How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in Your Home
When that familiar swarm of tiny flies starts to hover over your fruit bowl in the summer, you may not even think of them as a pest infestation. Fruit flies are so common in homes that it’s easy to see them as a necessary evil. With the proper precautions, however, it can be easy to get rid of fruit flies quickly and keep them away for good.
One of the first tricky steps of tackling a fruit fly infestation is identifying them correctly in the first place. Fruit flies look like many other similar insects such as gnats and drain flies, but these creatures have a very particular diet, environment, and means of reproducing.
In this guide, we’ll go through all the ways to stop fruit flies in their tracks as well as how to prevent them entering your home in the first place. In addition to all the popular DIY fruit fly repellents, professional pest control may be the quickest way to eliminate large infestations. We’ll cover your options for both as well as the best ways to keep them outside in the long run.
Your Fruit Fly Quick Guide
How do you know if you have a fruit fly infestation in your home? It all begins with recognizing the issue early and understanding how they got inside in the first place. Here are some quick and important facts to know about fruit flies.
They Have a Distinct Appearance
Fruit flies may be small, but they are unique in appearance compared to other small flying insects in your home.
In general, fruit flies have tan or yellowish bodies with two red eyes. In some cases, fruit flies can be darker, even appearing as black. They only grow up to around ⅛ of an inch when they are fully grown adults. Larvae, on the other hand, appear as small white worms, often too small to see with the human eye.
They Go After Decaying Food
You don’t need to have a bowl of rotting fruit on the counter to attract a swarm. Even as produce begins to get overripe—often without our knowledge—fruit flies will attach themselves to food both in stores and in our homes if they can make it indoors.
Fruit flies can find decaying particles of food in far more places than just your actual fruit bowls, however. They can feed off of the smallest crumbs and sticky surfaces, including:
- Unclean counters
- Mops and brooms
- Garbage cans
- Drain strainers
- Cleaning buckets
They Tend to Be Seasonal
Luckily for us, fruit flies only tend to flourish in warmer weather. Once the temperature drops below 53 degrees Fahrenheit, they are often unable to breed. This is why you’re far more likely to spot a swarm in your kitchen around late spring, summer, and early fall. If you live in a warmer climate, fruit flies may be a year-round issue.
They Reproduce Quickly
How do those few fruit flies around your garbage become hundreds? Fruit flies reproduce quickly and in vast numbers. After mating, a female fruit fly can even lay up to 500 eggs.
In many scenarios, fruit flies will lay their eggs in the place where they dine—especially rotting fruit and vegetables left out on the counter. In just over a week, these eggs will hatch and larvae will enter the adult stage, ready to mate and continue to grow the infestation.
Commonly Asked Fruit Fly Questions
Fruit flies can be confusing and often-misunderstood creatures, which makes them even more difficult to control. If you know enough about their behaviors, risks, and eating habits, it can be easier to get ahead of any issues before you have to bring in more advanced pest control methods.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about fruit flies and how to get rid of them.
How Long do Fruit Flies Live?
It’s a common myth that fruit flies only live 24 hours. This is particularly deceiving since it can make it seem like the issue will go away on its own. Fruit flies can actually survive up to two months, on average between 40 and 50 days.
During this time, fruit flies can multiply many times, laying hundreds of eggs and seeking out multiple places to set up long-term homes. In other words, fruit flies can thrive in your home in just a few days, so it’s important to address the issue early.
Do Fruit Flies Only Eat Fruit?
Despite their names, fruit flies eat far more than the sweet nectar of fruit. Outdoors, they eat the sweet nectar on leaves and flowers, even those created by other insects like aphids.
Indoors, they are particularly attracted to fermented foods including rotting fruits and vegetables, alcoholic beverages, and even the decaying food left in sinks and drains.
How Did I Get a Fruit Fly Infestation?
One of the most common ways that fruit flies come into your home is with your groceries. Fruit flies will attach themselves to produce at the store and then take over once they’re in your kitchen.
This will often go unnoticed since the flies may even simply lay their eggs inside the fruit at the store and hatch once they get to your home—even if they are put in the fridge. For this reason, it is always recommended that you wash your produce before putting it away.
Fruit flies are also excellent at breaking into your home, like through the small cracks or rips in your screens or any opening in the seals of your home.
Are Fruit Flies Dangerous?
Fruit flies cannot bite or sting humans, unlike some other very small flying insects. They are also not parasitic, so you do not need to worry about them coming after your blood like mosquitoes or bed bugs.
The largest threat fruit flies pose is their ability to carry bacteria from unclean areas like where you do food prep or your garbage to the food you consume. Listeria, E. Coli, and Salmonella are quite common on fruit flies, even in small numbers.
While it’s rare to get sick from this amount of bacteria, a large enough fruit infestation increases your chances of feeling ill. Always wash fruit and vegetables before eating them, even if they were washed after coming home from the store.
What Are The Differences Between Fruit Flies and Fungus Gnats?
Fungus gnats go after the decaying organic materials from plants and soil, which is why they often congregate around houseplants and gardens. It can be easy to accidentally bring them indoors when the weather gets cold, however.
Fungus gnats may look a bit like fruit flies, but often have much darker bodies and long dangling legs.
To control fungus gnats, it’s important to examine and remove rotting plant material from your home, as opposed to focusing on exposed food.
What Are The Differences Between Fruit Flies and Drain Flies?
It is not uncommon to also mix fruit flies up with drain flies. These very small insects that also come indoors for decaying material, but instead target organic substances in showers, bathrooms, work drains, and other areas of standing water.
Drain flies most distinctly look like small moths. Though they are much smaller, you can tell them apart from fruit flies by their set of round, moth-like wings.
Get rid of drain flies by paying closer attention to the cleanliness of your pipes, bathroom, and kitchen plumbing.
How to Prevent Fruit Flies in Your Home
Fruit flies can be kept out for good, even when they sneak inside in unexpected ways like at the grocery store. By changing a few of your daily habits, you can create an inhospitable home for fruit flies as well as a plan to keep them out should they arrive anyway.
Keep Food Sealed
As beautiful as the fruit bowl may look, avoid leaving any open food out in the open for fruit flies to land and nest. Food in your pantry and in your fridge should be kept in sealed containers, bags, or drawers to avoid fruit flies from spreading if eggs did make it in from the grocery store.
You can also purchase special covers for fruit bowls and certain desserts that remain out of the fridge, but avoid this method in the high fruit-fly season.
Clean Out Wine and Beer Bottles
Before tossing out empty bottles of beer, wine, or liquor, be sure to thoroughly rinse them out before tossing them into an open recycling bin. Fruit flies will particularly seek out fermenting liquids, even in small amounts.
Wipe Down Counters
Small amounts of stick liquids and substances are often one of the hardest things to track when keeping fruit flies away. If you’re fighting a fruit fly infestation, pay extra attention to sugars that may have splashed onto your counters, stove, or sink during food prep.
Clear Away Dishes
Leaving dishes in the sink or pet food plates on the floor can also attract fruit flies. Rinse these off and get them into the dishwashers as quickly as possible, especially in warmer temperatures.
Wash Off Your Produce
As we mentioned earlier, always wash off your fresh fruits and vegetables before putting them into the pantry or refrigerator. Check the items in the store for soft spots and signs of decomposition before buying them as those imperfections can attract store pests that you then bring home.
The Best DIY Fruit Fly Traps
Homemade fruit fly traps are incredibly common and can be made quite easily. In simple cases, the DIY approach should take care of your fruit fly problem quite quickly. Once the infestation grows, however, it’s important to call in professionals.
Here are a few natural and store-bought fruit fly traps that are easy to use at home.
Apple Cider Vinegar + Dish Soap
If you’re looking to bait all your current fruit flies into one spot, fill a wide-mouthed glass or gar with a mixture of water, apple cider vinegar (ACV), and a few drops of dish soap.
Roll up a piece of paper into the shape of a cone and tape to secure the sides. Close off the top of the jar with the cone, small side down. You should make sure that there are no openings for the flies to escape on the side of the paper.
This method works when fruit flies are drawn in by the sweetness of the ACV, climb down through the hole in the cone, and then get stuck in the mixture once inside.
Beer or Wine Bottle
You can pull off a similar trick with a beer or wine bottle due to its small-necked opening at the top. Leave the unwashed bottle out by your fruit bowl or other trouble areas for a day. Be sure to dispose of the bottle outside to keep flies from making their way back out of the bottle.
One of the most common store-bought fruit fly traps uses a very similar method with its own sweet composition. These products will often look like regular spice bottles or small decorative items so you can tuck them into your kitchen without drawing attention to the issue.
Flies will be able to get inside the bottle for the sweet liquid, but not be able to escape.
For more extreme fruit fly problems, it can also be helpful to clean out your drains of all decaying material. Grocery and hardware stores often have several pipe-friendly options for breaking up drain sludge and taking fruit flies with it.
A Professional Approach to Fruit Fly Management
A pristine kitchen can quickly become an uncomfortable and unsanitary place to prepare food when a fruit fly infestation takes off. If you’re concerned about managing the issue on your own, do not hesitate to reach out to an Aptive specialist in your area.
Our attentive and highly trained specialists will create a pest control plan tailored for your unique home and challenges. We specialize in providing eco-friendly natural pest control that is both highly effective and safe for you and your pets.
At Aptive, we know that controlling fruit flies goes beyond basic extermination methods. Our Four Season Protection Plan provides peace of mind both on and off seasons for fruit flies, ensuring that these pesky intruders will never become an infestation again.