Best Way to Get Rid of Fruit Flies (and Preventions)

Pesticides and traps—these were often the solutions my gardener friends recommend when it comes to getting rid of fruit flies. But rather than buying all kinds of strong chemical insecticide sprays, I realized that it was actually much more practical and effective to create simple baited traps at home. Save money and the environment (and have fun!)!

The easiest and cheapest way to naturally and organically get rid of fruit flies is by using baited traps with 1) fruits, 2) vinegar, and 3) yeast. It is also important to keep the whole house clean to prevent giving fruit flies a place to breed and cause further infestations.

If you’ve got little kids or furry and scaly friends at home, commercial traps can be pretty intriguing—which could be dangerous. Here’s how to get rid of fruit flies in an inexpensive, easy, and natural way!

1. Fruits

Decaying fruits are highly attractive to fruit flies so simple traps of overripe chunks, peels, and fermenting juice. These are placed in containers covered with paper cones or perforated lids to prevent them from escaping until they die.

Just to clear up a common misunderstanding people have about fruit flies, they aren’t simply attracted to just any fruit they come across.

In reality, fruit flies are primarily attracted to overripe or rotting fruits and vegetables due to the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced as these organic materials start decomposing.

What Attracts Fruit Flies?
What Attracts Fruit Flies?

So it makes a lot of sense to use any fruit or crop you have at home that is starting to go bad instead of trashing them straight away as waste.

Virtually anything can be used, from banana peels and overripe tomatoes to rotting onions and moldy potatoes.

Materials and Instructions for Homemade Fruit Fly Trap Using Fruits

The following materials are needed to create DIY fruit traps to get rid of fruit flies:

  • Fruit or vegetable: Preferably one that’s overripe or already showing signs of rotting, expired juices or fruit wines are also great options.
  • Container: Use whatever you have available—washed plastic bottles, glass jars, or small deli cups.
  • Paper: Whether it’s blank or used, a sheet of paper is essential in creating a funnel-like cone to allow fruit flies to enter but not escape. You can also use a small funnel.
  • Tape: This is necessary in helping the paper cone retain its shape and stay in place.
  • Scissors: You may need this if the paper cone you made doesn’t already have a small hole at the tip for fruit flies to have entry access to the bait in the trap.

Create a DIY fruit-baited trap for fruit flies by:

  1. Cleaning and drying the container to be used thoroughly
  2. Adding the pieces, peels, or juice of the fruit or vegetable into the trapping container
  3. Rolling the paper into a wide cone that will fit and fully cover the mouth of the container without touching the fruit bait inside
  4. Taping the paper cone to secure the sheet of paper into a funnel-like cone
  5. Snipping a tiny hole (ideally less than 1/4 inch or about 6 mm in diameter) at the very tip of the cone so the fruit flies can easily enter but not readily exit
  6. Placing the paper cone on the container snugly, it can also be secured to the container with some tape as well
  7. Waiting for about 1–2 days to trap a considerable amount of fruit flies

Pro Tip: You can add a few drops of vinegar and liquid soap to the fruit bait or sprinkle some yeast on it to attract more fruit flies.

FRUIT FLY INFESTATION and how to deal with it | Growing food in small spaces

Try to check on the trap as often as you can, at least once a day. Once you’ve collected quite a few, you can release the trapped fruit flies outdoors, or whatever pass in your mind in that moment!

Clean your trap and replace the fruit bait every few days to prevent adult fruit flies from breeding and laying new eggs in it.

Want to proactively deter them in the garden? Grow these fly-repelling plants!

2. Vinegar

Mixing vinegar, like apple cider vinegar, with a few drops of liquid dish-washing soap can both effectively lure and trap a significant amount of fruit flies within a few hours.

As I’ve mentioned before, fruit flies are often attracted to decomposing fruits. This natural process often results in the creation of alcohols like wine as well as vinegar.

So instead of waiting for the fruits and veggies you’ve lovingly grown to start rotting, just directly use vinegar as bait! (I’d rather use some vinegar over wine any day as well.)

Materials and Instructions for Homemade Fruit Fly Trap Using Vinegar

Below are materials that can be used to assemble a DIY vinegar trap for fruit flies:

  • Vinegar: Any type of vinegar will do, you don’t have to specifically buy a bottle of apple cider vinegar if you don’t have it at home.
  • Dish soap: This will help in stopping the fruit flies from flying out of the trap, basically drowning them in the vinegar bait.
  • Container: Use whatever you have available but choose something that has a relatively wide mouth such as glass jars or small deli cups.
  • Cling wrap: Most thin plastic materials can serve as the cover for the trap. You can also use the container’s lid if it’s plastic.
  • Rubber band: I recommend using this over a strip of tape so that it’s easier to remove the cover and put it back in place.
  • Sharp tool: Pretty much anything at home will work—from newly sharpened pencils to ordinary steel nails. If the plastic lid is pretty thick, use a soldering iron.

Assemble a DIY fruit-baited trap for fruit flies by:

  1. Cleaning and drying the container to be used thoroughly
  2. Filling 1/2 to 3/4 of the container with pure vinegar
  3. Mixing in a couple of drops of liquid dish soap to the vinegar bait
  4. Covering the mouth of the container with cling wrap or its plastic lid
  5. Securing the sheet of plastic on the mouth of the container with a rubber band
  6. Poking several small holes (approx. 1/4 in or 6 mm in diameter) in the cover as entry points for fruit flies
  7. Waiting for about 1–2 days to trap a considerable amount of fruit flies

Let a few days pass before discarding or killing the trapped fruit flies. Then, repeat the steps from the start until you get rid of all the fruit flies that have made their way into your home.

3. Yeast

A bait solution made from yeast, sugar, and warm water is effective for attracting fruit flies into simple and inexpensive homemade traps using household items like bottles.

Similar to vinegar, yeast is a natural product of fermentation in ripening fruits and other common crops. This could explain why they’re also called vinegar flies.

With some sugar, the yeast will start producing alcohol and carbon dioxide—both of which are very appealing to fruit flies. These are sure signs of decay, equating to viable breeding sites for these pesky insects.

Materials and Instructions for Homemade Fruit Fly Trap Using Yeast

Here are common materials used to make a DIY yeast trap for reducing fruit fly populations:

  • Dry yeast: One small package will generally suffice to prepare the bait solution.
  • Sugar: Any sugar can be used to provide some material for the yeast to act on.
  • Warm water: Use warm not hot or boiling water to activate the dry yeast.
  • Measuring cups and spoons: For proper measurement of the ingredients, use plastic cups and spoons.
  • Bottle: Most plastic bottles can be cleaned and modified to create a simple trap. Old wine or beer glass bottles with narrow mouths and wide bases can also be used.
  • Cutter: This is needed for traps made with recycled plastic bottle traps.
  • Sharp tool: Any sharp tool, such as a pen or nail, will work to pierce a hole into the cap of the baited bottle trap. You may need to use a soldering rod for thick plastics.

Make a DIY yeast-baited trap for fruit flies by:

  1. Cleaning and drying the container to be used thoroughly
  2. Cutting the plastic bottle by 2/3 from the base
  3. Pouring 1/4–1/3 cup of warm water into the bottom half of the bottle
  4. Sprinkling the contents of one package of dry yeast over the water
  5. Adding 1 tsp of water to the yeast mixture
  6. Swirling the bottle to fully incorporate all ingredients together
  7. (Optional) Poking additional holes onto the cap and top half of the bottle
  8. Covering the mouth of the container with the inverted top half of the bottle
  9. Waiting for about 1–2 days to trap a considerable amount of fruit flies
DIY FLY Trap to Get Rid of Flies and Fruit Fly

If you only have narrow-mouthed glass soda, wine, or beer bottles on hand, you can use them as is without making any alterations. Remember to clean it beforehand as well.

Only keep this trap for 1 week, maximum, to prevent having a second generation of fruit flies survive in the solution of yeast bait. Kill them in the freezer or flush them into the sink for at least 1 minute to avoid having any stick to the pipes.

You can swap each bait type and each trap type with one another. If none of these work, get in touch with your local Extension office to confirm what fly is actually infesting your home!

What are Fruit Flies?

Adult fruit flies (Drosophila spp.) are small insects with a single pair of wings that often become pests in homes, specifically kitchens due to the presence of decaying fruit and vegetable materials. Their bodies vary from tan to dark brown while their eyes are either red or brown.

Fruit flies are most often found inside houses beginning in summer to around fall, coinciding with harvest times for several crops grown in home gardens.

They can complete their life cycle in more or less 1–2 weeks. Warmer temperatures above 64°F (18°C) generally lead to faster development.

Eggs hatch about 1 day after they’re laid, giving way to small white larvae. After about 5 days, they can turn into pupas. Then after a few more days pass, they emerge as adults.

Fun Fact: A single female fruit fly can lay up to 500 eggs in total, counting both viable and sterile ones, with up to 100 eggs each day!

Common Cause of Fruit Flies at Home
Common Cause of Fruit Flies at Home

They don’t appear out of nowhere. You can encounter them anywhere on Earth—well, except for Antarctica. Fruit flies are often inadvertently brought indoors.

In most cases, fruit flies find their way indoors through surviving eggs and larvae left on fruits and vegetables grown in gardens or bought from markets.

Of course, adult fruit flies can also enter homes through windows in your kitchen—especially with bowls of fruits on display.

7 Tricks to Prevent Getting Fruit Flies in Your Home

The most effective way to prevent fruit flies from infesting homes is by practicing proper hygiene and sanitation, especially in the kitchen and other open areas where food items, including fresh fruits or ripened vegetables, and waste are located.

For the record, it’s impossible to permanently get rid of fruit flies in under 5 minutes. Even a whole hour wouldn’t give you enough time to completely deal with cases of home infestation.

Fruit flies won’t go away on their own so long as they find a good place to breed and take shelter in homes and gardens!

On average, it takes a few days to several weeks to permanently get rid of fruit flies and prevent future cases of infestation.

1. Washing Produce

Thoroughly wash both your freshly harvested fruits and vegetables newly bought produce from markets or groceries to get rid of fruit fly eggs that may have been laid on the surface.

As you can see, sanitation serves as the primary control for fruit flies in most households.

But keep in mind that some crops, like garlic, may not last as long after they are washed—which brings me to the next trick!

2. Storing Produce Securely

Don’t leave your fruits or vegetables out in the open. Doing so will attract fruit flies and provide a perfect breeding site for fruit flies which can lead to cases of infestation.

Properly store your produce in the pantry or refrigerator when applicable. This can also help stop them from ripening and rotting too fast.

3. Tidying Up Food Spills

Always practice the CLAYGO rule or clean-as-you-go, even at home and especially in your pantry and kitchen.

Check all corners and crevices you can find. Make sure to look under tables and chairs, as well as by the base of appliances and counters. I’d also advise you to regularly check your pantry and other food storage spaces for rotting produce which can start leaking juices.

You see, even what most people consider as superficial drink and food spills can provide a great and highly appealing breeding ground for fruit flies.

4. Throwing Overripe Produce

Don’t keep overripe fruits and veggies in the kitchen. Use them or bin them to avoid having fruit flies breed in them.

It’s better to find a good recipe for them and cook them right away. Super ripe bananas, for instance, make for delicious banana bread.

Alternatively, you can toss your bad and already rotting produce into your compost bin.

Explore the reasons why compost can burn plants!

5. Taking Out the Trash

Regularly take out your trash. Never keep your trash for too long, especially if you have food waste in them. I also recommend rinsing drink cans and bottles before throwing them away.

Otherwise, fruit flies can breed and live in your trash with all the food and growing medium they can find in there.

Also, don’t forget to clean the bin itself and the space around it to get rid of any food specks and spills from the trash.

6. Cleaning the Drain

Experts also recommend thoroughly cleaning your kitchen sink’s drain regularly so that fruit flies won’t develop with the leftover food stains there.

When possible, first brush the inner pipes with a stiff brush to effectively get rid of the bacterial film that have may built up in them.

How to GET RID of fruit flies FAST - The Best Home Made Fruit Fly Trap

You can pour boiling water or a mixture of boiling-hot vinegar and baking soda down the drain to sterilize it now and then. Industrial-strength drain cleaners like the one below from Amazon are also a great option.

Additionally, you can leave your sink filled with water overnight to completely deprive fruit flies of oxygen—suffocating or drowning them.

7. Deep-Cleaning the Kitchen

Last but not least, make it a habit to deep-clean your kitchen on a regular basis. Don’t wait until there’s a lot of build-up before you start tidying around.

In doing so, you can limit the material on which fruit fly larvae can develop and feast on until they become adults and produce another generation of fruit flies.

Remember to wash mops, rags, and any other cleaning materials after using them too. Otherwise, they can act as hidden breeding sites for fruit flies to take shelter in.

FAQs

Can you make a homemade spray to kill fruit flies?

While it is possible to make a homemade spray to kill fruit flies using a diluted 50/50 mix of toxic protein baits and an insecticide (here on Amazon) for serious cases of fruit fly infestations in homes and commercial gardens, this should only be considered as a last resort. This can be sprayed on border plants away from fruiting plants.

Are fruit flies harmful?

For the most part, fruit flies (Drosophila spp.) are considered to be harmless to humans unlike house flies which often carry and spread disease-causing pathogens. Fruit flies don’t bite humans or animals either. Nevertheless, there are some cases of people experiencing stomach or gastrointestinal upsets after eating fruit-fly-infested food items.

Does bleach kill fruit flies?

Bleach is often insufficient for killing and preventing the infestation of fruit flies, especially when poured down the drain. The same is true for ammonia and other detergents. It is easier to kill both adult and larvae fruit flies by freezing them for at least one whole night before finally discarding them.

Will light traps work with fruit flies?

Light traps (here on Amazon) attract various flies using ultraviolet light and lure them into coming in contact with an adhesive sheet trap or a low or high-voltage electric grid to kill them. However, these are typically more efficient for drawing and getting rid of bigger insects like house flies rather than smaller ones such as fruit flies.

Do fruit flies only target rotten fruits?

Although most fruit flies target rotting fruit and vegetable matter for feeding and breeding, one specie is known to thrive in outdoor conditions and also affects fresh fruits. The spotted wing drosophila (Drosophila suzukii) is known as a serious fruit or crop pest, laying eggs in fresh fruits—even before they ripen—which can reduce overall yield.

Summary of Ways to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Rotting and fermented food items such as fruits, vinegar, and yeast act as effective bait for creating homemade traps to get rid of fruit flies inside the home. Multiple traps can be made and placed around the house, mainly in the kitchen, to catch as many fruit flies as fast as possible.

Creating baited traps must be done alongside getting rid of potential breeding sites for fruit flies indoors to prevent even worse cases of infestations in the future. Wash produce, store them securely, tidy up food spills, throw out overripe produce, take out the trash, clean the sink drain, and deep-cleaning the kitchen regularly.

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