How To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies

Photo of Kassandra Smith

Kassandra Smith

Senior Editor • Backyard Chicken Coops

Last Updated: 29 January 2015

How To Give Fruit Flies The Flick

Fruit flies are a frightening nuisances. No matter how fastidious you may be as a cleaner, we have all experienced that alarming moment when you enter your once pristine kitchen to discover a swarm of fruit flies buzzing above your sink or bin, like a some unholy dark cloud. It’s a horrifying moment! What did I do? What will people think if this gets out? There are so many of them, how can I possibly kill them all?! It’s enough to drive any reasonable person into a full blown panic attack. Before you open the liquor cabinet and surrender control of your kitchen over to these insect overlords, there are a few things you can consider to help you understand, prevent and eradicate these nasty pests.


Where Do These Beasts Come From?

Fruit flies, or Drosophilia melanogaster - we prefer the scientific name as it makes them sound appropriately terrifying - were once believed to supernaturally appear out of thin air. It can certainly feel like this, however this theory has long since been disproven. Fruit flies are basically incredibly small, superiorly cunning pests that can sense the presence of fruit from an enormous distance away. If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings, you can imagine that they are like The Dark Riders, at all times can the feel the presence of the fruit they have not eaten and they will stop at nothing to find it. So, in essence, the fruit flies sense, smell or find your slightly overripe fruit and the quickly start their crazed ritual of consuming the small amounts of alcohol permeating from the fruit, whilst breeding frantically. They are hedonistic creatures to say the least! This is why they have a reputation for “appearing out of nowhere”. They creep in through the tiniest hole, consume the alcohol your aging fruit is excreting and rapidly begin the process of multiplying.

How To Prevent Fruit Flies?

First and foremost, keep your fruit out of reach. Leaving fruit on the counter may be visually appealing, but this is a major draw for these unwanted pests. To this point, in a hot climate like Australia, fruit goes through the cycle of aging much quicker when it is left on the counter in the heat. When fruit becomes overripe it starts to ferment and that’s like a massive Vegas sign for fruit flies saying “hey you buster, come party”. Aside from that, keeping your counter clean and covering any fruit that you simply must have on display will help prevent your kitchen becoming a breeding ground for fruit flies.

How To Get Rid Of These Pests?

Getting rid of fruit flies is a many tiered endeavour. Here are some ideas and inspirations about how you can banish these buzzing beasts from your house:

  1. Get rid of any rotting fruit! This should seem pretty obvious but it’s vital that you do so. When you throw out the old fermenting fruit you are essentially removing its food supply. Make sure you just don’t put the rotting fruit into the kitchen bin. Really get rid of it. Put it into the wheelie bin, throw it off a bridge, toss it down a wishing well - do whatever you need to do to get rid of it.
  2. Clean your bins. Like I’m sure you all know a lot of mess and liquid can accumulate at the bottom of your bins. Once fruit flies have infiltrated your kitchen, they’ll no doubt find their way into the treasure trove that is your bin. But if your bin is spic and span it will be a massive deterrent for the fruit flies.
  3. Dirty old sponges and mops can be a fun house for fruit flies once they’ve gotten off the tour bus to your kitchen. Remove and replace them immediately.
  4. Stay on top of your cleaning. Keeping your counter clean and your sink clear will effectively remove any last feeding ground for the fruit flies.
  5. You can always experiment with more natural cleaners, like apple cider vinegar, if you don't like saturating your kitchen in unnatural chemicals

Once you’ve given your kitchen a deep clean, the fruit flies will soon lose interest and fly off somewhere else. Make sure you maintain these conditions though because these little devils now know where you live.

More Extreme Measures

Sometimes cleaning alone is not enough and you’ll need to take more extreme measures. Here are a few ideas:

Apple Cider Death Chamber: fill a shallow bowl with apple cider and cover with cling wrap. Poke some small holes into the cling wrap. Fruit flies will be drawn to the smell of the cider however won’t be able to escape.

The Bottle Of No Return: This works particularly well with you use a old beer or wine bottle. The fruit flies will be drawn to the smell of the alcohol. Roll a piece of paper into a long funnel and insert it into the mouth of the bottle. The fruit flies will fly into the bottle but have a really hard time getting out.

The Beery Mason Jar: Pour some beer into a mason jar. Seal the lid of the mason jar and poke some small holes into it. Like many of these techniques, the fruit flies will be drawn to the smell, but unable to find their way out of the container.

The key to preventing an infestation of fruit flies is cleanliness. Sometimes they are unavoidable, but there is plenty you can do to dispel them from your home. What your fruit flies want most is food, so there are many ways you can use that against them. You can either remove the fruit which brought them to the kitchen in the first place or you can set up cunning traps that will be their demise.

You can read about other kinds of pests like rats, lice and foxes, which can threaten your home, garden, pets or chickens.

Sources and further reading