How To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies

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These tiny, pesky critters are brown and appear to have no fear of people (often it seems they’re trying to get up your nose and in your mouth) but they’re mostly just clumsy fliers. The good news is that getting rid of and killing them is not difficult, you just need to do some cleaning, find their food source so you can remove it and lay out a trap to bait them with.

TomatoesBelow I have a few cleanup and prevention tips plus a handful of easy & natural homemade traps you can make that will capture and kill them–no need to run out for supplies since it’s likely you have all that’s needed in the kitchen already.

Fruit flies love sweets, ripe vegetables and fresh fruit, especially if it’s overripe (the fermenting process is a strong attraction for them).

If they’re in your house, they’ve found a food source to feed from and lay their eggs on. To effectively get rid of them, you need to find their food source and remove it immediately.

  • Wash kitchen counters and surfaces daily with soap and water. Wipe up sauces and spills immediately, look under heavy appliances.
  • Make sure to keep kitchen sinks and drains clean, if dirty the residue can attract them. If you think your kitchen sink drain is where they’re gathering, pour boiling water down the drain each day.
  • Make sure all food dishes are washed and put away (do not leave dirty dishes out). If food is eaten throughout the house rather than just at the kitchen table, look for dirty plates, pits, rinds and peels that may be left out in another room. Look under furniture.
  • Don’t leave beverage bottles, cans and glasses filled with juices, soda pop, wine, sweet liquors or beer sitting out–these are big attractions.
  • On hot summer days, tie up and remove garbage from the kitchen daily, the refuse and kitchen scraps start turning faster in the heat and the smell attracts them. Or make sure the garbage bin has a tight fitting lid to keep them out.
  • Make sure to rinse out all cans and bottles before placing in the recycling bins.
  • Keep food wrapped in plastic or in the refrigerator (especially overripe fruit, this is like a magnet to the little pests). These guys love to lay their eggs on food.
  • Watch the pantry, bags of potatoes and onions are quicker to turn in the heat and this will attract them. Keep pantry shelves clean of all drips and spills.

Homemade Traps

These are one of the easiest little pests to bait and kill, no elaborate setups required. Here are a handful of DIY ideas you can try, all of them are free from harsh chemicals.

Quick & Easy

  • An easy & effective trap is to set out a bowl of vinegar with a couple drops of citrus smelling liquid dish detergent. This attracts them and they drown. Lay a fresh bowl out each day to keep the smell strong enough to keep them coming.

Cider Vinegar

1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp dishwashing liquid

  • Directions: Pour into a jar or bottle and set out close to fresh produce. The smell will attract them and they will come investigate, getting themselves covered with soap and then drown.

Fresh Bait

  • Place a piece of cut fruit in a jar (use a ripe/overripe banana if you can, this seems to be their favorite). Roll a piece of paper into a funnel (cutting the bottom tip so there’s an entry) and place into the top of the jar to trap them. Make sure the bottom opening of the funnel doesn’t touch the food (you don’t want them to have an easy exit) and that the sides of the funnel fill the jar opening completely (no cracks for them to escape). Make sure to remove and replace the fresh produce every two days to avoid breeding new critters. You could also skip the funnel and just cover the jar with plastic wrap, poking a few small holes in the top for them to enter.

Coca-Cola

  • Leave an inch or two of Classic Coke in the bottom of a pop bottle and twist on the cap. Take a hammer and nail or drill to make a small hole in the cap (about 1/4″ diameter). Set the bottle in the room where the flies are heaviest. They will crawl in and won’t be able to get back out.

Beer (Works With Wine Too)

  • Fill a mason jar about 2″ to 3″ deep with beer, cover opening with a piece of plastic wrap secured with a rubber band. Poke a few holes in the top of the plastic so they can get into the jar to get at the beer–they won’t be able to get out.

Yeast

  • In a mason jar, sprinkle active dry yeast over 1/3 cup warm water. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and stir.
  • Once the yeast is activated and starts to foam, cover the jar top tightly with plastic wrap (try to keep the surface wrinkle free), secure with a rubber band.
  • Make a small hole in the top so they can find their way in, most will be unable to get out.

Tips

  • If you have an especially heavy infestation, set out a trap in a small room with the light left on overnight. Although they are most active during the day, they will be attracted to the light and make their way to the room (and their tempting trap bait).
  • Once it seems you’ve gotten rid of them, you may notice a fresh batch flying around–these are likely those that have hatched from the eggs of the previous infestation (the gestation period is about 7 to 10 days). Repeat the cleaning process and lay out the traps until there’s no recurrence. This is why it’s important to find all their food sources, they lay eggs on the food that will hatch later.

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Published: June 23, 2009
Updated: July 25, 2012

What Readers Are Saying:
51 Comments to “How To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies”
  1. melinda says:

    Thanks for the tips, I’m going in the kitchen to do this right now.

  2. Heather says:

    Last year I bought a venus fly trap plant on a whim right when the fruit flies were going crazy in our home. We had been trying to use vinegar to trap them for weeks and it wasn’t making much of a dent. But that venus fly trap worked wonders! And the plant was very happy, at least until all the fruit flies disappeared! If you can find one, try it out.

  3. stacy mansfield says:

    Here’s something else that worked for us. I read somewhere fruitflies hate peppermint. I desperately took Dr. Bronner’s Magic soap and washed all our countertops with it. We had to have about 1000 fruitflies upon the return of a vacation. Within 2 days they were all gone. We got rid of the source, but cleaning all the surfaces with the peppermint soap totally eradicated the problem. You can get Dr. Bronner’s at outdoor stores or healthfood stores. I’m curious to hear if it works for you.

    • Jenean says:

      I just started using Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds with Peppermint essential oil (better price for the gallon) and I just noticed my flies disappeared. YEAH!!

  4. Lillian says:

    The Cider Vinegar Trap really works. I made mine without the use of water. After a couple of hours there was at least 10 drown inside it.

    • Elaine says:

      I found this to be the best method too…I just use the vinegar and a few drops of liquid soap. I didn’t realize I had so many fruit flies. Something else I do is cover the dish with plastic wrap to make a tight seal…poke a few holes in the top with a toothpick. I leave it on the countertop and don’t get the vinegar smell.

  5. Ella says:

    we vacuumed them up from the area. After doing that a few times, they were gone!

  6. Trish says:

    I usually take a few tissues put sweet basil in the center close up with a peice of tape and hang around the kitchen. within 24 hours all the fruit flies are gone.

    • Cindi says:

      I tried the basil, but it did not work. They just kept flying around the basil and so I bought a basil plant. It stunk up the kitchen and the fruit flies stayed while no one else would enter the kitchen.

  7. Nicole says:

    I stumbled across a small plastic grocery bag that apparently my son missed as a part if his chores that day and found a source of these lovely little critters… my daughter’s dirty diaper (which we place in grocery bags and tie up and then put them in the trash to keep the smell away) was quite the hotspot for the fruit flies. I was so disgusted but I made sure that my son understood that this could not happen again!!

  8. Mary says:

    I had a terrible fruit fly problem a few years ago. I came across a website from a university that told how to eliminate them. They said to put apple cider vinegar in a jar, with a piece of very ripe fruit and use a paper funnel to stop escape. So this was a combination of the cider vinegar and fresh fruit traps. It really worked. I told others about it, they tried and it worked for them too. Another thing is if I had plastic grocery bags that came home with fruit or vegetables in them, I did not keep those ones. I recycled them back right away. It seemed to help a lot and I have not had a problem like that since. Thank you for posting all the great comments everyone. :-)

  9. Sarah says:

    Not to be mean or negative or anything but so far the cider vinegar trap doesn’t work

    • Misty says:

      I can not get it to work for me ether. I may get one or two but that’s all. I have a lot of house plants and I know that’s where they are coming from. The plants mean a lot and I have let them go dry. (as dry as I could, about 2 weeks) but their there. So I can’t wait to try these great ideas. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Torie says:

    The apple cider vinegar trick seems to work for almost everyone- except me. I have no idea what I’m doing wrong, but they simply hang around the vinegar instead of going in to die! However, it works as a great lure, because once they all congregate on certain areas (there are about three in my house they really like) I suck them up with the vacuum and they are no more! They were also hanging around our recycle bag for cans, and instead of stirring them up, I slapped another bag on top of it, pulled it tight over the original bag, and flipped it upside down, effectively trapping the flies without any escaping. I recommend the vacuum method if the vinegar isn’t working, it works very quickly (in about an hour I’ve cut down the population by 3/4.)

  11. meg says:

    did you try balsamic?

  12. nicci wright says:

    If the vinegar isn’t working, try using white wine, even cooking wine, with soap. It worked much better for me than the vinegar. Also, I only added about a tbsp of water and 1/3 cup of white wine.

    • vivian says:

      wine really REALLY works my grandma was using some to trap them and it kept spilling down from where it was on the top of the fridge and they wereb instantly atraccted to it.Afterwards I sprayed them with 409 and even though most of them flew away every fly that was hit ended up falling and dieing

    • Karen says:

      Try half a bowl of beer instead.

  13. BlueMc says:

    Try this – put a banana peel in a Tupperware style container. Snap the lid on one side, but leave the other side open just a hair. The fruit flies will build up inside the container within several hours. Just walk up, snap the lid shut, and go outside away from the house. Open it up and let them fly away. Take the container inside again, same setup. Within 2 days there were no more fruit flies. Just don’t use the same peel more than a couple of days. They lay eggs on it and the eggs will hatch within two days!

  14. Gea says:

    The one I swear by calls for approx. 1/2 c. water, 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar, 2 Tbs. honey, and a “squirt” of dish soap. You can adjust according to the container size you are using. This recipe has worked WONDERS for myself and family members. I just use an old mason jar and set it behind my sink when needed.

  15. Nattalie says:

    I get fruit flies when im canning peaches. I find it quick and easy to detach to hose from the vaccum and simply vaccum them up. Since the fly so slow, it work really well for me.

  16. Beth says:

    I use a dryer sheet in the bottom of my fruit basket. Just snap the dryer sheet by pulling on opposite sides, then place in your container. They never show up, or if I need to change the dryer sheet and they do show up as soon as I replace the dryer sheet, they’re gone. Replace when you can’t smell the fragrance on the dryer sheet.

  17. Michelle says:

    I first made a trap from a 2 litre coke bottle cut in half. I baited the trap with fruit; kinda gross… but I chewed on it a bit and spit it into the bottom half of the coke bottle. Then I put the top half of the bottle on with the top down, like a funnel, and sealed the edge with some packing tape.

  18. jessie says:

    you can use just about any sweet drink, i personally think theyll go for a good sweet tea the best. they seem most attracted. or even some a little but of coffee mixed with water…

  19. Patricia says:

    The trick with vinegar of any kind is to add the soap, the vinegar will attract them but the soap is what bogs them down until they drown. Ive been using vinegar traps for years and it works. I also dip a finger in the vinegar-water and rub it along the top sides of jar or glass and the rim, then I squirt some dish soap in it. I place it near the fruit on the counter top. Also, no matter how clean I keep my kitchen sometimes I still get them. A cousin gave me the tip to pour bleach down the drain as they breed in the drains. I have not tried the tip of just pouring boiling water down the drain, but I do know that the combination of vinegar traps and bleach in the drain does work. I also almost always wash all the fruit I bring home from the grocery store before putting it away, I have noticed that I occasionally get fruit flies when I do not wash the fruit I bring home so I think its likely that we are bringing home fruits and veggies with eggs on them from the grocery store. In my opinion, washing all the produce is just a good idea anyway though.

  20. Karen says:

    The most effective bait we have ever tried is balsamic vinegar. After that is a sweet red wine. We have tried apple cider vinegar, beer, fruit, sweet liquers and yeast in addition to the the two vinegars. The balsamic, hands down, was the most effective. We put about an inch in the bottom of a glass and put a paper cone in the glass instead of the plastic wrap with holes.

  21. Charlene E. says:

    All the above works to attract the fruit flys but they will just keep coming,
    especially if they are drain flies and not fruit flies. IF THERE IS A DIFFERENCE??? On another University web site (I think it was Nebaska), I found an article that says Drain Flies are hard to get rid of because they lay their
    eggs in the ‘scum’ that accumulates on old pipes. We bought a can of foam from a specialty (environmentally friendly) pest control store. The cost of this big spray can was $27. bucks!!! It did last about 3 years and did work for a
    period of time. (Spray foam till above sink drain just before retiring and leave in drain overnite). I’ve found that by keeping vinegar and other sweet
    attractions, does just that, they just keep coming. I only get 3-5 or 6 at a time. So, the University suggested pouring baking soda down the drains first and follow with BOILING WATER. I have only done this once and again it worked for a while. Probably we need to find a plumber who knows how to clean out the
    scum on the inside of the old pipes. I’ve only had this problem in one area I’ve lived in. NOW I HAVE PANTRY FLIES. WHEN DOES IT END????????

  22. Charlene E. says:

    O.K. TIPNUT, HOW COME I CAN NOT PRINT YOUR PAGES????? SOMETHING ELSE I NEED TO KNOW!!!!!!!!!

  23. wesley says:

    I put some over ripe fruit in a Ziploc bag and smash it up. Leave the top open a bit. Come back in a few hours, zip up the bag, and throw the flies away.

  24. Patti says:

    I started out with red wine and the dish soap years ago…. worked wonders… nowadays I don’t have any wine around but I find using any sweet beverage like fruit juice, coupled with the liquid soap works just as great if not better…. I have traps set out around the house because we are having a horrible problem this year, near the sink, the garbage, etc…. this really did the trick!

  25. Kristina says:

    Atlast a remedy for my pesky fruit fly aliment! I just tried this recipe a few hours ago and already 3 dead flies at the bottom of my dish! Thank you times 3 lol ;) Kristina

  26. Dawn says:

    I used hard apple cider in my trap, along with a small piece of overripe pineapple, and it worked like a charm. However, the trap will fail miserably until you clean up any trash and dirty dishes…also, keep any ripening fruit under a screened cover (to keep them from laying eggs on it), and locate the trap on the other side of the room from the fruit.

  27. Mimi says:

    I put out a trap, fly strips, and the best solution of all: I cut the bottom off a soda bottle and attached the bottle to my vacuum cleaner wand and sucked them all up. Works great!

  28. unknown says:

    try using a water sprayer

  29. Laurie T says:

    great ideas on here….love that someone actually has advice on how to get rid of these darn pests..I thought they were just around when I have fruit out but they are still here..can not wait to get rid of them :) thanks a bunch for the advice!

  30. Codd says:

    Eucalyptus oil repels all bugs! I sprinkle it around the window above my sink.
    My family and I went away for the weekend and came home to a seriouse fruit fly problem… Thank you bananas…. I should know better. But I cleaned thewhole kitchen and put a few drops of eucalyptus oil on paper towel in a glass in a few spots and there gone!! I knew other bugs didnt like eucalyptus, spiders hate it!

  31. AR says:

    I have tried apple cider vinegar with the paper funnel and it really works! One piece of advice I saw somewhere was to heat the vinegar in the microwave to attract them more quickly (becomes more scented). I will sometimes “refresh” the trap by reheating it after a few hours – kills the bugs inside too!

  32. marklsmith says:

    Love the micro-wave thing! Every one has an old micro. I’m going to try the pop bottle cut and a cone inserted with balsamic vinegar or dead fruit inside it. Once enough of them have accumulated, close the door, nuke them for a few seconds, Presto! Bonus the bait becomes all the more enticing!

  33. Brenda says:

    I need help. The fruit flies are driving me crazy. I tried the vinegar and soap does not work they love my coffee pot!!

  34. Shauna says:

    After reading this, I instantly mixed a bowl of vinegar, water and soap and before I could even get the plastic wrap on it, the fruit flies were all over it. Since we live on a ranch that grows fruit for a living, it’s hard to get rid of these guys for good, but hopefully this helps, the flies are driving me crazy!

  35. Dar says:

    I came home from vacation and my window was full of flies. It seriously was straight out of a horror movie. I sprayed and they kept coming back. Someone told me to pour a can of coke in my house plants. I did and to my delight the flies disappeared. I don’t understand the madness but apparently the larvae was living in my house plants.

  36. Gianna says:

    Our little infestation was a pain in the butt, so I decided to use your vinegar + soap + water recipe and it worked wonders! They were really attracted to the cups and at first it looked like not many were caught until we emptied the cup. There were at least 30 fruit flies at the bottom! Now we have a few cups of this throughout the house.

  37. Matt says:

    A great trap device is using a soda bottle cut the top cone section off and flip it over and stick it inside bottom piece(without lid).

  38. Ali says:

    We use the coke bottle and turn it upside down like a cone but we just throw a banana peel in the bottom of it. Works great. We use tape on the cut edge tho to keep them in there. Hubby like to use duck tape and call it his red neck fly catcher.

  39. Clem says:

    The dish soap is essential for two reasons:

    1. It will break the surface tension of the liquid in the trap (surface tension is what allows small insects to “walk on water” and not sink…the soap makes the water “slippery” and the insects cannot stay on the surface), making your kill rate much higher, and

    2. The soap itself will dissolve the insect’s cuticle and dissolve its innards so it dies even if it somehow avoids drowning in the liquid.

    That’s why a soap and water spray is a very effective method of killing soft-bodied pests like aphids in the garden. Use real soap, though, not detergent. Detergents may harm plants; soap will not.

  40. Angela Greene says:

    Hi, I really need some help. I do not know what they are, these little bugs that fly around my house. I can’t say that they are fruit flies. I don’t really have alot of fruit around. I do have house plants. These flies are so annoying. Please help me with something, that maybe I could use to get rid of this problem. Can I use the same recipe for the fruit flies? These things are driving me crazy!!!!!

  41. Linda says:

    I had a houseful of what I guess are fruit flies – tho not as big as some I have seen. They were driving me crazy – even flying into my nose. What’s worse, I work at home and I had a few swarming a client. Ick! I had some flying insect spray and did a round of that. It was a hassle to be outside of the house while it worked & to keep my dogs out. Plus, the directions say to air the house out thoroughly – Hard to do with no door or window screens.

    Desperate for a solution, I found the suggestion on another forum to use beer and a few drops of dish liquid. I covered some jars loosely, some tightly and left some uncovered. It works no matter what method! I was skeptical when I left the house for about 90 minutes after putting multiple traps out (including 2 in the kitchen, 3 in the den and one in all other rooms). To my surprise I was able to watch a movie without being dive bombed upon my return, tho a few strays remain.

    One suggestion was to squirt some lemon juice in the beer. I did so for a few of the jars – we’ll see how it works. I also poured bleach down ALL drains and made sure all food sources (including wet dog food) were wrapped up and disposed of.

    Owing to the little buggers’ life cycle I expect to have to keep the “beer bash” going for awhile. Funny side note: I am 57 and this was the first timeever buying beer in my life. (OK, maybe sad!) Hopefully there won’t be a next time but if there is I might try the balsamic vinegar.


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