The Only Good Fruit Fly Is A Dead Fruit Fly

Piles of ripening, and occasionally over-ripened, fruit, such as have been gracing my kitchen for about the last six weeks, bring with them fruit flies. 
Man I hate those little bastards. Fruit flies just…appear. And once you have some of them calling your kitchen or your peaches or your compost home, they will swell to disgusting proportions in about 45 minutes. I can be zen about fruit flies when they stick to the compost bin, but once I find one in a glass of wine I’m drinking….well, then it’s war.
Luckily, I’ve found I can get them to leave almost as quickly as they arrived. And when I say “get them to leave,” what I really mean is, “slaughter as many as possible.”

How To Kill A Lot Of Fruit Flies
Step 1: Remove as many completing fruit fly attractants as possible. Take out the compost, process or stick any over-ripe fruit in the fridge. Find that banana peel your kid hid under the couch. Whatever.
Step 2: Get a small glass. Fill it about half-full with apple cider vinegar (the cheap stuff from the tub, not the Bragg’s). Add 1 or 2 drops liquid dish soap to the vinegar. Stir. If you have a bad infestation, make several traps.
Step 3: Place traps around the kitchen, or near the swams of fruit flies recently made homeless when you took out the compost.
Step 4: Wait. I like to set these traps at night and come back to see what carnage I have wrought the next morning. Usually it’s pretty epic carnage.

I’ve tried more complex traps that involve making a funnel or inverting plastic soda jugs into each other. Those techniques take more work and don’t do as good a job as this straight forward Death By Drowning solution. The trick is the drop of soap, which breaks up the surface tension of the cider vinegar and allows any fly drawn in by that yummy fermented fruit smell of the vinegar to slip to the bottom of the glass.

I’ve found these traps work for about two days and then the vinegar needs to be refreshed. I think as the vinegar volatiles dissipate the trap just doesn’t smell as good to the flies. Also, at a certain point that many dead bugs in the bottom of a glass is just gross and needs to be dealt with.

Whatever you do, do not mindlessly take a swig of your vinegar-dead-fly concoction thinking it’s apple juice or something. That would be even more terrible than a fruit fly infestation.


  1. says

    My husband thinks it very strange that every morning I skip to the kitchen to see how many fruit flies have fallen victim to my devious cider vinegar trap. It's a small but major part of my day.

  2. says

    My husband and I have fruit fly competitions to see who can kill the most, with bonus points for multiples in one shot or getting them in the air. This sounds a whole lot easier, though.

  3. says

    We just got through an infestation, and I did some incredibly (hah!) scientific comparison using different liquids. Between Bragg's cider vinegar, store band cider vinegar, and red wine, the Bragg's came out the winner. If by winner you mean "contained the most dead fruit flies in the morning."

    I also did the trap where you put a piece of fruit in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in the wrap. Yes, fruit flies went in. Then I suspected they bred in there until the bowl was FULL OF THEM. When confronted with how to dispose of the bowl, I put it in a plastic bag and stuck it in the freezer. Which I realized is still there and I need to empty it outside, far from the house. Eww.

  4. says

    Brilliant PICTURES! Best dead fruit fly pictures on the web, I'm certain!
    Tried the plastic wrap over the jar and a lot went in but a lot cam out too. Also tried the paper funnel – I still think they escaped. >:( Damn flies.

  5. says

    thankyouthankyouthankyou! i've got the worst fruit fly infestation in my hoop house with the tomatoes and i'm even losing green ones. little fuckers! i put up a fly strip, but i think these traps will do the trick.

  6. says

    I've taken part in fruit-fly-flaming by taking a can of Pam & a lighter and buring the little bastards to a crisp in mid air. Not very effective at reducing their numbers, but it's fun! Oh yeah, and a little dangerous. Haven't done it since DD was born though; I blame it all on youthful ignorance.

  7. says

    My house is swarming with the little bastards right now and if it's anything like last year they will move from the kitchen once all the produce is gone and TAKE UP RESIDENCE IN THE BATHROOM! Seriously , they lived on our toothbrush holder for months even after last frost. I washed it, bought new brushes and even resorted to bleach to no avail. I think they finally died out about Feb. I bought a different brand of toothpaste this year that includes tea tree- hopefully that repels them.

  8. Hesper says

    Well my red wine hasn’t done the trick in drowning very many fruit flies. (I drink 3/4 of the bottle and leave the rest in a couple of glasses so maybe I’m the one drowning!) It’s off to the store for apple cider vinegar today! Thanks for the FYI!

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