The fruit fly is a well-known kitchen pest that is seen during summer and fall when produce is at its ripest. Also referred to as the vinegar fly, they are attracted to a variety of fruits and vegetables that are left out by homeowners to fully ripen. While fruit flies are harmless to humans and animals, they can contaminate produce once they find their way into your home.
Because of their tiny size, fruit flies can easily enter a home through screen doors and windows. The flying insects are also brought into the home by produce purchased at the local market or your garden.
The fruit fly ranges from a mere 1/16th of an inch to 3/16th of an inch, so small that they are rarely seen by the human eye. Their body is yellow with a tan or black abdomen and red eyes.
A female fruit fly deposits anywhere from 500 to 2,000 eggs at a time on fermented fruits and vegetables. Eggs hatch in 24 hours and larvae emerge, feeding for about a week on the yeast of fermented vegetable matter before they begin the pupae stage.
Adult flies emerge two days later and begin the meeting stage immediately.
Fruit flies breed anywhere there is dampness or decaying matter. These pests will even breed in kitchen sink drains if given the opportunity. Other common breeding areas include garbage cans, tile grout, and in bathroom hampers where damp laundry resides.
Because these pests can and will breed almost anywhere, pesticide sprays don't work and will only temporarily resolve the pesky problem. Plus it just isn't safe to use chemicals around food sources.
Natural control can help reduce the pests and keep harmful chemicals out of your kitchen and home.
Sanitation is a priority. When fruit flies do not have access to decaying fruits and vegetable matter they won't breed.
Keeping your kitchen and bathroom free from moisture may also help reduce a fruit fly attack.
Store produce in the refrigerator rather than on counters where the flying pests have access to it.
Seal all garbage or compostable scraps in an airtight container with a lid. Keep the inside of garbage cans clean.
Be sure all areas of kitchen surfaces are clean and dry, including under the stove and refrigerator where food particles can fall.
If you have a concern that the fruit flies may be in your sink drain, cover it with plastic wrap that has a layer of double-sided sticky tape on it, then check for flies the next day.
Clean your sink drains and garbage disposal naturally with equal parts baking soda and vinegar at least once a day.
Repair any leaky drain pipes under your kitchen sink to discourage female fruit flies from laying eggs.
Invest in sticky traps and hang in kitchen trash cans and other areas the flies may gather.
Cover the bottom of a small flan dish with beer or wine, seal the top of the dish with a piece of plastic wrap that has a pencil size hole in the middle to create a trap for fruit flies. The yeast from the beer or wine attracts the flies who climb into the dish, but can't 'find their way back out.
Place lavender or cloves around your kitchen which is known for discouraging fruit flies.
Finally, keep in mind that even with the above steps, you may still see a fruit fly or two remaining around your kitchen until the weather turns colder, as it is almost impossible to completely rid your home of the pests.