How do I get rid of all these fruit flies???

We have fruit flies everywhere and I NEED to get rid of them somehow. Yesterday, one of my sons said, “Mom, you have a FRUIT FLY EMERGENCY!” And he’s right!  At this time of year, I usually have a lot of fresh produce sitting around my kitchen. Some of it, for better or for worse, needs to sit on the counter for a few days to ripen fully.

I’ve been buying fabulous peaches that are so delicious, the juice just drips off my hands when I eat them, BUT the day I buy them, they’re not ripe yet. If I put them in the fridge, they’ll never ripen into juicy, sweet perfection. But when I let them ripen on the counter…. the fruit flies….ACK!

So yesterday I was moaning about the fruit fly emergency at my house to my good friend Sarah Pinnix  and she gave me the goods on how to take care of those pesty flies. Build fruit fly traps. No, no power tools are required (I would LOVE to go after them with a blow torch but I hate to think of all the unintended consequences to that idea.)

These are the things you need:

You’ll need small, shallow bowls. I used ramekins but even a saucer would work.

Pour a couple of ounces of apple cider vinegar into the bowl. No need to feed the fruit flies special expensive organic natural apple cider vinegar; just buy the cheapest you can find.

Squirt a dollop of dish soap into the vinegar and stir up with a fork.

Set the dish of soap and vinegar back out of the way, preferably near the source of the fruit flies. For me, this means right next to my compost container and back in the corner by the fruit bowl.

In less than 30 minutes, my bowls had hundreds of little fruit flies floating in them. Not one of the floating flies was moving. Hooray! I considered taking a photo of the dead fruit flies but decided that that’s just a little disgusting.

I realize that in a few weeks, the fruit flies will be a distant memory of summer, but for right now, I’ll take all the relief I can get!


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  1. I think I would appreciate a macabre little fruit fly death scene.

    We used to have problems with fruit flies at our old apartment, but we haven’t at our current place. Still, I’m glad to know of this method.

    I remember refusing to kill fruit flies in my high school biology classes (just to be obnoxious, since I didn’t like my teacher, I think), and now I wonder at my forbearance.

  2. Yep. You’ve got the cure for those fruit flies. I did that last summer and the kids starting running for the cup of vinegar every morning to see how many fruit flies were in there. : ) Kinda gross, no?

  3. We do something similar, but I cover the bowls with plastic wrap that’s got lots of holes poked in it. Seems they have no trouble getting in through the holes, but aren’t likely to get out.

    There are ‘traps’ set all over my house right now – I got a little carried away with them when fruit flies kept drowning in my margarita the other night!

  4. I also tried your method, but didn’t have as much success…maybe I used the wrong soap (used powdered laundry soap). So, I built my own trap.

    I set an open bowl of food scraps destined for the compost on the window sill. When I notice a bunch of flies atop the bowl, I quickly throw open the window, which has the screen already put up) and swat at the flies in the direction of the outside. I unload a ton of fruit flies this way.

    • Jackie, it might well be the soap. Someone told me that the dish soap creates a surface tension that makes it impossible for the fruit flies to escape. I don’t know if that’s true, but if it is, that might explain why powdered laundry soap doesn’t work.

  5. It definitely needs to be liquid dish soap.
    We tried the vinegar, but that didn’t work well for us. We also used mom’s old trick of using beer. That caught some, but not a huge amount. What really worked was a bowl of red wine with a few drops of dish soap, then covered with plastic wrap with some holes in it. Worked like a charm, and we were bug free in about a day or two.

  6. Scott…the old ‘stale beer in a pie plate’ is for catching snails and slugs. At least they die happy!

  7. I do the “mostly wrapped bowl” method personally, I don’t want those suckers getting out! One thing that also helps to bring ’em in is putting some sugar in the mix. I use cheap cider vinegar, put in a big spoonful of sugar, mix it in until it’s dissolved, put a drop of dish washing liquid on top & cover the bowl with plastic wrap leaving a sliver for them to get in.

    You are also supposed to pour ammonia down your drains at night & block them with a towel. Supposedly they’re breeding down in your drains. I rarely do this though, and the traps seem to take care of the problem for the most part.

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