November 19, 2005 5:57 PM   Subscribe

How do I get rid of all of these fruit flies??

AHHH! There are SO MANY of them. I don't know how we wind up with these periodic infestations. About twice a year, fruit flies invade my kitchen sink. I keep my kitchen clean enough that I can't imagine what they live off of or how they survive long enough to breed as prodidgiously as they do. I don't leave dirty dishes in the sink over night very often and I run my in-sink-er-ator/garbage disposal unit, flushing out all of the organic material in my sink.
So, I've got a two part question:
1) Where do these bastards come from?
2) How do I kill them all? All of them. No survivors. But without poisoning myself or my welcome pets?
posted by Jon-o to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I had to deal with fruit flies in my dorm last month. From researching, I found out that the flies breed and hang out at different places and they are usually attracted to wet/damp areas as well as around plants and vegetation.

The first thing I did was throw out any vegetables that I purchased just before the fly invasion. It turns out the colony of flies I brought in were from a bag of onions I purchased a few days prior. (and apparently bags of onions are notorious fruit fly carriers).

The second thing I did was pour bleach down the drain pipes in the shower and kitchen sinks. I left the bleach inside the pipes for about 15 minutes, then flushed it down with warm water.

That seemed to kill my fruit fly problem....for now.
posted by phyrewerx at 6:08 PM on November 19, 2005 [1 favorite]

i think bananas.
posted by brandz at 6:15 PM on November 19, 2005

What phyrewerx said about the vegetables; plus throw out all your empty beer/wine bottles as that's their other favourite breeding-ground. They like the yeast that grows on fruit and veg and beer bottles. The life cycle (from egg-laying to emergence of adult from pupa) is roughly 10-12 days depending on species, so if nothing hangs around more than a week they can't make more fruitflies. If your recyclables are only picked up every two weeks that'll be long enough, so wash 'em.
posted by nowonmai at 6:20 PM on November 19, 2005 [1 favorite]

I was at my father's last week and he was showing off a technique he heard about to get rid of fruitflies. He had a wine glass half full with red wine. The top was covered with plastic wrap with several holes punched into it (slightly larger than toothpick size). The flies are attracted to the fruitiness of the wine, and eventually drown when they can't find a way to escape. He said it worked very well.
posted by furtive at 6:39 PM on November 19, 2005

When I had this problem, I found various internet suggestions to make traps like this:
A bowl or two as needed filled with 1/2 quart water, 2 Tablespoons sugar, 2 Tablespoons vinegar and a couple drops of dish soap.
I don't know that it killed all of them, but there was definitely a satisfying number of dead flies in the glasses I used after a day or two.
posted by smackfu at 6:39 PM on November 19, 2005

see this old thread for more ideas on how to get rid of them
posted by cosmicbandito at 6:40 PM on November 19, 2005

wine glass method (see above) worked for me about 2 months ago.
posted by SNACKeR at 7:20 PM on November 19, 2005

To prevent future infestations, I've found that washing bananas works well. Though I also have onions around I haven't had any bugs since I've washed all bananas when they enter the house.
posted by mbrubeck at 8:22 PM on November 19, 2005

In my 30 year old 500+ unit apartment complex the fruit flies spawn along the heat registers and are present in many apartments. There is nothing we've been able to do about them. As long as the pipes are warm, they are there the whole season. We've tried everything to keep them away, but you can't really do much to a heat register when they can just move along the pipe into another unit.
posted by vkxmai at 9:00 PM on November 19, 2005

If they're living in your sink, and there aren't any chunks of rotting fruit or veggies in there, I suspect you're not dealing with fruit flies at all - they're probably fungus gnats. (They're a bit smaller than fruit flies, never have red eyes, and fly erratically and are almost impossible to catch.)

If so, you can't kill them all, but with a lifespan of a few days, they'll die soon. The trick is to prevent them from multiplying, which means dealing with the fungus they feed on - it's probably in your sink. Dump some Windex or pyrethin-based bug spray in there to kill it, then let it dry out completely - don't use the sink for a day or two. That will probably do it, but the gnats will come back if they have somewhere else to breed (another drain, an overwatered houseplant, etc.)
posted by mmoncur at 10:07 PM on November 19, 2005

If you can remove it, take out the rubber thingy that keeps stuff out of your garbage disposal. You'd be surprised at the gunk that can collect on the bottom of it. If it's not removable, stick several handfuls of ice into the disposal and then turn it on. That will clean the blades and the rubber thingy.
posted by Serena at 10:41 PM on November 19, 2005

Best answer: Drying out your sink after every use will help. I guess they're too stupid to find the dog's water dish 10 feet away, but if I've got an infestation and sneak up on them, they're all in the sink in the leftover puddle around the drain. There's probably traces of other stuff in the water that makes it more appealing than the bathtub or dog dish.

So bleach your sink, drain, and disposal, then dry out the sink, then set them out a nice glass of red wine with a drop of dish soap to cut the surface tension. They should be gone in a couple of days.

If you live in a roachy state like Texas or Florida, the basin-drying (sink and tub) works amazingly well on them, too. They'll go elsewhere to find water if you don't have any to offer.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:34 PM on November 19, 2005

I make these traps out of soda bottles to deal with their seasonal visitations. Other than capturing all flies within 12-24 hours, it is also incredibly satisfying to watch a flock of them chart agitated spirals within their plastic tomb. Die, fuckers.
posted by ori at 12:14 AM on November 20, 2005

What mmoncur said. Make sure you're dealing with fruit flies.

In my 30 year old 500+ unit apartment complex the fruit flies spawn along the heat registers and are present in many apartments.

Not fruit flies. Fruit flies need fruit to spawn on. The adult female lays eggs on some vegetable matter and then the eggs hatch and the larvae eat. They're maggots. Then they get fat and pupate into adults.

Don't use insecticide (I once walked into my kitchen to find my roommates standing in a fog of Raid trying to kill the flies)--it'll do more harm than good.

Just get rid of your fruit for a week or so. Keep it in the fridge. The traps are great for satisfying that "torch and burn" warfare streak we all have, but they won't kill'em all.

And for when they come back with another bag of onions--don't worry so much, they don't bite or anything. Just keep the numbers down.
posted by recurve at 4:07 AM on November 20, 2005

Best answer: I agree with smackfu. Make the water/vinegar/sugar/salt/soap trap in several small, wide dishes and leave them out. Make sure your sink is clean with bleach or something like that.
posted by rxrfrx at 1:24 PM on November 20, 2005

Response by poster: I bleached the sink. It seems to have worked.
Thanks everyone! With your help, Victory is Mine!
posted by Jon-o at 7:21 AM on November 22, 2005

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