For some of us, this pest is so common to deal with that it’s your first sign that there’s a mess to be cleaned up somewhere. Maybe it’s a garbage disposal to be cleaned. Maybe it’s trash that needs to be taken out. Maybe it’s a fruit bowl that needs to be dumped. Or, most frustratingly of all, maybe it’s something hidden. An apple that was rolled under a couch by a rampaging toddler. A single grape that fell behind your blender. Regardless of how they get there, seeing it is always an unwelcome sight.
There is some good news when it comes to fruit flies. Their abilities as disease vectors are incredibly limited. They don’t bite. They don’t cause decay in food, they only feed on food that is already decaying. They don’t burrow into food, so washing off the surface of fruit is more than sufficient to clean off any potential eggs and larvae. But for all of the good news, there is also a lot of bad news. Fruit flies are notoriously good at making more fruit flies. A single female fruit fly can easily lay over 500 eggs over their very short lifetime. That means a single food source for fruit flies can quickly turn into thousands of flies in your home.
The key to getting rid of fruit flies is cleaning. More specifically, finding and removing the source of the fruit flies in your home. No matter how many adults you successfully eradicate, they will come back until you find where the eggs and larvae are feeding. Depending on your house and life, that can be either a simple task, or a giant pain. Any source of rotting food can be a source of fruit flies. That includes boxes and jars you may believe to be clean or sealed.
Removing adult fruit flies after cleaning out the source doesn’t have to be a chore. Although Fruit Fly is the most likely name to hear these insects referred to, the actual common name scientists use is Vinegar Fly. If you set up a cup with a tiny bit of vinegar in the bottom and place virtually any form of funnel on the top, it will trap the adult flies. You then just have to throw the vinegar out and the flies are gone. Anything more serious than that will likely require a consultation with a pest control specialist, as the most effective chemicals approved for use varies by state.