bowl of apple cider vinegar becomes trap for fruit flies

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies Quick and Easy

Fruit flies are amazing and by that, I mean amazingly annoying! These tiny creatures can detect the smell of ripe fruits and vegetables from miles away.

green fruit bowl filled with ripe fruit

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If there’s a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter, there’s probably a fruit fly or two looking for a way into your home to get to it. They’re so small, they can get in through window screens or crevices around windows or doors. Unlike houseflies, which may spread disease, fruit flies are harmless.

Once inside, fruit flies reproduce like crazy. They lay their eggs near the surface of your ripe fruit—and they can lay up to 500 eggs at a time! About 30 hours later, tiny larvae emerge and feed on the fruit, eventually turning into pupae. A week later, they are ready to take to the air.

All it takes is one pregnant fruit fly to get in and before you know it, you’re dealing with a full-fledged fruit fly infestation. I know. I’ve been battling this problem, too!

If you’re tired of fruit flies taking over, start by tossing out anything fresh that is overripe. Next, clean the muck from your sink drains and eliminate wet sponges, mops, and the like. Then try one of these effective remedies to banish fruit flies from your home.

Those disgusting little flies are no match for these super easy traps and potent potions!

A bowl of soup on a clear day, with Fruit and Fly

Fruit fly trap

See that photo above? That’s a picture of one of my fly traps, so I know this works. To make this simple trap, assemble these supplies:

    • a small glass bowl
    • plastic wrap
    • unfiltered apple cider vinegar (no substitute, please)
    • liquid dishwashing detergent

Pour some unfiltered apple cider vinegar into the bowl. Add one drop of liquid dishwashing detergent. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, pulling the wrap back just a tiny bit at one edge to allow for entry. (By the way, I removed the plastic wrap before I took the photo to provide for visual clarity.)

Don’t skip any of these steps. The apple cider vinegar by itself has significant “surface tension.” That means the fly can actually walk on the surface, take a sip, and then use it for a runway to take off. The soap breaks that surface tension and the plastic wrap helps make sure that sucker gets hopelessly trapped.

That’s it. Just set the bowl out on the counter and go about your business.

Red wine

Fruit flies love the sweetness of red wine. Try leaving out an uncorked bottle with a small amount of wine left. Add a drop of liquid dishwashing soap to break the surface tension then just set it on the counter. The skinny neck will trap the flies.

Bottles with red wine

Paper cone

Place a small amount of unfiltered apple cider vinegar, a chunk of very ripe fruit, or fruit juice in a jar. Roll a piece of paper into a cone and stick it in the jar with the narrow opening downward. Fruit flies will be drawn in but they can’t get out.

apple cider vinegar and a paper funnel inserted into a cup are used as an at home fruit fly trap

Fly punch

I’ve had reports from multiple readers who say that Aunt Fannie’s FlyPunch! works better for them to attract and eliminate fruit flies than any other remedy they’ve tried. This non-toxic formula that contains sodium lauryl sulfate and malic acid is fast, powerful, and easy to use. And it is reported to last up to 30 days.

Aunt Fannie's Fly Punch fruit fly trap

Eliminate breeding grounds

The way to prevent fruit flies is to not attract them in the first place. Keeping your kitchen and dining area clean and free of potential fruit fly breeding grounds will go a long way in stopping an infestation before it begins.

  • Instead of leaving ripe or damaged fruit out on the counter where fruit flies have easy access, refrigerate or throw it away.
  • Make sure you regularly remove garbage from the house and make sure you have a  tightly fitting lid on your trash can.
  • Clean up any spilled fruit juice, beer, and wine quickly before fruit flies catch a whiff of their favorite food. Don’t leave half-empty drinks out.
  • If you have any slow-moving drains in your house, there may be enough organic matter hanging out inside your pipes to support a breeding population of fruit flies. You can tape some plastic wrap over suspect drains for a few days to check for fruit flies. If you see adults on the underside of the plastic, you’ve got some breeding in your drain.
  • To fix any drainage issues, pour boiling hot water directly into the drain (boiling water could crack porcelain, so be very careful when using on that type of sink) to help loosen accumulated deposits. If accessible, you can also use a firm brush to scrub the inside of the pipe and free debris.

 

First published: 11-11-13; Updated 7-15-20

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6 replies
  1. Lyrrem says:

    Dear Mary,
    Fruit flies hate the smell of cork… place a few clean corks* from empty wine or champagne bottles in the fruit bowl – keeps the flies away… it’s an old Portuguese trick! (*must be real cork not the new, plastic corks).

    Reply
  2. Wendy says:

    Beer works, too! I have used beer instead of apple cider vinegar in a bowl/jar and beer instead of wine leftover in a bottle. Best part is that I do not need to buy anything else–I use what I have which is the cheapest of all!

    Reply
  3. Laura says:

    Just an FYI: Regular white vinegar seems to work too! Found this out accidentally when I was cleaning my coffee pot. I always rinse it and the basket out, then fill them both with soapy water and a generous splash of white vinegar, and let it sit for hours. If there are fruit flies around they will find their way into the pot. Clean coffee pot and no fruit flies!

    Reply
  4. Karen Ranieri says:

    Please!! don’t throw out the overripe fruit! Pam or parchment a baking sheet, slice the fruit, an line it up, with some space between the pieces, and freeze it. Once frozen solid, put in a tupperware or a ziplock in the freezer and it won’t stick together. Add to a morning smoothie of yogurt, ice, wheat germ and milk. Layer attractively on a square of puff pastry and glaze with apricot jam and bake 13 mins at 425 for a fast and fantastic dessert (a la mode if you must!). If you have a BUNCH, blend with some fruit juice or fresh herbs for a chilled pre-dinner shot of soup. Or bubble in a small saucepan with just enough water to barely cover, plus a spoonful of jam or powdered jello mix until fruit is liquified, strain out seeds if it’s berries. Puree if you want smoother consistency. If not, cool and pour over ice cream or anything else. (Add sugar if too tart or additional flavorings).

    But don’t toss it!! Love ya, Mary.

    Reply
  5. Bonnie Alcorn says:

    I had one or two flies buzzing around my head that I could not get with a flyswatter. I bought a product called Catchmaster, that is a transparent glue trap for flies that goes on a window. I still haven’t caught the 2 flies…they seem to have disappeared. But I have several dozen fruit flies (so far) stuck to it that I didn’t even know I had.

    Reply
  6. Shannon says:

    I worked in a lab that experimented with drosophila (fruit flies). They easily escaped the lab and entered the office area. Our traps were yeast inside small jars with a cone inserted. They were attracted to the yeast but couldn’t navigate the cone opening as an exit point.

    Reply

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