The weather is warm, and your house is stocked with loads of yummy fresh fruit. This means it’s prime time to find those pesky little fruit flies floating around your kitchen. Rather than just shoo them away, here’s how to get fly-free in no time.

Gnats vs fruit flies

When you first spot little black bugs flying around your kitchen, you should make sure it’s a fruit fly and not a gnat. Fruit flies thrive off of rotting fruit or other high-fructose foods. They’re typically reddish orange or dark brown in color. Gnats, on the other hand, are usually grey or black, and tend to live in soil, so if you think it might be those, the issue might not be overripe produce.

How did fruit flies get in my house?

It might seems like fruit flies just appear spontaneously out of nowhere, or that they miraculously grow from rotting fruit. While this was the belief for hundreds of years, of course today we know this is not true.

The truth is that fruit flies are super stealthy and can smell the alcohol from fermented fruit from miles away. Fruit flies are so tiny that they can fit through the smallest crack or crevice around a window screen. They’ll enter your home in pursuit of that overripe fruit, and the next thing you know you’re hosting a fruit fly fiesta.

Why are there so many fruit flies at once?

Overripe or rotting fruit makes the perfect surface for females to lay their eggs. Each female can lay nearly 500 eggs on occasion. After the eggs hatch mere hours later, the larva will feast on whatever is around them — like that old apple you forgot in the fruit basket. The larva mature into fully formed adults in just a few days, and they can mate just a few days after that. Then the cycle starts all over again for each, individual fruit fly. (You see where things can get out of hand really quickly if you don’t take care of your fruit fly infestation.)

How to I get rid of fruit flies?

Your first line of defense is just keeping a clean kitchen. Fruit flies can’t thrive on clean surfaces, so if you spill something, clean it up, frequently wipe out your sink, and wipe down your kitchen table, cutting boards, appliance exteriors, or anywhere else food particles or liquids might land.

You also need to rid your kitchen of the offending fruit or vegetable. Once it’s gone, this should seriously lower the number, but some could continue to live on in dirty drains or on mops, so clean these too. Rotting fruit can sometimes ooze out into the fruit basket or surrounding area, so double check to make sure you’re not missing these areas. Always keep your produce area clean.

Don’t overlook recyclables. If you keep a bag or bin of recyclables in your kitchen, the stick saccharine substance attracting the fruit flies could be on one of your discarded plastics, or it could be in the bin itself.

How can I make a fruit fly trap?

Remember how fruit flies can squeeze into even the teeniest places? Well, they won’t likely find their way back out. You can set a trap with a tiny hole, and catch a bunch of them at once. Here are two popular methods.

The beer method: Try putting a nearly empty beer bottle or wine bottle near where you spotted the fruit flies. They’ll be lured in by the smell, but the narrow bottle neck will keep many of them trapped. Tip: Improve this idea by making a paper funnel or covering the bottle opening with a bit of plastic wrap (sealed with a rubber band) and poking a few tiny holes in it.

The apple cider vinegar method: Fill a small bowl or glass with apple cider vinegar. Cover the top with plastic wrap and use a rubber band to seal. Poke a few tiny holes in the top. Tip: Improve on this method by mixing in some dish soap. The dish soap acts to decrease surface tension so the flies that come to investigate are immediately immersed in the liquid.

Also see, 10 foods that can substitute as cleaning supplies.

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.