Are you plagued by fruit flies? I’ve had swarms of them in my kitchen this summer – and they were everywhere, hovering over the fruit bowl, perched on the edge of the kitchen sink, flying by when I was cooking at the stove. They’re not only tiny, but so fast, I could never seem to hit them with a fly swatter. And of course, it doesn’t make sense to spray them with toxic chemicals – who wants nasty pesticides all over the place? I finally figured out how to get rid of every single pest. Hopefully, what I did will help you, too. The trick is to get rid of the places where fruit flies breed, then trap those that remain so they won’t keep breeding.
1) PUT ALL FOOD AWAY. Fruit flies love any food that’s available to them, whether it’s raw, cooked or waste. I put all fruit and veggies in the refrigerator and tightly closed bread bags and cracker boxes. Cookies went into a sealed cookie jar. I cleaned off oil bottles and honey jars so there were no drips to attract hungry bugs.
2) THAW FOOD IN THE FRIDGE. Rather than thaw frozen food on the kitchen counter, I put it in the refrigerator. I let frozen bread and cookies thaw inside the microwave or in the bread bin, both of which close tightly.
3) CLEAN. CLEAN. CLEAN. I’m as guilty as the next person of leaving dirty dishes in the sink – unless I’ve got fruit flies. That unwashed milk glass or the plate covered with drying pasta sauce couldn’t be a bigger invitation to a fly fest. At the very least, rinse food off all dishes before you leave them stacked, though it’s better to rinse and put them in the dishwasher if you have one. Also, clean up spills and crumbs on counter tops and on the stove. Flies don’t care where their food is, as long as it’s there.
4) TOSS THE OLD FLOWERS AND REPOT THE PLANTS. Toss old flowers and the stale water they may be standing in. Also, fruit flies often take up residence in the top couple of inches of soil in a plant pot. If you have potted plants that seem to be attracting flies, take the pots outside, get rid of the top two inches of dirt, and replace with “clean” dirt (perhaps from a garden center, as opposed to your own garden).
5) DEFUMIGATE YOUR DRAIN. The drain in the kitchen sink is a favorite spot for fruit flies: it’s dark, dank and often full of food morsels. If you have a disposal, put a piece of lemon in it and run it through. Then, add a few drops of vegetable oil and swirl it around. The oil will coat and kill any remaining pests.
6) SEAL SCREENS AND CRACKS IN DOORS AND WINDOWS. Fruit flies seem to appear out of nowhere, but they could be getting in through small tears in a screen or through cracks in a door or window. You can get a screen repair kit at your hardware store, as well as caulk to seal up the cracks. In a pinch, use duct tape.
7) COVER TRASH CANS. You’ll need a trashcan with a lid and a plastic bag that ties tightly. If you compost, don’t leave a compost pail in the kitchen. I actually keep my compost in a small covered container in my refrigerator until I can put it into the compost bin, which also has a lid on it.
8) SET SOME VINEGAR TRAPS. I put this in red because it’s so key to getting rid of the flies. Get a few small shallow bowls. Put 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in the bottom. Swirl in several drops of fragrance-free liquid soap (you want the flies to smell the vinegar, not the soap). Put the bowls on your kitchen counter or wherever you see the most flies. The flies will be drawn to the smell of the apple cider, but once they land in the mixture, the soap will make it impossible for them to escape. Trust me, these non-toxic traps work like a dream. I set them out one night and the next morning, all the pests were in the bowl of cider! (This bowl full of flies was what I found in my kitchen the morning after I set up my apple cider trap.)
9) SET SOME STICKY TRAPS. Spread some bright yellow index cards with a little honey and tape them to a window frame or other easy-to-see spot. Once the flies alight, they’ll have a hard time leaving.
Fruit flies are nasty, but they don’t have to make you naughty. These tips worked for me. If you have others, please share!