How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies With Homemade Traps
By Marilyn Syarto
Fruit flies are some of the most persistent and annoying tiny insects you’ll ever come across. They’re a close match to mosquitos! They don’t bite humans—they don’t even have teeth, but they do carry and spread germs and bacteria. So even if you spot just a single fruit fly, take immediate action because they’ll quickly propagate like crazy. We've put together a guide that'll show you how to get rid of fruit flies for good.
What Attracts Fruit Flies?
We understand your frustration—you’ve cleaned your home and kept your sink drain and garbage disposal meticulous but that didn’t help eliminate the stubborn swarm. In fact, they’re multiplying by the hundreds. These little buggers hate cleanliness, but they are attracted to fermenting, overripe, and rotting fruits and vegetables, but only in the hot summer months; they’ll die off once cooler weather sets in. Once they get inside your home, they’ll find even a shred of something fermenting where you’ve scrubbed, and they may even sneak into your refrigerator’s crisper drawer where they can surprisingly survive and thrive.
What Does a Fruit Fly Look Like?
Fruit flies and gnats look alike but need different methods to kill them. Identify them this way: Fruit flies are light tan or reddish with bright red eyes and congregate near food or drains. Fungus gnats are gray and black and really don’t care much about rotted produce but rather hover around plants and soil.
Why Fruit Flies Multiply So Fast
Female fruit flies look for decaying produce on which to nest and hatch their hundreds of eggs. One female can lay 500 eggs in its 40 to 50-day lifespan. You won’t even notice the microscopic eggs. But here’s the rapid-fire life of a fruit fly: it goes from egg to adult in eight to 10 days, breeding in the meantime, the female lays its batch of eggs that hatch in about 24 hours, and the cycle continues from there. If you see one fruit fly flying around, you need to in that exact moment put a plan into action to capture the adults while you get busy cleaning (yet, again) your home.
Best Methods to Get Rid of Fruit Flies
Happily, there are proven ways to eliminate fruit flies from your home. You’ll find plenty of well-designed and commercially sold fruit fly traps, but our guide gives you three super simple DIY methods that cost pennies to make with items you already have that are perfect for getting rid of fruit flies. We’ve given you an easy fix, one that’s a slight bit more involved but worth the extra effort, and a spray alternative. In addition, we’ve given you plenty of tips to swat those pests right back down the drain and prevent them from taking up residency in the first place.
How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies with Apple Cider Vinegar
Battle a fruit fly swarm with apple cider vinegar. The sweet smell of the vinegar will draw in the insects, and dish soap will trap them.
Tools and Materials Needed:
- Plastic wrap
- Apple cider vinegar (do not use any other type of vinegar—ACV smells like sweet, but rotting produce to fruit flies)
- A drop of dishwashing liquid
- Tape or rubber band
Step 1: Fill Bowl
Fill a medium-sized bowl with apple cider vinegar. Add a drop of dishwashing liquid and mix well.
Step 2: Add Plastic Wrap
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Seal the edges of the plastic wrap; use tape or a rubber band.
Step 3: Poke Holes
Poke a few small holes in the top of the plastic wrap.
Step 4: Leave Bowl Alone
Leave the bowl where you see the flies swarming; they will go through the holes in the plastic, become trapped in the bowl thanks to the addition of dishwashing liquid (which acts as a sort of glue), and die. Keep the bowl there—don’t become discouraged, it could take at least a day to see results.
How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies with a Funnel Trap
This contraption also uses apple cider vinegar but creates more of a vessel to trap and keep fruit flies in.
Tools and Materials Needed:
- Glass or plastic jar (recycle a mayonnaise, sauce, or pickle jar, for example)
- Piece of plain paper
- Choice of apple cider vinegar, pieces of ripe fruit, wine, or beer
Step 1: Prepare Jar
Take the cap off a jar, rinse it out thoroughly so food particles don’t mingle with your bait.
Step 2: Fit Funnel to Jar
Roll up the piece of paper into a funnel to fit into the mouth of the jar, taping the edges of the paper together. Leave a small opening at the bottom of your paper funnel.
Make sure your paper funnel fits well and snug into the mouth of the jar. You do not want any gaps between the mouth and the funnel where flies can sneak an escape.
Step 3: Add Fruit Fly Bait
Take the funnel out for a moment so you can fill the jar about a quarter full with a small amount of liquid or fruit of your choice. The bottom of the paper funnel should not touch the bait. You can mix bait if you wish—for example, pour a few drops of ACV in the jar and top it with a piece of apple or banana as an extra special treat for the fruit flies’ last meal.
Step 4: Return Funnel to Jar
Position the funnel back into the jar. Tape the sides of the funnel to the mouth of the jar to keep it in place.
Step 5: Leave Jar Alone
Watch for the flies to flock to the jar, trapped inside without a way to fly out. If necessary, replace the bait and funnel when it looks full of dead fruit flies.
Step 6: Dispose of When Done
Once finished with your trap, dispose of it in a sealed garbage bag so there are no lingering traces of fermented material in your home.
How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies with Spray Killer
Grab your favorite household glass cleaner (or make your own with the below recipe) to kill fruit flies on the spot.
Tools and Materials Needed:
- Spray bottle of glass cleaner
- Empty, clean spray bottle
- Undiluted rubbing alcohol
- Paper towels
- Sealable plastic bags
Step 1: Spray Flies
This is sort of a two-punch method of aggressively capturing and killing fruit flies. Stun them into submission by spraying them directly with glass cleaner or a spray bottle filled with rubbing alcohol (no water).
Step 2: Dispose of Flies
They should fall to the surface. While they are immobilized, immediately wipe them up with a paper towel and put them in a sealable plastic bag. Dispose of the sealed plastic bag outside of your house.
Step 3: Repeat When Necessary
If pests persist, repeat these steps as necessary.
How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies with Wine or Beer
If you don’t have apple cider vinegar and you need to take action, leave an open bottle of beer or wine (not the good stuff!) near the flies. The bottles don’t need to be full at all, in fact, they can have just a bit of alcohol in them. The flies will be lured by the sugar in the alcohol and with any luck, fly down the neck of the bottle, become trapped, and die. You can also put small cups of beer or wine around your home to catch the flies.
How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies with Juice or Soda
Place an open can or bottle of soda pop on your counter to catch fruit flies (leave a little liquid in the container so they can feast on it)—but watch out for other pests, like bees and wasps, that also love sugary drinks.
Deter with Essential Oils
How to Prevent Fruit Flies
While you’re busy trapping adult fruit flies, get busy with the following to prevent them from coming around in the first place:
- Thoroughly clean your fruit crisper.
- Wipe down and clean your fridge interior and eliminate any spills.
- Thoroughly wipe and clean any spills in, under, or around your refrigerator.
- Keep your dishwasher clean and wipe up where juices may have spilled.
- Replace dish sponges and mop heads that may have hidden fermenting material on them.
While fruit flies are pesky and seemingly neverending, there are plenty of ways to get rid of them—most of which include common materials you probably already have in your pantry. Whether you set up bait traps or make your own fruit fly killer, as long as you're persistent, fruit flies should stay far away.
William on Sep 09, 2021
Great tips. Good share.
How to Prevent Fruit Fly Invasions
They're tiny, they're a nuisance and they seemingly come out of nowhere. They are fruit flies, and while they’ll be gone when the crisp weather of early fall comes rolling in, during the summer months they are in prime season and can be a big nuisance.
Fruit flies are tiny enough (1/8") that they can sneak into your home through the tiniest space around windows or doors, or even fly right through your window screen. You may even be bringing them right into your home yourself.
How’s that? Fruit flies can, unbeknownst to you, enter your home on fruits or vegetables you bring in from the grocery store, farmer’s market or your own garden. When fruit is overripe or starts to go bad it begins to ferment, producing alcohol, which attracts fruit flies. As they gobble up the fermenting fruit, they can lay hundreds of eggs which hatch into larvae in mere hours. Additionally, fruit flies have a notoriously short life cycle, going from egg to adult in about a week, ensuring an almost- constant breeding cycle.
Here are few things you can do to prevent a fruit fly invasion in your home:
Slow down the ripening of fruit and vegetables by keeping them refrigerated
Fruit stored on countertops should be washed well and covered
Empty kitchen trash cans often, especially if they contain food items
Keep your garbage disposal and sinks clean
Use a fruit fly trap to contain a small fly invasion.
Use a bowl of apple cider vinegar to lure and attract flies. Placed near prime breeding areas, apple cider vinegar attracts the adult fruit flies, they drown, and ends the breeding cycle.
You can also buy fruit fly traps.