For most individuals, fruit flies are an occasional annoyance that may ruin a couple of pieces of fruit from time to time in the kitchen. For backyard gardeners and professional growers, the pest can be a major cause of stress and economic damage. While some private growers may spray for fruit flies using chemicals that are relatively safe to humans, others rely on different methods to protect crops.
The easiest and safest way to prevent fruit flies is simply to stop them before they have a chance to get established. Most species do not travel far from their origin, and most breed in standing water or very moist organic material. Therefore, stopping the fly from reproducing means identifying and eliminating these potential breeding areas, or applying a larvaecide if the water cannot be removed or eliminated.
Making sure your home and yard are clean is another good way to stop fruit flies. While they may prefer standing water or moist organic material, they may also lay eggs on wet rags or even in compost piles. Picking up around the home and hanging up washcloths, towels and wet clothes should also reduce breeding opportunities. Pouring ammonia down a drain may help eliminate any that are breeding in the pipes.
Another way to eliminate fruit flies is through the use of fruit fly traps. These containers are often placed directly on a tree to catch any flies that come into the area. Bananas make good bait for fruit fly traps. Making them yourself can be as simple as using a toothpick to poke holes in a plastic container and placing the banana inside of it. In a day or two, seal the holes and dispose of the container.
Another way to control fruit flies is to keep as much food out of the way as possible. Refrigerate all fruits when they are brought into the home. If that is impractical or undesirable, the other option is to make sure those fruits are sealed in an airtight location that is impossible for fruit flies to get into or even smell. Often, the fruit fly's sense of smell is what attracts them to an area.
Mediterranean Fruit Fly
While most fruit flies that invade homes and backyards are harmless to living things, the Mediterranean fruit fly is considered a major citrus pest in warmer climates. It can ruin entire groves of fruit and quickly spread. Spot treatment of susceptible trees is typically done with a natural insecticide that is approved for agricultural use and is therefore safe to humans.