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How to Keep Fruit Flies Away

By M.H. Dyer

If you're plagued by small gnatlike flies in your kitchen, chances are good that the tiny pests are fruit flies. Although fruit flies can cause problems any time of year, the flies are especially problematic during the warm days of late summer and early autumn. Take steps to prevent fruit fly infestations, as eliminating the pests is difficult. If you already have fruit flies, deal with the problem as soon as possible, as fruit flies are a serious food contaminant.


Keep fruits and vegetables in cold storage or in airtight containers. Don't leave spoiling fruit, or products such as juice, pickles, jams or jellies out in the open. Dispose of empty soda or beer cans or wine bottles.

Check your pantry or food storage system regularly. If you store foods such as carrots, onions or potatoes, keep the bins clean and watch for rotten food. Even a tiny piece of rotten potato or carrot can invite a large infestation of fruit flies.

Keep your garbage cans clean, as even a small amount of fruit juice or spoiled food is enough to feed a large population of fruit flies. Rinse mops and cleaning rags in hot water and bleach. Keep yours floors clean, including baseboards, edges, and the areas behind and under appliances. Wipe your kitchen counters with a solution consisting of one part household bleach to nine parts water.

Keep your recycling bins clean. Empty the bins regularly.

Locate Breeding Sites

Locate the fruit fly breeding site. Although locating the breeding site is difficult and requires patience and persistence, eliminating the source of the infestation is crucial. Attempting to control the population of fruit flies without eliminating the breeding site is useless.

Look for hidden breeding sites such as a dirty garbage can, a piece of fruit hiding under the refrigerator, an empty beer or soda can, a dirty mop or a bit of potato left behind in a pantry.

Check drains, which are a favorite breeding spot. To check the drains, place a clear plastic bag over the drain, then secure the bag with tape. Look for adult flies inside the bag the next morning. Once the breeding site is located, the remaining pests must be eliminated.


Create a simple fruit fly trap. Start by making a rolling a sheet of paper into a funnel shape. Put a few ounces of apple cider vinegar in a small glass jar, then place the funnel in the jar. The remaining adult fruit flies will fly in the jar but will be unable to escape. Place the trap near the breeding site.

Use an insecticide containing pyrethrum if the infestation is heavy and the trap doesn't eliminate the problem. Although pyrethrum is a natural substance with a low toxicity and a low environmental impact, pyrethrum-based products should be used according to label recommendations.

Treat fruit fly infestations with toxic pesticides only if other methods fail to work. Use the product judiciously and follow label guidelines closely.


Things You Will Need

  • Airtight food storage containers
  • Household bleach
  • Clear plastic bags
  • Sheet of paper
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Glass jar
  • Insecticide containing pyrethrum (optional)
  • Chemical pesticide (optional)

About the Author


M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.