post revisit: how to fix a fruit fly problem

There’s a battle waging in our kitchens right now: The Fruit Fly war is in full summer swing. We figured since it was on our minds, it was probably on yours. Here’s a way that has worked for Megan in the past. What about you? got any good tips on how to eliminate the pesky gnats?

I admit it: I had a fruit fly problem. Fruit flies seem to go hand in hand with summertime, delicious ripe fruit, and a busy kitchen. This summer, though, I’ve taken control, and my fruit fly problem is now more like a minor annoyance. The first step is to remove the source of food. This means, for me, keeping my ripening nectarines and tomatoes wrapped securely in plastic bags until I’m ready to use them. My onions (apparently, they love onions) are now being stored in the fridge. Second step: sanitation. I clean my drains daily with baking soda and white vinegar — those pesky little buggers like to lay their eggs in the goop that resides in drains (barf). The third step — and this one’s the most rewarding — is to build a trap. I’ve tried funnels and plastic wrap over jars of overripe fruit, but I’ve found the best trap is plain old apple cider vinegar in a dish with a few drops of liquid dish soap. The soap apparently breaks the surface tension of the vinegar, causing the fruit flies to fall in and drown rather than sip and fly away. After a few days of changing the traps, you’ll notice the numbers dwindling. Does anyone else have more fruit fly solutions?

From our partners
hanna

I had fruitflies really bad once in a crappy apartment. The wall a/c sucked and the humidity level was really high overall which made it optimal for them. I cleaned my place up and took out the trash but I was noticing that they migrated to the bathroom. Found out they were living off the toilet water! It only took a few days of keeping the toilet lid shut to cut down on them.
I’ve also heard of traps where you put some kind of fruit like a lemon into a big plastic bag and when there’s a nice amount of them in there, you seal the bag real quick and microwave them dead, which apparently you can use over again.
they like my pet fountain right now. the filter was where they were raising their young. i’ve changed the filter in it but i suspect i’ll just go filterless with it and clean it more often.

Dana

I use cider vinegar, but I put a bit of plastic wrap over the dish with some small holes punched into it. They get in, they don’t seem to get out, and it keeps my cats from getting curious. I use ramekins for this, which keeps the plastic used small, and allows me to place multiple traps all over my kitchen.

hey…thanks for this post! i was making mustard recently and had a big pot of vinegar on the stove and those little buggers were dive bombing me. i am going to set the trap right now!!!

laila

In one of the restaurant/bars where I worked, we would pour bleach into every drain before we closed every night. It isn’t a green solution, but it worked! They love to breed in drains.

Thank you Thank you Thank you.

Ugh. I have a bakery (lots of ripening fruit for pies) in Memphis (humidity capital of the US)… we do cleaning solution down the drains, tape traps in the bakery cases, as well as tequila traps on the counters. You take a mason jar, fill a quarter of the way with cheap tequila, and put a funnel in the top. The annoying little pests get in and drown in drink. It’s not 100%, but it’s definitely helped.

I’ve started using a small dish of red wine mixed with a drop of dish soap – works like a charm. Just set it out on the counter, and dump/refill as needed!

Kate

Thanks for the great tips! I can only add that I wash any fruit and vegetables that I keep on the counter very thoroughly as soon as I get home. Bananas, avacados, melons, everything, especially around the stem end. It only works if you don’t have any fruit flies around to begin with, but that alone seems to be working wonders for me this summer, even with a big bowl of uncovered nectarines and peaches.

Mary

I liked reading everyone’s input on this subject. When I start noticing fruit flies in the kitchen I pour a few inches of a sweet drink (sweet tea, orange juice, etc…) in one of my juice glasses. I don’t cover the glass with anything. After a short time I’ll start noticing dead flies on the surface of the liquid. After a couple of days I stop noticing them flying around.

Lyndsey

This is the perfect way to trap the flies, but as a tip don’t put your fruit in a plastic bag, it makes them rot faster. Use paper if you can, they will last much longer.

Mary

The post and the comments are tremendously helpful. Thank you.

Kay

I second the red wine approach… White wine works well, too, and it’s easier to count the casualties. In a pinch, I fill a glass with soapy water and set it in the sink. I leave the light on above the sink all night and catch quite a few gnats. Concerning now that I know that I am luring them to their breeding ground… Maybe need to pour in some bleach, too.

Thank you so much for this tip! It’s working like a charm (and saving us from going completely crazy).

Barbara

So disturbing noticing fruit flies and having no fruit outside of the fridge.
Not sure why they started, but I have noticed them around the rads on the ceilings. Could it be from an apartment upstairs????
Not sure, I have tried the bowls of vinegar with holes punched in it
and hope it will work.

Missy

I had this problem last year (not this year thank goodness!) and in looking for “green solutions” online found one that said, ” a cup of baking soda, cup of salt, and cup of vinegar down every drain at least once a day” I would let it sit for about 15 minutes (or as long as I could before it was necessary to use that sink) and in addition to the soap and vinegar dishes (covered in plastic with punched holes) my flies were gone in about 4 days. Good luck everyone! Oh, I saw a similar thing on a tv show and the host said to wear a mask as the odors could be harmful? I didn’t wear one and I didn’t notice any bizarre fumes but also didn’t stand over the sinks inhaling deeply… So if you think you may be sensitive to such things, consider yourself warned. :o)

Scott

Every year peach and blueberry season rolls around and every year an explosion of red-eyed devils invade the kitchen. After some reseplace, it appears that what attracts them is the fermentation and other outgasses as fruit (over)ripens. This suggests why the vinegar and wine would work well. For me, an avid beer snob, I like nothing more than to turn up the attractant to overdrive.

step 1: pour a nice tasty microbrew
step 2: drop in any fruit…peach seems to be the best
step 3: make your cone and tape it inside
step 4: enjoy that beer
step 5: patiently wait the 2-24 hrs it will take to get a bottle full of nasties
step 6: toss the bottle OR throw it in the freezer for 20 minutes to fairly humanely kill the beasties and bring it back out for another round

happy hunting

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[…] Fruit fly solutions never get old — and this one at The Tangled Nest has the added fun of being […]

Lu

Needing to get rid of the swarm in our kitchen (really like a swarm), I dug out some leftover fly paper from last year – they don’t like that! But, I dipped a q-tip in the Garlic Red Wine Vinegar and tucked it into the spirals – and woohoo they loved it! I didn’t know about the drain/breeding issue and am off to treat that now. Thanks!

Bruce

Deal with all the fruit and vegetables you have laying around, empty the trash and flush-out the kitchen and bathroom drains.
Put a little red wine in a short glass and cover the top with plastic wrap. Poke a hole in the middle of the wrap with a pencil point. Cut a small diameter straw to about 1″ long and work it through the poked hole. Leave about 1/4″ of the straw on top. If the infestation is heavy, make several of these and leave them wherever you see the annoying bastards. You’ll be amazed how quickly they accumulate. I just dump the dead and wounded outside, then reload if necessary.

River

My own personal fruit fly war… has jut begun…

Pencils

Fruit flies isn’t my problem this summer, it’s pantry moths. Yuck! The good part is it’s gotten us to clean out the entire pantry, demo the previous owner’s crappy hand-made shelves, and then paint the pantry and install wire pantry shelving. And from now on everything is going in glass or plastic.Glass for looks, and plastic for practicality, as I can’t expect my preschooler to get out cereal stored in a glass jar.

sj strohm

Pour boiling water down your drains. Kills the eggs and helps keep your drains clear.

MB

Hot Shot makes a kitchen friendly, non-toxic bug spray that’s made of botanical oils. It’s all natural and safe for use in the kitchen and around kids. Works great on the flies. I cover the countertop with old towels and give the areas where they are congregating a good spritz each day.