During spring, you’ll find masses of tiny flies with a silvery sheen flying about your backyard. They appear on the porch lights and windows, buzzing annoyingly around your head. You probably call them fruit flies, but true fruit flies are a different species and infest fruit in orchards. Entomologists call them vinegar flies because they’re attracted to any souring, fermenting, or liquefying vegetable matter.
Masses of tiny flies. You probably call them fruit flies, but true fruit flies are a different species and infest fruit in orchards. Entomologists call them vinegar flies because they’re attracted to any souring, fermenting, or liquefying vegetable matter.
Where Fruit Flies Live
They are found everywhere in North America.
Fruit Flies life Cycle
Vinegar flies become sexually active only two days after emergence, but hey, they only live eight to ten days.
Plants They Attack
Some species are small enough to fit through window screen mesh—they are attracted to light—but mostly they hitch a ride into your home on produce. Besides fruit, other places vinegar flies breed and eat are in potatoes, onions, cracked tomatoes (usually infested while still on the vine), and foods containing yeast; in beer cans, wet mops, sink drains, recycling, or garbage bins, compost buckets, and warm beds.
Why They’re a Problem
In theory, vinegar flies can transmit disease, because they live around food and alight on both clean and contaminated surfaces. But unlike houseflies, there’s no evidence that they do. They are primarily a nuisance.
Organic Damage Control
The best way to control vinegar flies is to break the breeding cycle. First, clean up all overripe or decaying fruits and vegetables. Second, keep a clean kitchen by dumping trash frequently and cleaning up after meals. Lastly, control the flies by using sticky yellow traps or yellow glue boards positioned under kitchen cabinets. The traps and glue boards are available at most hardware stores.
Sugar substitutes such as Equal may also help reduce breeding by flies because they’re unable to produce offspring without sugar. Dumping out any liquids that have been around for several days will help eliminate the flies too. Clean well-used utensils, pots, pans, and dishes with hot soapy water and then dry them. Clean the countertop thoroughly with hot water and a good disinfectant cleaner such as Formula 409 or Lysol spray.
Cleanliness is next to flawlessness. The best way to eliminate vinegar flies, according to Steven B. Jacobs, senior extension associate at Penn State University, is to use good sanitary practices. Don’t allow overripe fruits or vegetables to lie around; either dispose of them in a lidded container or keep them in the refrigerator. Rinse beer cans and other containers before they go into the recycling bin or garbage can.
Rinse mops with hot water and allow them to dry out. Pour boiling water down sink drains (bleach and ammonia don’t work). Empty and rinse compost buckets daily. Cover food scraps in the worm bin with bedding, and remove any scraps the worms don’t appear to be eating.
There was a time I didn’t have fruit flies in my house but that was back when food never sat around long enough to get ripe. Well, I don’t eat like that anymore and now we have fruit flies in our house.
With three of us around it’s easy to leave a fruit sitting somewhere that gets a bit too ripe and they just seem to appear out of nowhere.
Add the fact we had our biggest and best year for produce from our vegetable garden which meant lots of ripe veggies around the kitchen and we’ve had more fruit flies than we’ve ever seen.
It wasn’t much fun trying to relax and watch a movie while having fruit flies crossing your field of view every few seconds. Even more annoying when trying to eat.
Learn A Cool Method For Catching Fruit Flies
Jenny and I were invited to a family get-together this summer. As we enjoyed the gorgeous day, next to the pool, we were attacked. Well, our beverages were attacked by wasps and while catching or killing them I mention how I’d rather have the fruit flies.
My niece Bobbi-Jo shared how she takes care of fruit flies at the bar she works at.
First, she told us they breed in the drains and that each fly can produce as many as 500 eggs. Well, we didn’t see that many fruit flies but the few we had sure were annoying. The remedy she used was a bit of bleach down the drain at closing and keeping it covered until the next morning.
For capturing the fruit flies she told us to use a bowl with a piece of ripe fruit in it. We would then need to cover it with plastic wrap, poke a few small holes, just big enough to allow them in. They would get in easily but would not get out again.
It was actually a bit gross to see all the fruit flies this method caught but better caught than flying around my head. I would take the dish and put it straight in the freezer and in a little while they would all be dead and in the garbage. Thanks for the tip Bobbi
Today when I came into my office and loaded Youtube I noticed I had a few more contact requests. The first one was from a guy that grows some pretty good tomatoes so I subscribed. The second was from a guy that had a great video on How To Make A Fruit Fly Trap.
Right from the thumbnail shot of the video I knew it was going to be pretty easy as well as re-usable. Here’s the video. I hope it is as helpful to you as it is for us.