Happy August! If it’s August, then it’s time for the annual fruit-fly infestation.
Every year, it’s the same thing – we get through June and July just fine, but then around the end of July we see one, maybe two fruit flies. The next week there are 500.
I’ve done a lot of research on how to get rid of fruit flies, and I’ve received a lot of advice about other methods. Let’s just say that there’s no easy way to get rid of these bugs.
All the advice starts with talking about removing all the hospitable environments for the fruit flies. Ha ha, I try to do this, but honestly, with a busy household and kids making a mess and leaving stuff around, I cannot guarantee 100% that there isn’t a breeding ground somewhere. And, hello, just having a glass of wine is like an invitation to a fruit-fly orgy. Let me ask you, are you willing to give up wine just to get rid of the fruit flies? I didn’t think so.
So, of course I try. I clean up immediately, yell at the kids more to not leave food or dirty dishes around, and rinse my wine glass as soon as I’m finished with it.
The next step is to trap the suckers. I’m pretty sure I’ve tried it all. Home remedy traps of cider vinegar in custard
cups covered with plastic wrap. So much fun when they spill. Ick. When I noticed how much the fruit flies liked my wine, I left a bottle out with a 1/4 of a cup of wine left in it. This worked pretty good, but never got rid of them completely. We tried a suggestion from a friend – pour some orange juice in a shallow, oven safe bowl, and put it in your oven. When it’s covered with the fruit flies, shut the oven door and crank it up to 400 degrees and melt the suckers. This sounded like a good idea, but the reality was not so good. For one thing, a lot of these methods have you luring the flies with fruit juice or vinegar. I began to suspect that I was just providing them the environment to lay their 500 eggs.
The funnel trap is definitely an improvement. The key here is that the flies are lured by the fruit/sweet liquid, and then they cannot get out of the trap, so they drown. The plastic wrap is supposed to do the same thing, but I’ve seen fruit flies climb out of the tiny holes you poke in the plastic wrap. The funnel isn’t perfect either – you’ll see the fruit flies alighting around the edge of the funnel, not getting trapped.
So, what is the best way to get rid of these pests? I’ll tell you what worked for us, but I’m going to warn you – it’s not easy. Remember toilet training your toddler? Remember what you had to do to get it to work? You had to stay attentive, and constantly check on them, and you stayed home all weekend so you’d be able to let your baby run around naked and get him/her to the toilet to pee. Well, getting rid of the fruit flies is like toilet training.
First, as I mentioned above, you have to make sure that you have the kitchen and bathrooms as clean as possible. Run the disposal and pour scalding hot water down the drain. Wash your trash can. Put away all fruit and vegetables or cover them. I used one of those picnic mesh covers to keep the fruit flies off of my bananas (because if you put bananas in the fridge, they turn brown). I actually suggest that you skip fresh fruit for a few days/a week.
Next, set up a trap. You can make your own funnel traps, or you can buy the Terro traps – we used the Terro ones because we’ve found them the most effective and easy to use. I’m not going to explain how to make a trap – there are literally hundreds of webpages about how to make a trap, but if you want something to go by, use this one: fruit fly trap.
If you make your own:
DO use vinegar, apple juice, and wine to attract the flies.
DON’T use a piece of fruit – this is definitely giving them a place to lay more eggs, and while you may be cleaning the traps daily, where does that fruit go? Unless you can be sure that all the flies and larva are dead, why would you want that within a mile of your home?
DO use the dish soap – this ensures that the flies drown vs. lay eggs on the surface of the liquid.
The home-made ones always have the possibility of being knocked over which is gross. I also swear by the wine glass with a few tablespoons of wine in it, and a drop or two of dish soap.
Finally, make sure your cordless vacuum is charged up. You don’t have a cordless hand vacuum? Why not? Ok, well, I love my cordless hand vac, but you can use your regular vacuum for this, I’m sure it’s even better, but just sort of a nuisance to have it out in the middle of your kitchen. Now, each time a bunch of fruit flies gathers around your trap – or whatever area they seem to like, vacuum them up. You’ll have to do this 50-75 times over 2-3 days. Remember, each fruit fly lays 400-500 eggs! The larva is maturing to pupa and then adult in around 7 days. They are multiplying – I can’t do the math, but trust me, they are! So, keep vacuuming them as often as you can. Don’t let more than one hour go by without vacuuming them up – remember the potty training – “do you need to go potty honey? No? Well you are getting on the potty!” I find them on my cabinets and walls, so don’t just limit your vacuuming to around the traps – suck them up wherever they are!
Of course, you’ll have to sleep at some time, and since you won’t be able to vacuum for 8 hours, be extra vigilant about environment. If you’re using the wine glass or bottle, put it away. Put the dishwasher on, even if it’s not full. Clean all surfaces and go to bed. First thing in the morning, vacuum up all the fruit flies that have gathered around the traps.
Soon you will have sucked up or drowned all the adults that are able to fertilize eggs that then can be laid. With no adult fruit flies, and no environment for the few that remain, you should stop the cycle of reproduction. But, you can’t relax yet – no, sorry, but you could miss one thing – a peach pit left in the family room trash can or a half drunk glass of juice in one of the kids rooms, and then 7 days later you have a new crop of adults. It’s frustrating, but at least you know what to do. First, pour a glass of wine for yourself . . .