How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

By: Jesslyn Shields  | 
fruit flies
Common fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) love rotting fruit and, once they show up, it may seem like you'll never get rid of them. Sylvie Bouchard/Shutterstock

Fruit flies are annoying. All you wanted to do was leave your fruit out on the counter during the hottest months of the year — or perhaps just wait two or three days before washing your dishes in peace, like a normal person — and instead fruit flies begin feeding on your rotting produce and having little dance parties in your sink drain and your fruit bowl, and making more and more (and more) of themselves. It doesn't take long. Soon there's a cloud of tiny, sluggish, hovering insects creating a sort of haze at eye level in your kitchen, and you, my friend, have a fruit fly infestation. But do fruit flies care about you and your convenience or sanity? Absolutely not. And they can get into your home through just a few small holes in the screen door.

In their defense, fruit flies (genus Drosophila) pose very few health risks. Unlike mosquitoes, they don't bite or spread disease. In fact, they're the reason we know as much about the science of genetics as we do. Fruit fly generations turn over so quickly, they've been invaluable test subjects for scientist studying genetic evolution — with fruit flies they were able to observe in 30 years what it would take around 200 years to see in mice!


However, even if you can respect a fruit fly's contributions to science, it's likely that doesn't make it less annoying when you accidentally inhale one up your nose while you're loading the dish washer.

Ways to Eradicate Fruit Flies

So, how does one get rid of the scourge of a fruit fly infestation? It may be easier than you think to trap the fruit flies and get rid of them in your home.

  • Make sure they're actually fruit flies. There are lots of little critters might take up residence in your home, like fungus gnats that are attracted to your house plants, or drain flies that do their business deep in your plumbing. But fruit flies are pretty distinctive: They're little flies about the size of a small mosquito (about 0.03 inches, or 1 millimeter, long). They're usually black or brown and have red eyes and small, round wings.
  • Keep it cool. Although this might not be the most energy efficient solution to your problem, lowering the temperature in your home might help lower the fruit fly population. Although a female fruit fly lives longer in lower temperatures, they lay more eggs when it's hotter. At around 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius), a fruit fly can lay between 30 and 50 eggs daily, resulting in hundreds of babies in her 10-12 day lifespan [source: Spruce].
  • Don't keep rotting fruit. Fruit flies love alcohol, which is why you might find them hovering over a warm beer or a glass of wine. They are particularly attracted to sweet fruit, which ferments quickly at warmer temperatures. Fruit flies feed off and lay their eggs in fermenting things, so the first step to eradicating them from your space is to throw away any overripe fruit and keep fruit juice off counters and tabletops. Another solution is to cover your fruit or keep it in the refrigerator during hot months [source: Spruce].
  • Keep your kitchen clean. In the absence of rotting fruit, fruit flies won't turn up their noses at a sour sponge, a soiled mop head, or whatever you've got going on in your garbage disposal or trash can. Changing absorbent cleaning tools frequently and taking your garbage out more often can help [source: Spruce].
  • Keep the air moving. Although fruit flies are great at flying, they need still air to land. If you have a fruit fly infestation in your kitchen, placing an oscillating fan on your counter can keep them away or at least discourage them from landing on a potential food source. Also, though it feels great to have your kitchen window open, fruit flies can fit through the holes in a screen, so keep windows shut to avoid inviting in fruit-loving roommates [source: Spruce].
  • Spray an insecticide to kill fruit flies. Chemical insecticides are effective methods for getting rid of fruit flies. Ensure that no edible products or toothbrushes are left open or on the counters when you're spraying the insecticide. You can experiment with other nontoxic home remedies for the situation too: for instance, spraying the adults with a mixture of borax or dish soap and water can help keep populations down. [source: Potter].
  • Make your own DIY fruit fly trap. Make a funnel out of paper and stick it in an open jar. Pour a few drops of cider vinegar on top of the paper and place the trap where you find the most fruit flies. Leave the trap in place overnight. The trap will trap fruit flies in your home [source: Potter].
  • Make a DIY banana fruit fly trap. Another effective homemade fruit-fly trap uses a jar, a slice of banana and plastic wrap. Place a piece of banana in a jar. Cover the jar with plastic wrap. Poke small holes in the plastic wrap. This will allow the fruit flies to enter, but make it difficult for them to fly out. Place the trap overnight where you find fruit flies. In the morning, dispose of the jar full of flies [source: Pest Week].
fruit fly
Fruit flies are about the size of a small mosquito, usually black or brown with red eyes and round wings. Zachariasz