Stubborn pests. These pests are not only attracted to fruits but also to fermenting organic matter. They also have caused millions of dollars in losses in the fruit industry. This is why you should eradicate them as soon as possible.
The four best ways to get rid of fruit flies naturally are:
– Eradicate their breeding site,
– Remove the source of their attraction,
– Create fruit flies traps, and
– Use essential oils.
All of them are effective. However, you should first identify the place where they breed.
In this article, you will learn where you can find fruit flies and how to get rid of them naturally.
Where Do Fruit Flies Stay Most of the Time?
As mentioned above, fruits are the most favorite places for fruit flies. Female fruit flies punch the skin of a fruit and lay their eggs inside. Once the eggs hatch into larvae, which may take between 24 and 30 hours, they will leave bacteria which will cause the fruit to fall from the tree early and eventually rot.
However, fruit flies also love fermenting items but not only sugary food or any food for that matter. They also love wine, beer, soda, and fruit juice. This is why you can also find them at the bottom of beer cans, cleaning sponges and rags, and garbage cans, especially with wrappers and used table tissue.
Likewise, you can also see them flying around in fruit stores and markets, as well as fruit gardens. Unfortunately, their infestation in the fruit industry has played a vital role in economic losses in agriculture.
How Can Fruit Flies Follow You Inside Your House?
It might seem that fruit flies appear inside your house out of nowhere. They can easily smell fruits, and they can follow you while you are going home from the market. In most cases, they were inside your fruit basket.
Because fruit flies cannot resist the smell of fruits, they will do everything to enter your house. These smart pests are so small that they can pass through tiny holes and cracks without you noticing them. They have no problem squeezing their bodies and flying up to your attic just to enter the house.
Why Fruit Flies Are Not Easy to Eradicate?
Getting rid of fruit flies inside your home is not as easy as you think. Although there are effective ways to eliminate them, you will need a truckload of patience, and you have to repeat the steps over and over again. So, before you start taking action, here are some important facts about them:
1. Fruit Flies Are Very Small
Fruit flies are only about 3-4 mm in length and are much smaller than house flies. On the other hand, their eggs are only 1/2 mm in length and are almost not visible to the human eye. This is why they can enter your house through wall cracks, damaged window screens, and while you’re opening or closing the door.
2. Fruit Flies Are Excellent Flyers
Fruit flies can beat their wings 200 times per second and fly as far as 9 miles (14.5 kilometers) in a straight flight without stopovers. These hardworking pests can also make rapid turns and even rotate 90° in less than 50 milliseconds.
3. Fruit Flies Reproduce Very Fast
Just like most insects, the life cycle of fruit flies has 4 stages – egg, larvae, pupa, and adult.
A female fruit fly can lay up to 20 eggs in a single sitting and about 500 eggs in its lifetime. After about 24 hours, these eggs will hatch into larvae. Meanwhile, the egg and the larvae stages usually take 6-8 days.
On the other hand, the full pupal stage usually lasts 5-6 days. During this time, you will notice that the developing fruit fly will grow its elongated wings and abdomen. A few days later, the adult fruit fly will emerge. Amazingly, fruit flies will become sexually mature in just 48 hours and can live between 40 and 50 days.
4 Natural Ways to Eradicate Fruit Flies Inside Your Home
You can also use insecticides to kill fruit flies, and they are effective, too. However, insecticides contain toxic chemicals that can harm you, your family, and your plants as well. This is why you might consider using natural methods. Here are four of them:
1. Eradicate Their Breeding Site
So far, the best natural way to control fruit flies is to remove their breeding site or at least reduce their reproduction rate. Here are some effective ways to do it:
- Wash fruits and vegetables as soon as you arrive home.
- Avoid buying plenty of ripe fruits that you cannot eat at once.
- If you will not eat the fruits right away, place them inside the refrigerator or in a sealed container.
- Before storing the fruits, check if they have cracks or damaged parts and cut if there are any. This will eliminate the eggs hiding in those areas.
- Check beneath your refrigerator or food cabinet if there are decaying vegetables such as onions and potatoes.
- Wash plastic bags from the market before throwing them away. Otherwise, they are also ideal breeding places for fruit flies.
- Freeze fruits and vegetables before they become compost. This will kill the eggs inside.
2. Remove Sources of Attraction
As mentioned earlier, fruit flies are also attracted to beer, wine, soda, and sweetened juice. Just like fruits, some of these sources of attraction can also be their breeding site. Once you remove them, you are also discouraging other house pests such as rodents and house flies.
Here’s how to remove them:
- Make sure you clean any spillage on the table and floor.
- Clean your kitchen utensils, including can and bottle opener, after using them.
- Wash cleaning materials such as mops and rags every day.
- Replace dishwashing sponges regularly.
- Always empty your garbage cans every night.
- Make sure garbage bins are clean and dry before using them again in the morning.
- During the daytime, cover the garbage cans properly and avoid placing them inside your house.
- Clean the drain of your kitchen sink with apple cider vinegar.
- Before storing recyclable items such as bottles and cans, properly clean them.
- Have a regular schedule for general housekeeping, once a week or every other week, depending on the size of your home.
Note that this is not just any ordinary kind of cleaning. It includes checking every corner of the house, organizing your closets, replacing bedsheets and curtains, and removing unnecessary items that fruit flies are attracted to. If you think you need help, you can ask a professional house cleaner to do the job.
3. Create Fruit Fly Traps
As the name suggests, a fruit fly trap is anything that can cause fruit flies to be trapped and killed naturally. Here, you will use bait to attract these stubborn pests, so they will fall for these traps. Because you already know what attracts them, you can easily create traps for them.
Here’s a step-by-step guide:
Step 1: Put a small amount of apple cider vinegar (not white vinegar) or red wine in a bowl.
Step 2: Cover the top very tightly using a rubber band or plastic wrap.
Step 3: Punch some holes in the wrap big enough for fruit flies to fit in.
Step 4: Add some drops of liquid soap so the fruit flies will get drown.
Step 5: Once the fruit flies crawl in, they will never be able to come out alive.
As an alternative to apple cider vinegar, you can use liquor such as beer and wine or any fruit juice.
Step 1: Put a small strip of ripened banana inside a bowl.
Step 2: Instead of plastic wrap, use a small piece of paper to make a funnel where fruit flies can pass through.
Step 3: While the fruit flies are busy with the banana, pour liquid soap or vinegar until the pests will be poisoned and die.
If there is no available banana, you can use other fruits such as apples and even vegetables, such as potatoes. However, adding vinegar isn’t always necessary.
4. Use Essential Oils
To stop fruit flies from flying around the house, spray or soak some essential oils and use them as a diffuser. You may also place a basil plant near the fruit bowl or sprinkle the leaves on the fruit. Clove, eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, and peppermint can also be used. Fruit flies cannot tolerate these strong smells.
List of Sources
Russell, H. (2013). How to get rid of fruit flies in your home. Michigan State University.
Merchant, M. (2016). Indoor Flies and Their Control. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.
Williams, R. (2020). How to get rid of fruit flies in your house. Texas A&M University.
Potter, M. F. (1994). Fruit Flies. University of Kentucky.