Getting Rid of Fruit Flies Indoors: 5 Ways That Work

Written by Shaunice Lewis
Published: May 12, 2022
Image Credit Ant Cooper/Shutterstock.com
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Bugs and pests are some things no one wants to deal with. Fruit flies are a common summertime pest as the weather warms up and we have more fresh fruit out in our fruit bowls. Since fruit flies are so small, they’re not something you could kill easily like you would a pesky housefly. For these bugs, you have to get creative and use traps to catch them and preventive measures to keep them out in the first place. Read on to learn more about how to get rid of fruit flies.

What’s the Difference Between Fruit Flies and Gnats?

First, you want to be sure you’re dealing with a fruit fly issue and not a gnat problem. If you notice small, tiny insects flying around, it’s easy to assume what they are, but identifying them properly will help when it comes to their removal and prevention, as your extermination methods will differ depending on what it is. It’s fairly easy to mistake fruit flies and fungus gnats as they look quite similar.

However, gnats tend to be gray or black in color, and fruit flies usually range in color from light tan to a reddish-orange or brown. Fruit flies have a taste for sweet and fermented things like overly ripe fruit, while fungus gnats are attracted to soil and plants. Therefore, if you notice the bugs have congregated around your fruit bowl, it is probably a fruit fly issue.

A fruit fly on a green piece of fruit
Fruit flies, like the one pictured here, are light tan to a reddish-orange or brown while gnats are gray or black.

Jordan Lye/Shutterstock.com

Where Do Fruit Flies Come From?

It might seem like fruit flies just pop up out of nowhere, but the reality is that fruit flies are attracted to the smell of rotting or fermenting fruits and vegetables. In many cases, fruit flies are brought in on the fruit that you purchase from the grocery store. This is why it’s always a good idea to carefully wash off any fruits or vegetables as soon as you get them home from the store so that you wash off any potential eggs that were brought in on the fruit.

Female fruit flies will lay their eggs on the surface of or inside of rotting, overripe, or decaying fruit. If that information wasn’t bad enough, what’s more, is that each female fruit fly is able to lay up to 500 eggs at a time! This is the main reason why it is so important to tackle the issue as soon as you notice them. The last thing you want to do is ignore the problem, thinking that it will go away on its own. Because of how many eggs fruit flies can lay at once, as well as how quickly the eggs mature into adulthood (8-10 days), what starts as a few fruit flies can quickly turn into hundreds of them.

Once a fruit fly hatches, the larva will feast on its surroundings. This is usually whatever piece of fruit that the egg was laid on or whatever scraps are on your surfaces and in your drains. Fruit flies will lay their eggs wherever there is a source of food for the larvae to feed on. This is why it’s also very important to keep a clean environment.

Start with a Clean Home

The first thing you want to do is start with a clean home. The cleaner your home is from the beginning, the less likely you’ll run into a full-blown infestation. Fruit flies can still be a headache, even for those with the cleanest of homes, as all it takes is one bad piece of fruit to get things going. But having a clean home does minimize the chances of fruit flies being able to breed easily. Fruit flies hate clean surfaces, so be sure to spray down your countertops regularly.

Check under any countertop appliances you have to make sure nothing has spilled underneath them that could be a food source for the fruit flies. You can also boil some water and pour it down your drains. This kills off fruit flies that are likely hiding in the drains since this one one of their favorite spots to hide and reproduce.

Fruit flies love dark, damp places and kitchen sink drains are usually sources of tiny food particles that the fruit flies can also feed on. This makes drains the perfect breeding ground for them. If your pour boiling water down your drains it will kill not only any adult flies that were there but also any eggs or larvae. This stops the vicious cycle and prevents those eggs and larvae from turning into adult flies that would have gone on to torment you in your home.

Throw Out Any Rotting Fruit

This one might seem obvious, but check to make sure you don’t have any fruit that’s going bad out and available for the fruit flies to feast on. Overly ripe bananas are usually a strong culprit of fruit flies since many people keep them out in a bowl and will sometimes use more ripe bananas for baking and recipes. Fruit flies are strongly attracted to the smell of ripening fruit and will lay their eggs on its surface. That’s the last thing we want.

Wash all fruits as soon as you bring them home from the store to remove any potential fruit fly eggs that way you don’t bring them home with you on your fruit. And if you find that any of your fruits or even vegetables are going bad, dispose of them before they begin to attract fruit flies.

Basket of rotting fruit
Rotting fruit attracts fruit flies and gives them a place to lay their eggs.

Xolodan/Shutterstock.com

Use Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a very popular trick that you can use to get rid of fruit flies in your home. It’s simple and easy to make and works pretty quickly. All you will need is a bowl, apple cider vinegar, and plastic wrap. First, fill your bowl with apple cider vinegar and then seal the top with a piece of plastic wrap. Then poke a few holes in the top of the plastic wrap with a toothpick or something of similar size. You just want the holes to be small enough for the fruit flies to get in but not big enough so that they easily fly out.

The apple cider vinegar smell will attract the fruit flies to the bowl and they’ll crawl inside through the holes you made. Once inside, it will be difficult for them to find their way out and they’ll eventually drown in the apple cider vinegar. This is one of the best natural ways to get rid of fruit flies in your home.

Mix Apple Cider Vinegar with Dish Soap

This next remedy is similar to the one above, but with an additional step. This time you want to fill a bowl with some apple cider vinegar, and then add a few drops of dish soap to it. Mix them together well. Again, the apple cider vinegar smell will attract the fruit flies to the bowl, but this time when they fly into it, the surface tension of the liquid will be decreased because of the dish soap and the fruit flies will drown immediately upon landing in the solution and be unable to escape.

For this method, you won’t need to apply the plastic wrap, as the fruit flies will break through the liquid’s surface as soon as they land and never have the opportunity to escape. Therefore there is no need for plastic wrap to trap them. This one is a great one to try if you wanted to try the apple cider vinegar trap method but didn’t have any plastic wrap on hand.

Use Beer or Wine

If you’ve got a bottle of beer or wine you’re in luck. Leave an old bottle of beer or wine out with about two inches of the liquid remaining inside near wherever you’ve seen most of the fruit flies. If you’re not sure where they’re coming from, a good place to start is by setting it near your kitchen sink. This is one of the most common places where fruit flies hide and reproduce so you’re sure to catch a good amount there.

Place the bottle near the sink on your counter and wait a day or two. The fruit flies will be lured in by the smell, but the narrow neck of the bottle will act as a natural barrier to keep them trapped once they get inside. Fruit flies aren’t the brightest and will have a hard time finding their way out of the bottle. Eventually, they will drown inside of the liquid that’s left in the bottom.

Any of these remedies will work well on their own but you may get the best results when you use them in combination with each other. Keep your drains clean by pouring boiling water down them a few times per week. This will dramatically reduce the number of fruit flies you have in your home as it will kill off any eggs or larvae that are lurking in there before they ever have the chance of reaching adulthood. This makes keeping the issue under control a lot easier and stops the reproduction cycle.

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About the Author

Freelance writer specializing in natural health and wellness.