Can you help rid our home of these stubborn flies?
November 1, 2015 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Our house has an infestation of flies and I'm desperate to rid myself of them. Can you help?

Here is a picture of a semi-smooshed fly. I believe this is a fruit fly. Am I wrong?

What hasn't worked:
-Putting all foods inside the fridge or cabinets.
-Scrubbing every inch of our kitchen, including floors, cabinets inside and out, dishwasher, tops of cabinets and appliances, inside and outside of fridge, pulled the stove out, etc.
-Dran-O down the kitchen sink, as well as gallons of boiling water (even though I know they aren't likely drain flies.)
- Scrubbed the trash and recycling bins
- apple cider vinegar fruit fly traps
- a bunch of other DIY traps using cones and sugar water or dish soap for surface tension or a lump of fruit and some magic and a rubber band.
- Placed these fruit fly traps in three spots around the kitchen a week ago (they haven't caught one yet)

The flies are hard to swat. They fly away- they don't "hop".

They mostly chill out on my cabinet fronts and the ceiling.

There are usually about 10-15 flies at any given time in my kitchen. We've occasionally found 2 or 3 at a time in a bathroom about 30 feet away, and in the baby's room upstairs.

We have kids, dogs and a cat. All of whom play both inside and outside. We live in the NYC metro area and have had these flies for about two months.

posted by waterisfinite to Home & Garden (22 answers total)
That does look like a fruit fly to me. You have dish soap and a lid (saran with punched holes) on the fly traps?
Also, any sort of fruit scraps should go outside immediately. It can take a month or so. Sorry!
posted by TenaciousB at 8:22 AM on November 1, 2015

The problem has been so bad in and around Vancouver this year that it's been the topic of newspaper columns and drive-home radio shows. It's basically because we had a long summer and it was a hot summer.

The weather is warm, we leave windows open, the flies come inside and the multiply easily. They like water, which is why they are often in the kitchen. The only solution is to make sure everything is dry, and to wait for the cold to kill them off. They have vanished over the past couple of weeks.
posted by Nevin at 8:23 AM on November 1, 2015

Last time I had incurable fruit flies I had done everything you've done - removed all food sources, etc. Eventually I found that there was one can in the cabinet that was leaking. After removing that they were gone in a day or 2.

I've also heard people setting out a dish of vinegar with some soap mixed in to trap them.
posted by duoshao at 8:24 AM on November 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Persistence is your only hope here. I tend to vacuum them up. (i.e. keep the vacuum plugged in and suck them in the tube whenever I notice one). They've laid eggs. You need all those eggs to hatch and to kill the adults before they lay more eggs. But of course the occasional adult will still get to lay an egg, so you need those to hatch and then kill those before they lay eggs, etc. Eventually you'll get them.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:31 AM on November 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

We use apple cider vinegar with dish soap, and that cuts it down quite a bit. The dish soap is important, otherwise you've just created a fruit fly feeding station. I've tried a bunch of other kinds of traps, but that's been the only kind that's worked for us.

We also wash bananas when we bring them home, because someone told us they sometimes come in that way (via eggs in that stem area, I think). We wash all fruit, but bananas do seem to be a major source.

Ultimately, though, in warm weather, all you can really do is keep the numbers down. I've never been able to totally eliminate them for more than a week or so as long as it's warm out. They go away in the winter, as long as you let it get a little colder in your house.

(I did hear one horror story about someone with a year round fruit fly infestation, but according to the person who told me about it, her house is always really warm and she just sort of gave up even trying to control it.)
posted by ernielundquist at 8:38 AM on November 1, 2015

Mason Jar -> Add balsamic or apple cider vinegar

Coffee filter -> cut one small corner off.

Open filter and insert into mason jar. Flies fly in, but they don't check out.

If you google "coffee filter fly catcher"...
posted by humboldt32 at 8:38 AM on November 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

We've had luck controlling the population by taking half an orange and putting it face up in the oven with the door open overnight. Upon waking, before hitting the lights or anything, close then oven door (quickly) and turn on the broiler for a few minutes. And don't forget to vacuum up the remains.

It's not a cure all, but it helps.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:46 AM on November 1, 2015

Sorry, if you have tried this, but Balsamic Vinegar and dish soap has worked well for me.
The Balsamic Vinegar has a nice 'ripe fruit" bouquet that seems to be irresistible.
posted by calgirl at 8:49 AM on November 1, 2015

Also check your house plants in case this kind of thing is going on. Re food, keep everything in sealed containers (or in the fridge). I'd be tempted to use something like Raid. Here's what Raid says about fruit flies:

- Empty garbage cans regularly
- The key to solving an indoor breeding fly problem is to locate and remove the item that is attracting the adult fly – this will often solve the immediate problem
- Remove or refrigerate over-ripe fruits and vegetables
- These flies can also breed in mops that are continuously moist and not rinsed properly after use
- Clean out recyclables and empty bins regularly - these flies can breed in residue left in beverage cans and other recyclables
- Use a wire brush or drain cleaner to remove eggs/larvae from drains

and here are their suggested products for lots of indoor flies seen in many locations.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:19 AM on November 1, 2015

I find that if I feed the cat the cheap wet food (that he loves) instead of the expensive wet food (that he detests), I get nasty little flies. Could that be your source?
posted by PorcineWithMe at 9:27 AM on November 1, 2015

Trap that looks like this one but be sure to include some dishsoap in the liquid at the bottom.

This is what fruit fly labs use (except they'd probably use an erlenmeyer flask of beaker instead of a mason jar).
posted by sciencegeek at 9:29 AM on November 1, 2015

Try sweetened condensed milk about 1/8-1/4 inch thick on a dish. They can't resist or escape it.
posted by Oyéah at 10:16 AM on November 1, 2015

I like to use a beer bottle with an inch of liquid left, with a drop of dish soap. I suspect results may vary according to the type of beer, but haven't paid close enough attention. Wine also works.
posted by acidic at 10:39 AM on November 1, 2015

Search for rotten food in an odd place. I couldn't get rid of my fruit flies until I discovered the decaying potato that fell between my stove and counter.
posted by Melsky at 12:09 PM on November 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Saran wrap (air tight) over the drains, all the drains for > 24 hours. Maybe you can go away for a weekend.
posted by mattu at 12:24 PM on November 1, 2015

Just Nthing: every time i've had a fruit fly problem it disappears on its own a couple of days after I finally discover the rotten potato/onion/banana I hadn't even known was there.
posted by Andrhia at 2:11 PM on November 1, 2015

Do you keep compost out on the counter? We have to move ours to the freezer when the fruit flies come. Are there fresh (or not so fresh) flowers in the house?

What might they be after in the baby's room?
posted by bluedaisy at 3:49 PM on November 1, 2015

Maybe I'm wrong, but that looks more like a regular house fly to me than a fruit fly. (Just realized that's a pencil tip so my scale is off, will leave the rest of my comment though)

But maybe I'm just seeing (house) flys because they've been terrible here this summer. We've had some luck with home made gross traps - empty narrow necked bottle, with something gross and liquid (dog food or cat food + water has been our go to) at the bottom. They fly in but have trouble getting out so eventually drown. When the flys are gone or the trap starts to smell, just put the cap on and throw it away.

They come in waves, I think they are laying eggs in the dumpster and then when a fresh batch hatches they find their way inside looking for noms. I don't think they are breeding indoors though because we don't have anything around long enough for them to go from egg to flying beasties.
posted by pennypiper at 4:21 PM on November 1, 2015

apple cider vinegar fruit fly traps

In case you're exasperated enough to revisit things you've already tried, I've had success with using apple cider vinegar to combat fruit flies after initially having almost 0% luck with it. The things I changed so that it worked:

1) made sure to use apple cider vinegar with "the mother" - apple cider vingar with "the mother" will have a cloudy sediment that needs to be shaken up. If you're using cheaper, less cloudy-looking apple cider vinegar, maybe change it up.

2) Use multiple shot glasses, with the apple cider vinegar filled almost to the top of the glass. Don't put anything on top of the shot glass, just leave it open to the air.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:12 AM on November 2, 2015

My apartment has been battling fruit flies for a long time. Here's the winning combination that has consistently kept the numbers down:

Nthing vacuuming. It's a game! It's fun! So satisfying! Keeping the vacuum out and plugged in so you can nab a few whenever you enter the kitchen has been effective and great stress release. Use the narrow hose attachment for maximum suction power. And sneak from behind.

Nthing traps with a funnel entrance. Fruit flies are HELLA dumb and these traps catch A LOT of flies. I save up some of those pint-sized deli containers for this purpose. Stab a hole in the lid, and make a funnel out of scrap paper and tape it in the hole making sure to cover any gaps. The container is filled with the stinkiest vinegars currently in my pantry and any over-ripe fruit I happen to have. Toss the whole trap when done.
posted by blueberrypuffin at 9:26 AM on November 2, 2015

Thanks for the advice, y'all. I can't tell you how many different fruit / vinegar traps we have made. The funnel kind, the dish soap kind, the saran wrap kind. We have had various ones out for WEEKS. Not one single fly has EVER gotten caught. Not one!

We hung fly tape three days ago, and it hasn't caught a single fly. We spent this weekend pulling the stove away from the wall, and the fridge, too. And basically threw out all of our dry goods, and scrubbed the cabinets top to bottom again.

I think we have to burn the house down and just start from scratch!
posted by waterisfinite at 11:00 AM on November 4, 2015

We've been having the same problem, despite cleaning the kitchen in preparation for the Great Cookie Baking of 2015. Set up a DIY trap just an hour ago, but since we didn't have any apple cider vinegar we used water with dish soap and bits of banana and a slice of orange to attract them. It's working like a charm with four drowned already.
posted by Soliloquy at 3:26 PM on November 22, 2015

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