Teeny-tiny flies in my kitchen!
July 22, 2005 8:54 AM   Subscribe

Itty-bitty-fly-filter: Every year around this time, our home is invaded by these teeny-tiny flies...

They show up around the middle of July, just as summer turns really muggy, and they stick around until around September. They seem to swarm mainly in the kitchen, but they also like to hang in the bathroom and laundry areas. I'v tried some spraying but, since they prefer areas like the kitchen, I am loathe to just start spreading poisons all over the counters.
Have any of you had any luck controlling these little things? I'd say they are fruitflies but, having never officially seen a fruitfly, I can't honestly say. All I know is, they are so small that even things like flypapers and strips don't work. They are too light to stick to the adhesives very well.
In short, these things are a real PITA. Anyone with suggestions will be my friend for life.
posted by Thorzdad to Home & Garden (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
They sound like fruitflys to me. You can catch them with about 1/4 cup of something sweet (white wine, sugar water) in the bottom of a wine or beer bottle, or there are non-poisonous traps you can buy that are a bit more effective.
posted by transient at 9:19 AM on July 22, 2005

Try this to make your own traps.
posted by schnee at 9:20 AM on July 22, 2005

Response by poster: The pop-bottle trap ounds suspiciously like a bee trap we make around here. I'll give it a go.
Thanks!OT...man...this live preview really rocks!
posted by Thorzdad at 9:36 AM on July 22, 2005

We get them too. They are fruit flies. They love garbage, especially decaying vegetable matter. They are absolutely apeshit for bananas. One year, we had them so bad we ended up buying flypaper strips and sticking it all over the kitchen. We caught hundreds of them.

Most years, we only see a half-dozen or so over the course of the summer, so it isn't bad enough to bother doing anything about.
posted by wakko at 9:38 AM on July 22, 2005

Make the traps (don't bother spraying, they're too small for it to be any use) and dry out your sinks, tubs, showers, etc after every use. Cover your kitchen drains and close the toilet lid. They'll be gone in a couple of days, as long as their spawning ground (fruit, trash, whatever) is gone.

I've tried the bottle traps, but I've also left part of an open bottle of wine on the counter next to a quarter glass of wine many times, and the glass always has the highest body count. I think a really cheap bottle of sweet red wine (Lambrusco) is probably the best bait.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:43 AM on July 22, 2005

They might be gnats.
posted by Specklet at 9:49 AM on July 22, 2005

I second fruit flies or gnats - the bottle trap idea is pretty ingenius - I usually just keep my kitchen ultra-clean, including taking out the trash at least every day and keeping everything in the fridge stored in plastic bags or tupperware.
posted by muddgirl at 9:52 AM on July 22, 2005

Yeah, the traps are a good idea, but even more important is keeping the place clean. Nothing to eat = no fruit flies. Especially don't leave banana peels or the like exposed in the trash for very long.
posted by squidlarkin at 10:06 AM on July 22, 2005

"they might be gnats" sounds like a "They Might Be Giants" tribute act.
posted by john-paul at 10:07 AM on July 22, 2005

Response by poster: I can indeed confirm they are apeshit for bananas. We can't keep them in house this time of the year.
They definitely aren't gnats. Definitely flies.
Damn thing is, we keep the place as spotless as you can with two kids in the house, but those flies make you feel...icky. I'm trying the bottle trap as we speak. The little guys seem to be congregating around the lip but not heading in.
L...maybe I should aim the webcam at the bottle? Fly-trap-cam anyone?
posted by Thorzdad at 10:09 AM on July 22, 2005

Most likely fruit flies, as others have suggested. But also possibly fungus gnats, which can breed in wet houseplant soil.

A variant on the fly trap: Make a 6-inch sleeve from an old nylon stocking: holes at both ends. Put sweet fluid and a drop of dishsoap (to reduce surface tension) in a wide-mouth jar/container/glass, stretch stocking tube over top to make a funnel-like cone. Secure with rubber band.

Flies will fly into jar through the cone, but won't be able to get out. They will land in the sweet fluid. The lack of surface tension (due to the soap) will trap them in the fluid and they will drown.

If they're not fruit flies, you can change the bait. Put a small container (like a baby-food jar) with some meat into the middle of the soapy fluid, and if they're carrion flies they'll be attracted to that instead.
posted by Araucaria at 10:39 AM on July 22, 2005

Should have checked other references -- the 2-liter bottle trick does roughly the same thing.

But I don't usually have 2-liter bottles around.
posted by Araucaria at 10:45 AM on July 22, 2005

I can totally vouch for the traps.... cheapest way is to fill a jar or glass with an inch of cider vinegar and tiny bit of detergent, then make a paper funnel with no gaps (use tape if necessary) with a tiny opening at the bottom about an inch above the waterline. This totally works... be sure to look for the dead fruitflies at the bottom of the cider, not floating on top. Did this just a couple of months ago to take care of a fruitfly scourge, and it works amazingly well.
posted by rolypolyman at 11:09 AM on July 22, 2005

Sounds like fruit flies for sure, then. All the ideas for traps are good, but the best way to get rid of them is make sure they have nothing to eat/breed on. They have an adult life cycle of only 24 hours, so if you keep your kitchen free of fruit/parts of fruit for a few days, you'll erradicate them.
posted by Specklet at 11:12 AM on July 22, 2005

I can't help but notice that you've described three rooms of your house where only one of them would contain available food for fruit flies. You've also described the only three rooms in your house with drains.

Could they be drain flies? I've had these before. I scrubbed the hell out of my drains, pouring oodles of Drano down there, and that did the trick.
posted by waldo at 11:12 AM on July 22, 2005

Response by poster: Waldo,
Interesting find. Some of the descriptions of the drain flies are in keeping with these guys. Never heard of drain flies.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:43 AM on July 22, 2005

Could they be lake flies? And I only know that term because I had them in my apartment and that was what my landlord called them, so I'm not even sure if it's right. They were small enough to fit through my window screen, and were specifically pulled in by a window fan. So...if they're hanging around window areas, could this be it? When I stopped using the window fan that took care of the problem.
posted by jetskiaccidents at 12:10 PM on July 22, 2005

Response by poster: They're too big to get through a screen and, in looking closer at them, they definitely seem to be more fly-like in appearance than the drain fly on the link Waldo supplied. Who knows? Maybe I have two different problems? Just my luck.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:02 PM on July 22, 2005

Yeah, fruit flies. They're attracted to even the tinyest early stages of fermentation. If we take out all the garbage, seal away fruits, clean and dry the sinks etc, find/destroy any fruit/vege matter, etc, they go away because there is nothing left to attract them.

Also, watch your beers. Fruitflies are attracted to fermentation, and if you leave an uncapped beer in the kitchen, they'll soon be crawling around its lip and inside it. Give them 15 minutes, and there will soon be drowned ones floating in the beer.
So, uh, look in your already-opened beer before drinking if you have an aversion to extra protein FREE :)

On the topic, an old opened beer also makes a crude trap - just leave it as-is, and they'll crawl inside and drown. (Ok, that sounds really bad - there is probably a white trash joke there somewhere :)
posted by -harlequin- at 1:48 PM on July 22, 2005

Actually, the beer test would be a good way to find out if they're fruit flies or something else.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:50 PM on July 22, 2005

Mite infestations in plants can also release little tiny flies. They're a tad smaller than fruit flies.
posted by catkins at 2:17 PM on July 22, 2005

I agree, sounds like fruitflies.

We had these in our kitchen at the Casa De Tomble, and it turned out that a potato in the back of the cupboard had gone rotten in a bag. It didn't smell much, until we got close to it, but it supported a population of thousands of tiny flies which were driving us crazy.

We just couldn't work out where they were coming from. Check down the very back of your cupboards, maybe even behind the fridge. They don't seem to need much food to breed.

We still refer to them as `airbugs', but we don't have the problem anymore.
posted by tomble at 11:01 PM on July 22, 2005

For the sake of a complete reference:
Fungus gnats do indeed come from the dirt of house plants. My office is often infested with them, as a by-product of being infested with house plants. The way you can tell is that fungus gnats like humidity and will utilize all 6 of the neurons in their little brains to try to fly up your nose or into your eyes. If it is not trying to fly up your nose, it isn't a fungus gnat.
The only known cure for them is to dump Sevin dust on top of the dirt. Sevin is incredibly toxic, don't use it around kids and pets.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 6:23 AM on July 23, 2005

Fruitflies. To control them, don't have alot of ripe fruit lying about and take your trash out more frequently. Ripe cantaloupe seems to be a huge favorite with these little buggers. Once fruit is ripe, try keeping it in the fridge.
posted by jimfl at 4:20 PM on July 23, 2005

Sounds like Phorid Flies to me. Very tough to get rid of. I only got results with BioGel. (Made by PestWest) Trust me I've tried all kinds of stuff. These can be so hard to get rid of that they rip up floor in restaurants to get rid of them. Immune to bleach etc... Nasty. Catch one and see if it looks like this
The Bio Gel stuff is real easy to use and totally wipes 'em out! Downside is I have to use it once a month to keep them away and it's a little pricey!
posted by thimk at 8:37 AM on August 4, 2005

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