugs could lay eggs.
How do you get rid of fruit flies overnight?
To capture fruit flies at night, you may want to invest in an insect trap like Katchy. This device has a light that will draw flies toward it in the dark. The bugs are then sucked into the trap by the unit’s fan and get stuck to the sticky paper at the bottom of the trap. In the morning, you can simply throw away the paper and replace it with a fresh one. Note that this won’t miraculously solve the problem in a single evening—as noted above, you’ll still likely want to clean your kitchen—but in a multipronged approach, this can be a useful tool in getting rid of fruit flies once and for all.