How to Naturally Get Rid of Fruit Flies

by heather

filedrosophilaHere’s the good news: I now have several egg cartons, tin cans, and plastic trays full of sprouting herbs and vegetables. Whoo-hoo!

The bad news? All this indoor planting has created a fruit fly population explosion at my house.

The little buggers have hatched in the soil I guess. I used Miracle Grow, and have no idea how they got in there. But, they did. Now, they’re all over my dining room, where my little sprouties are trying to grow.

I’ve tried using a glass of wine, and a glass of OJ (thinking they’d be attracted to the sweetness and drown). Neither strategy worked.

I was looking up natural ways to get rid of these guys today, and thought if you’re sprouting seeds right now too, you might have the same problem.

And thus, a blog post is born!

So, here are some natural ways to get rid of fruit flies or gnats in your home.

1. Dark Beer

This is my next tactic. Apparently, fruit flies love beer, so if you put some beer in a shallow dish, they’ll flock to it and drown.

2. Use a Soda Bottle

I found this awesome tip on TheDollarStretcher.com

Here is is:

I grow tomatoes, and I have found a great way to trap the flies when ripening fruit inside. To trap the fruit flies, I take a 600ml or bigger soft drink bottle (soda bottle for the non-Aussies!) and cut it in half round ways about a third of the way down from the top. Put an old tomato or some fruit in the bottom of the bottle with a small amount of water. Take the top third of the bottle without its lid and turn it upside down and put it into the bottle (like a funnel). The flies can fly in, but don’t make it back out again!
-Barbara – Australia.

3. Use Vinegar

Is there anything vinegar can’t do? It’s like the miracle liquid.

Put some vinegar in a small jelly jar. Cover the top with a paper or plastic funnel. They’ll fly in but not be able to fly out. I’m sure you could also use this one with the soda bottle hack mentioned above.

4. Use A Banana

I found this awesome idea on HubPages.

Here it is:

1. Get a small jar you don’t plan on using again (like a baby food jar or something similar) and wash it out well. Make sure it is not a jar with a funky smell such as a used pickle jar or anything that use to have strong spices. You want a clean, odorless jar.

2. Take a chunk of banana and place inside the jar. This is why you want a clean, odorless jar – so that the banana smell won’t be overpowered by other not-so-tempting smells. Banana seems to work the best, but you can experiment.

3. Fit a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the jar, making sure that it fits tight and well sealed around the edges. Then take a pen or pencil and poke 4 to 5 holes in the plastic, just big enough for a fruit fly to fit into. Once a fruit fly crawls in, it can’t get out. You would think they would just fly back out through the holes, but they won’t!

4. Place the jar in an area where you have seen the most fruit flies. Depending on the amount of fruit flies you have, you can expect to start seeing the jar fill up within just a few hours. After 24 hours, you will discover just how bad your fruit fly problem is!

Last Word…

I don’t often wage war on the natural world, but the fruit flies have to go. They’ve also migrated upstairs and are now infesting the house plants in my office and on my desk. Which means they’ve been buzzing around my head all day!

I’m feeling confident that at least ONE of these strategies will work.

Do you have any frugal and eco-friendly ways to get rid of fruit flies? I’d love to hear them!

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Danielle@Newlyweds Paradise March 17, 2010 at 1:56 pm

OMG! I have this same problem, only with my house plants! I was told to put soapy water on my plants, but I killed some of them. I am going to try your ways because I hate those little buggers!

heidi March 17, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Hehe, one of my friends tried the Venus Fly Trap approach and got mad because the plant never ate any of the flies 😉

In other news, you can make a veritable feast for your insect friends outside; mix dark beer, an old banana and some brown sugar… just smear it on a branch or fence post and the butterflies (and wasps and fig beetles and bees and “stink bugs”) will think you’re the coolest person in the neighborhood. Or you can use that combination as bait in the soda bottle trap inside…

Jen @ GBG March 17, 2010 at 3:20 pm

We got a little personal bug zapper thing last year that worked wonders. It looks like a tennis racket. Nothing else had worked.

Diane March 17, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Put white vinegar in a spray bottle; spray directly onto the flies to stop them immediately.

Any that you don’t spray, will wind up being caught in one of your ‘traps’ that you’ve already mentioned.

If you have a sun porch or patio, put your little plants outside for the better part of the day – spray your rooms, and bring the plants in at night when the flies and gnats are not as active.

Jennifer March 17, 2010 at 4:36 pm

The vinegar definitely works! We had some trouble with fruit flies last year, and I put a few ounces of vinegar in a small ramekin, and added a few drops of dish soap (which supposedly makes it even harder for them to escape). Worked like a charm!

RenaissanceRonin March 17, 2010 at 5:39 pm

After some searching, I found that this way seems to work the best, and cost the least;

Take some small cups and fill them about 1/4 of the way up with your favorite brand of dishwashing liquid. You can add just a splash of water on top of that, to help form the “fly freestyle pool.”

Now add a splash of some red wine vinegar or cider vinegar. A small piece of apple core works just as well, and helps keep the doctor away…

You know… “An Apple a day keeps the Doctor away…”

Try to keep up, huh? 😉

Put some plastic wrap on top, secure with a rubber band and then poke a few very tiny holes in the plastic.

Don’t use a Bowie knife, your favorite buck knife, or a meat cleaver. You want holes that they can crawl in thru, but not crawl out of… plus it’ll save you a weekend.

My wife caught me in the kitchen gleefully stabbing the stretched plastic wrap, and she called the cops…

72 hours later, they released me back into the public, after the shrink said I was “just a crazy Jew.” Muwahahahah!

But now I’ve been “Baker Act’d.” I wonder if I get a diploma? It’d be swell to attach that to my next resume when looking for a job a Krispy Kreme’s, or a line cook job at the Waffle House…

Anyway, back to our program…

The fruit flies fly in and can’t figure out how to escape. So, just put out the “fly spas” wherever you see them congregating. You’ll be surprised how many you’ll catch. Keep score, but not on the wall. Again, if your significant other is like mine, the “sense of humor” gets stretched pretty thin. 🙂

Remember that you have to be diligent… because the uncaught flies will continue multiplying…)

Intimidation works well, too.

Grab one, and then, in a loud voice, scream “Down the Hatch!” and then eat it! When the rest of his pals see that, they’ll head for the hills…

And for the John Wayne’s out there: Resist the urge to break out the “big guns…”

They are way too small to shoot. 🙂

Free Mental Image For Ya: Picture a Fat Jew in a Star of David Tie Dyed Shirt running around the house with a loaded Nerf rifle, blasting tiny little fruit flies out of the air… screaming “AH HA! Jew Fu! Got ya, ya rascal!!!”

Erin aka Conscious Shopper March 18, 2010 at 8:57 am

The vinegar idea definitely works…Our fruit fly problem stemmed from our worm bin. Have you noticed an increase in fruit flies since you got your worm bin?

C. March 18, 2010 at 10:18 am

Ok. If the flies hatched from the soil you do not have fruit flies, they should be a very dark brown to black fly/gnat. Your soil for your seeds/seedlings is too wet. First thing is to dry out your soil a bit, a heating pad under the plant won’t hurt and will speed up the process. next sprinkle cinnamon on the top of the soil every 2-4 days and they won’t be hatching anymore. That will also prevent damping off, which is probably the next issue you’ll have if your soil is too wet.

For the person above that had flies on their houseplants in the winter – those are likely white flies, pretty harmless except to the plant itself. Spray the plants regularly with water – PLAIN water. Anything else can damage the waxy protection of the leaves, etc. and you’ll loose the plant that way. I tend to rotate my plants in and out of my shower in the winter. Wash them down with a good “rainshower” and that keeps the problem in check.

Good luck to everyone with their spring seedlings 😀 I know I have spring fever something awful.

Blair March 18, 2010 at 3:21 pm

If they are in clouds I usually just take the vacuum hose attachment and suck them up!

heather March 19, 2010 at 10:55 am

@C, thanks so so much! I’m thinking now it might be gnats. I read though that my seedlings have to be kept wet constantly. I’ve been spritzing them down with water twice a day. Is that too much?

I’m going to go try the cinnamon right now. Thanks so much!

5 min. later…

I just sprinkled the cinnamon down and it worked like a charm! Those gnats TOOK OFF. There’s not a single one hanging around my seedlings. Thanks so much! I’ll have to go do all my houseplants today. 🙂 Yay!

heather March 19, 2010 at 10:57 am

@Erin, I tried the vinegar idea yesterday and it didn’t work. 🙁

I only noticed the flies when I started growing my seedlings indoors. They don’t seem to be attracted to the worm bin (but I do have a cover on there).

I DO have mites in the worm bin. I discovered those about a week ago. My bin is crawling with them when I lift the lid off. I definitely think it’s too wet in there, so I’ve been leaving the lid off to dry it out some. They’re still there, but not quite as many. Do you have any experience getting rid of them? Thanks so much for writing in!

heather March 19, 2010 at 10:58 am

Blair, I don’t have quite that many (yet!) but that’s an awesome idea. If things get bad I’ll definitely try that! Right now they’re just flying around. I think I have maybe 20-25 around my seedlings, and some loners at each of my houseplants.

Heather M March 22, 2010 at 11:17 pm

BEST thing we ever did to get rid of fruit flies – A VENUS FLY TRAP plant!! I kid you not!! The thing was amazing! We had tried just about everything else when I saw one at the farmer’s market and bought it on a whim. The thing worked wonders and the fruit flies made it very happy! Unfortunately after the fruit flies had been away for a while the plant didn’t do so good. I guess they need the food! I’ll definitely buy one again this year if we need to.

heather March 24, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Heather.

That is a GENIUS idea! The cinnamon worked wonders for a day. Now they’re back in full force, even worse now that I’ve started more seeds. I’m definitely trying this, thanks for the idea!

RenaissanceRonin March 25, 2010 at 4:03 am

Oh GREAT, Heidi…

Now I have to guard my dark beer AND my bananas from the little beasts?

Thank “Him/Her” they don’t like bagels!

(See, Heather? See what I just did there? I can be “politically correct”… Just not in public, or apparently when talking to my wife…) 😉

Maybe I should just move to a part of town where the little critters don’t have such “high-brow” tastes…

By the way, if you just blend up all that beer, bananas, and brown sugar in a food processor…

…you can hardly taste the flies… and I’m told that they’re a great source of protein and “other” essential minerals. 😉

Save’s on vitamins!

That’s a “two-fer!” 🙂

heidi March 25, 2010 at 5:43 pm

LOL, Wow, Ronin, I’d never quite thought of it that way! Pretty sure I’d rather have my dark beer without the old banana content, but the fruit fly concoction does sound handy for guests who won’t leave. Just call it a dessert beverage…

heather March 27, 2010 at 6:58 am

Heidi, I just read your comment after waking up this Sat. morning, still on my first cup of coffee. It made me laugh so much I almost spewed a mouthful onto my laptop. 🙂 Dessert beverage…classic. 🙂

RenaissanceRonin March 27, 2010 at 11:21 am

Heidi,

I call it a “Mother-In_Law Mai Tai!”

And I’ll try not to laugh when the old bat is drinking it… 😉

Or when she’s falling off her broom after drinking too many of “those delicious drinks.” 🙂

heidi March 29, 2010 at 9:56 pm

0=)

Btw, the beer/banana/brown sugar mix gathered Red Admiral (1) and Goatweed Leafwings (2) this weekend, the Tiger Swallowtail (1), Pipevine Swallowtails (3), and Funeral Duskywing (2) that scooted through the yard weren’t interested in the bait. Never are. Nobody inspected 1/2 a “ripe” orange though.

heidi March 29, 2010 at 9:58 pm

…I should add that I have (and live with) the most amazing mother-in-law (and father-in-law, for that matter) and due to the smell, she never gets within 15′ of the butterfly bait. She also doesn’t drink, or like fermenting fruit, though.

JACQUELINE CHRONISTER July 17, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Put a scooped-out 1/2 cantaloupe in the microwave, leaving the microwave door open for about 2 hours. When the rind has collected a great number of fruit flies, nuke ’em. Those particular fruit flies will never annoy me again.
I’ve been picking blueberries for a month, making about 75 jars of jam, freezing the rest, leaving some on the counter to eat all during the day.. Guess I’ve been breeding fruit flies. I’m inundated.

Brent Dmitruk December 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm

I was amazed at how I learned that cinnamon repelled flies. for some reason, I have never been interupted by fruit flies during my christmas cinnamon meals. I wondered why they always came by any other time, but during my christmas rituals with cinnamon, they are never there. they will fly randomly anywhere but when they smell the cinnamon where I am sitting trying to enjoy myself in peace, they just go somewhere else.

jameslumley March 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm

Out witting the fruit fly has taken me years. But I was convinced with the size
of their brain and a humans there had to be a solution. But for years it seems
the fruit flies continued to outsmart me. Now I have been thinking most of
mankind can’t outsmart a fruit fly and I included myself in that category until
just by accident I found the method of doing them in. I think there is also
a lesson in this for you people who drink too much. Just by accident I left
a half filled goblet of sweet wine on the counter near the sink where fruit flies
had been congregating. In the morning they were all gone. It seems during
the night they had a great drunken party on the wine, got to drunk to get out
of the high sided goblet and ended up being another casualty of alcohol.
Try it you will be pleasantly pleased. Now if anyone can outsmart the mosquito,
I would be interested in hearing the method. James

Leave a Comment