Fruit flies are annoying pests that can swarm your kitchen at any time.
They can get especially bad in the summer when windows and doors are open and there’s lots of delicious food for them to find. But they’re plentiful at any time of the year. Once they get into your kitchen, it’s quite easy for them to lay their eggs and make themselves at home.
Their preferred place of residence? Anything that’s rotting, smelly, or wet. That means kitchens abound with perfect places for them. Fruit flies love sink drains, trash cans, mops, and, as their name implies, rotting produce.
“The garbage disposal, wine glasses with wine residue, dishes sitting around, anything with jelly or fruit juice or anything like that on there — they’ll be attracted to that as well,” said Christina Clark, a representative from Molly Maid of north Florida. “They do breed fairly quickly. They will also breed in sour sponges, mop heads, dishrags, so you do want to make sure you’re washing and drying them as often as possible and replacing them when needed, as well.”
The critters are prolific breeders, so it’s best to tackle them early.
Once they start laying eggs, a real infestation can start in no time. Fruit flies can have up to 500 babies in one breeding cycle. That means that if you don’t want them in your kitchen, you’ll have to take some steps before you have thousands of houseguests.
And they’re not just around during the warm months. Fruit flies find plenty of places to last out the winter in warm, moist home environments.
“Our best guess is they hide away in basements waiting for warm weather,” said Thomas Merritt, a fruit fly expert and scientist. “There’s a name for this idea. We call it the Root Cellar Hypothesis.”
They might be pests, but they won’t hurt you.
Thankfully, they don’t pose a real health problem to humans. But they are annoying. So, what can you do to get rid of the swarm in your kitchen?
You’re in luck. There are plenty of home remedies that you can use to tackle the problem. These solutions use regular pantry ingredients, so there’s no need to worry about toxic substances spilling on your counter or getting tracked to your fridge.
One easy DIY fly trap just calls for a cup, a paper funnel, and a splash of apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar is ideal for fruit flies. It’s made of fermenting apples, which just happens to be one of their favorite foods. Just pour a little apple cider vinegar into the bottom of the cup. Then, fashion a paper funnel that goes down into the cup.
The flies will crawl down to access the sweet vinegar, but they won’t be able to climb back out. Eventually, they’ll drown in the vinegar. It’s not a particularly pretty solution, but it’s amazingly effective.
Some people find that the fruit flies aren’t heavy enough to break the surface tension of the vinegar. Adding a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid can help suck the flies down into the vinegar. If you’d rather, you can use a splash of beer or wine instead of vinegar. The fruit flies will love it just as well.
Most other at-home fruit fly methods use some variation of the funnel and vinegar method.
What you put in the bottom of the cup is completely up to you. People have found success with alcohol; pieces of overripe fruit; or even a combination of milk, sugar, and pepper. These DIY solutions are easy to make and can be tucked away in a corner of the kitchen. What’s more, they’re made with natural ingredients, so they’re non-toxic to pets and humans.
If the paper funnel method isn’t effective for you, you can try putting a piece of plastic wrap over the mouth of the cup and poking holes in it. This will also keep fruit flies trapped, so they eventually fall into the liquid.
If you’d prefer to go a more conventional route, you can buy products to combat a fruit fly infestation.
Some people prefer to use plain old fly strips. These are sticky strips that can be hung around the kitchen and trap flies by gluing them to the surface.
They’re effective, but they can get in the way. The glue is strong enough to stick to human hair or skin if you accidentally brush up against one. It can also leave hard-to-remove residue on kitchen walls or cabinets.
These solutions are all effective, but there are plenty more.
Often, one of the best ways to keep fruit flies out of your kitchen is good old prevention. Make sure you keep surfaces clean and throw away produce when it begins to rot.
Some foods can be stored in the fridge to protect them. However, it’s important to know if colder temperatures will discolor or ruin them. For example, potatoes and onions quickly become moldy in a refrigerator.
Although they’re annoying, fruit flies serve an important purpose.
They do a big part in cleaning up bacteria and getting rid of rotting compost that can hurt humans. But that doesn’t mean you have to deal with them in your home.
By keeping your kitchen clean and clear of bacteria and fermenting foods, you can keep the fruit fly population down. However, if a few do sneak in, it’s easy to find at-home solutions to make your kitchen uninhabitable to them.
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