How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in Your House


Have you ever walked into your kitchen only to see dozens of tiny little flies buzzing around? Those pesky little bugs are fruit flies, and they can be incredibly irritating to have flying around your home. Fruit flies, also sometimes called vinegar flies or wine flies, are a common household pest that many homeowners have to deal with at some point.

While fruit flies themselves aren’t harmful, their constant buzzing and presence in your food areas can make your home feel dirty and unclean. That’s why it’s important to get rid of them as quickly as possible. In this extensive guide, I’ll share everything you need to know about fruit flies, including how to identify them, where they come from, and the most effective natural methods for eliminating an infestation from your kitchen and home.

By the end, you’ll have a full arsenal of tips and tricks to rid yourself of these annoying little bugs once and for all. Let’s get started!

Understanding Fruit Flies

Before jumping into how to get rid of fruit flies, it’s helpful to first understand a little bit about the pests themselves. Fruit flies, scientifically known as Drosophila melanogaster, are very small flies that typically grow to be only about 1-3 millimeters in length. They have red eyes and greyish bodies with black stripes running down their abdomen.

Due to their tiny size, fruit flies are often mistaken for gnats. However, there are a few key differences between the two:

Fruit flies have brightly colored red eyes, while gnats have darker eyes.

Fruit flies hover close to surfaces and move up and down rather than darting erratically like gnats tend to do.

Gnats are typically attracted to moisture and rotting plants, while fruit flies are specifically drawn to overripe fruit and fermenting foods/beverages.

Fruit flies thrive in warm, moist environments like your kitchen. The larvae develop in decaying organic materials like overripe fruit, vegetables, and fermenting foods/beverages. This makes your kitchen the perfect breeding ground if you have any spilled juices, rotting produce, or open drink containers lying around.

A single female fruit fly can lay up to 500 eggs in her lifetime. Under optimal conditions, the eggs will hatch within 24 hours and the larvae will mature into adult flies just 8-10 days later. This rapid life cycle allows infestations to explode quickly if left unchecked.

Outdoor fruit flies may find their way into your home in the summer and fall months through open doors and windows. But indoors, infestations usually develop due to accumulated attractants in the kitchen that the flies use to lay their eggs.

Knowing where fruit flies come from and what draws them in is key to implementing control methods that cut off their food and breeding sources. Let’s move on to learning the specific signs of an infestation and how to inspect your kitchen.

Identifying a Fruit Fly Infestation

Now that you understand the basics about fruit flies, it’s important to be able to recognize the telltale signs of an active infestation in your home. Here are some common indicators to watch out for:

Seeing several of the small flies buzzing around your countertops, cabinets, and trash cans, especially in the kitchen area. They may land on foods and swim in liquids.

Spots or films of larvae floating in decaying produce, sodas, beer, wine, or other fermenting liquids left out on the counter.

Fruit flies congregating near sources of fermentation like open fruit bowls, the sink drain, recycling bins, or garbage disposals.

Spotting the tiny flies near windows or light fixtures in other areas of the home. This indicates they may be spreading beyond the kitchen.

Fruit flies landing on you or flying around your face if you try to prepare or eat food in the kitchen.

To accurately confirm you’re dealing with fruit flies and not another type of pest, closely inspect any flies you see. Look for the dark abdominal stripes and red eyes that distinguish fruit flies. You can also capture a live specimen in a clear cup to examine up close.

When inspecting your kitchen for signs of infestation, pay close attention to:

The condition of produce – check for any rotting or overly ripe fruits and vegetables.

Open food containers – look inside cabinets and the fridge for items with mold growth or spilled liquids.

The sink and drainage areas – check for clogged drains, food scraps, or residues that could ferment.

Recycling and trash bins – fruit flies may be breeding in any bags or containers of organic waste.

Spilled liquids on countertops – wipe surfaces clean and check for residue under appliances.

Any area that looks damp, soiled, or has traces of fermenting materials could potentially be a fruit fly breeding site. Removing these attractants is crucial for control.

Eliminating Fruit Fly Breeding Sources

Getting rid of a fruit fly infestation requires a two-pronged approach – you must eliminate existing breeding sites while also controlling the adult fly population. Starting by removing all potential food and egg-laying locations from the kitchen is a must.

Follow these tips to remove every last bit of fermentable waste and residue from your home:

Discard Rotten Produce

Inspect all fruits and vegetables for signs of rotting and discard anything that’s overly ripe or spoiled. Bag and remove from the kitchen immediately.
Clean Out the Fridge & Cabinets

Thoroughly scrub shelves, drawers, and crispers in the fridge to remove spilled juices or moldy residues. Also wipe down cabinets where food is stored.
Take Out the Trash Daily

Fruit flies thrive in organic waste, so keep your trash liner fresh and take out bags promptly before they can multiply. Consider composting food scraps instead.
Wash Recyclables Well

Rinse containers before putting them in the recycling bin to remove residual juices or food bits. Any unwashed items could harbor fly larvae.
Clean the Sink & Drain Areas

Use a pipe cleaner or drain cleaning product to remove clogs and food deposits from sink drains and garbage disposals. Rinsing them daily also helps.
Wipe Spills Immediately

Fruit flies may find even small spills of liquid to lay eggs in, so quick cleanups are a must. Give surfaces a thorough wipe down.
Airing Out the Kitchen

Opening some windows allows fresh air circulation to prevent moist conditions that attract flies. Cleaning removes odors they use to locate food sources.
Some spring cleaning of closed cabinets and lesser used appliances may also uncover additional hidden breeding areas you didn’t realize were there. Once thoroughly sanitized, your kitchen will be a much less appealing habitat for these pests.

Controlling the Adult Fly Population

With all attractants eliminated, you now need effective methods to reduce and monitor the adult fruit fly population itself. Many natural trapping and killing techniques can help chip away at fly numbers over time until infestation levels disappear. Let’s look at some great options:

Apple Cider Vinegar Trap

In a jar, combine 1 part apple cider vinegar with 2 parts water. Add a drop of dish soap and place uncovered with a mesh lid or plastic wrap. Flies drown as they’re attracted to the scent.
Wine Trap

Substitute an open cup or bowl of wine for the apple cider vinegar. Flies are drawn in but can’t escape once they land on the surface.
Fruit Fly Bag

Place banana peels, overripe fruit, or other attractants in a sealed resealable baggie. Poke holes and place near suspected swarming areas. Flies enter but don’t leave.
Dish Soap & Water Bowl

Add a few drops of dish soap to a bowl of water. Flies become coated and then sink and drown. Refresh daily as needed.
Aroma Therapy Sprays

Blend essential oils with water in a spray bottle. Scents like lemongrass, citrus, or eucalyptus can mask odors flies use to find food and drive them away. Spray counters regularly.
Flypaper Strips

Hang adhesive ribbons or sheets near light sources or other areas fruit flies congregate. They’ll be drawn in and stick fast. Replace as strips fill up.
With diligent and consistent use of trapping methods like these, you can effectively monitor fly populations and reduce their numbers over the course of a week or two to get control of the infestation. Be patient, as it will likely take time to fully eliminate all flies.

Preventing Future Infestations

Once your fruit fly problem is solved, it’s important to incorporate long-term preventative measures to avoid future invasions. Staying on top of clean-up and storage is essential. Here are tips for prevention:

Clean up kitchen messes as they happen rather than waiting for scraps to accumulate.

Store all produce in sealed containers or the fridge rather than leaving them in open bowls.

Check expiration dates and use older food items first to prevent spoilage.

Thoroughly rinse recyclables before recycling to remove residues.

Take out trash bags

Here are some additional tips for preventing and getting rid of fruit flies:

Trap Them With Fermented Bait

Make your own fruit fly trap by combining sugar, yeast, water and fruit in a bottle. Seal it with plastic wrap and poke holes. The fermentation attracts and traps flies inside.
Use Sticky Traps

In addition to flypaper, you can buy pre-made sticky traps specifically designed for fruit flies. Hang them near infestation sites and replace as needed.
Potassium Sorbate Solution

Mix 2 tablespoons of potassium sorbate (a natural fungicide) into 1 quart of warm water. Splash or spray this solution around infested areas. It kills larvae.
Target Larvae in Drains

Fruit fly eggs and larvae often grow in drains. Pour a mixture of 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup white vinegar down slow-running drains weekly.
Declutter Counter Surfaces

Too many items provide hiding spots. Do a thorough declutter so it’s easy to spot and clean up any spills right away.
Monitor Produce Before Purchase

Check produce aisles for signs of fruit flies hovering before you buy. Don’t bring home anything already harboring eggs.
Bring in Beneficial Predators

Ladybugs and spiders will prey on flies. Provide habitat areas like plant pots near windows to encourage natural fly control.
Change Vacuum Bag Afterward

Vacuuming up live flies just spreads them throughout your home if the bag isn’t promptly thrown away outside afterwards.
Keep Garbage Cans Clean

Fruit flies deposit eggs in smelly garbage even outdoors. Wash cans weekly with diluted bleach water and store with tight-fitting lids.
These additional tips take preventative measures up a notch for long-term fruit fly management. Consistency in cleaning up attractants and monitoring fly activity over time should keep your kitchen fly-free!