How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in the House

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in the House

If you like to keep fresh fruit in your home, then you’ve likely had the annoying experience of picking up a piece of ripe fruit only to be assaulted by a flurry of fruit flies buzzing into the air. In this article, we’ll explore what fruit flies are, why they’re in your home, and most importantly, how to be rid of them.

To get rid of fruit flies, you can build a simple homemade fruit fly trap using a jar, apple cider vinegar, and a small amount of liquid dish soap.

What Are Fruit Flies

Fruit flies are small brownish flies with red eyes. There are over 3,000 species of them, and they can be found anywhere that there are people. They may be annoying, but they are also fascinatingly well adapted to living alongside humans. What’s more, they have been used to help make many significant scientific breakthroughs. So they’re not all bad.

Are They Dangerous?

The good news is that fruit flies are not at all dangerous. They don’t carry any diseases that can pass to humans, and they don’t cause your fruit to rot or ripen any faster. All they are is an annoyance.

What Attracts The Fruit Flies

Fruit flies on unpeeled banana

Fruit flies eat the yeast that sits on top of the surface of your fruit and other food items. Overripe fruit has more yeast on its surface, so you will often get larger concentrations of fruit flies around the ripest fruit in your bowl. Rotten fruit will but just as appealing. This is why you may find fruit flies around your trash cans or garbage disposal.

Getting Rid of a Fruit Fly Infestation

There are two critical steps to dealing with an infestation of fruit flies. The first is to make your home less hospitable to them. The second is to build a trap to catch those that remain.

Making Your Home Less Appealing 

If you find that you have a fruit fly infestation, the first thing you’ll want to do is check your fruit bowl. If there is any overripe or rotten fruit in there, it’s best to get rid of it. Instead of throwing it away, try putting it in your fridge where the flies can’t get at it. If you have space, you might want to keep all your ripe fruit in the refrigerator.

Getting into the habit of cleaning your kitchen drain once a month will prevent the build-up of debris and food waste. This can quickly become a breeding ground for flies.

Try to avoid leaving out open containers of fruit juice, beer, or other fermented food/drink items. If you have any spills of these items, make sure to clean them up as quickly as possible.

How to Make A Fruit Fly Trap at Home

Vinegar fruit fly trap - a safe way to get rid of fruit flies at home

Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to build a safe and effective fruit fly trap. You likely have all you need at home. Otherwise, you can pick up any missing items the next time you go to the grocery store.

You’ll need the following items for your homemade trap:

  • A mason jar/drinking glass/empty jar
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber bands
  • Apple cider vinegar or other fermented liquid
  • Optional – lemon zest/juice

To set up your trap, you’ll need to fill your jar about half full of apple cider vinegar. The vinegar smells strongly of fermentation, the yeast that’s present will attract the flies. You then need to add a few drops of liquid dish soap to the vinegar. 

The dish soap breaks the surface tension of the vinegar. This means that when the flies try to land on the water surface, it won’t support them, and they fall into the liquid instead.

Over the top of the jar, you’ll want to create a lid with a few holes in it. The holes should be sized so that the flies can crawl through them but can’t easily fly back out. The easiest way to make a lid is to stretch some plastic wrap over the top of your jar and secure it in place with a rubber band. Alternatively, if you have a lid for the pot, you can just punch holes into that directly.

If you keep the jar near your fruit bowl, it should attract the flies. If it’s not quite attractive enough, you can try adding a couple of drops of lemons juice or lemon zest.

Fruit Fly Trap

When It Might Not Be Fruit Flies

Fungus Gnats are often mistaken for fruit flies. If the flies in your home are congregating around your fruit bowl, then the chances are that you have a fruit fly problem. However, if they are concentrated around your indoor plants, then you likely have fungus gnats instead.

If you look closely, they do appear to be similar in size. But, fungus gnats are black and look a little like mosquitoes, while fruit flies are brown with bright red eyes.

Fungus gnats tend to enter your home through open windows. They are attracted to the fungus that grows on the top of moist soil in plant pots. The adult flies will lay their eggs on the earth, and the growing larvae can eat the roots of your potted plants. They are definitely a pest you want to get rid of.

Your first step to getting rid of fungus gnats is to control the soil’s moisture in your potted plants. If you keep the moisture level lower, it reduces the growth of fungus on the soil surface.

Fungus Gnats on yellow sticky tape
Used yellow sticky tape to trap fungus gnats

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I keep fruit flies off my fruit?

There are two options. The first is to keep your fruit in place the flies can’t get to, your fridge, for example. The second option is to set up a fruit fly trap to catch the flies before they get to your fruit.

What causes fruit flies in the house?

The most common way for fruit flies to get into your home is as eggs. There is a high chance that any produce you bring home from the store will have microscopic fruit fly eggs on it. Once the fruit has been in your home for a few days, the eggs hatch. The adult flies congregate around your fruit bowl.

Will fruit flies go away on their own?

As long as you have fruits and vegetables in places the flies can access, they will stay.

How do I get rid of fruit flies without apple cider vinegar?

If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, other good options to try include balsamic vinegar and beer. You can mix it up in the same way with a small amount of dish soap and a bit of fruit juice/zest.