Get rid of fruit flies.
August 8, 2008 12:15 PM   Subscribe

Get rid of fruit flies.

My place has a lot of fruit flies. I am keeping all food in the fridge, washed under the fridge and the stove, washed the counters, ran hot water down the drains for a while.

I made 3 traps - the inverted bottle, the jar with banana in it, and one with balsamic vinegar. I put saran wrap on top of the jars and made holes with a pen tip. Supposedly they don't find their way out again, but these ones are!!! I have seen them fly back out.

Are my holes just too big? Or is there some better method?
posted by Penelope to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
This method has worked well for me. I also use the funnel-in-a-bottle method mentioned in the comments. Just be sure to seal the crack where the funnel and bottle/jar meet or those little buggers will escape.
posted by Knappster at 12:26 PM on August 8, 2008

Make sure you wash your garbage cans. Pouring bleach down the drains should help too.
posted by blackkar at 12:30 PM on August 8, 2008

When I did the cup/saran wrap trap, I had to at least double up the saran wrap, and the holes should be pretty small.

The method that finally worked for me was spraying anywhere flies were hanging out with Lysol cleaning solution that contained bleach and using drano on our kitchen drain (I'm pretty sure we had flies in the drain). It's probably not the friendliest way to handle the problem, but after a week of bleaching, the problem worked.

According to Haley's hints a bowl of apple vinegar is supposed to work too, but I haven't tried that.
posted by drezdn at 12:32 PM on August 8, 2008

a few strategically placed glasses of red wine worked for me.
posted by plexi at 12:38 PM on August 8, 2008

Response by poster: I live in an old condo (about 80 years old). It seems to be someone told me I shouldn't pour bleach down the pipes, it was bad. Anyone know aything about this, or am I thinking of Drano?
posted by Penelope at 12:40 PM on August 8, 2008

It seems to be someone told me I shouldn't pour bleach down the pipes, it was bad.

Bleach is pretty much what you need here, and it doesn't hurt anything to pour it down pipes in solution with water. Make a weak bleach/water solution (about a cup of bleach per gallon of water) and clean surfaces, sinks, etc. Pour it all down the drain. Bleach chemically breaks down to salt water.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:02 PM on August 8, 2008

I've had huge success with a old wine (vinegar essentially) in a shallow saucer covered with plastic wrap. The holes do need to be fairly carefully sized. Too small and they can't go in, too big and they crawl out. The end of a very sharp pencil works well, keep trying until it works because when it does work it kills them all very quickly.

I bet you are thinking of Drano, because it is highly corrosive and can eat through old pipes. It doesn't matter because you really don't need anything that serious. If there are fruit flies in your drains, why not keep them stopped up with a rubber ball when you aren't using them? A few days without food and those flies will be history.
posted by ChrisHartley at 1:07 PM on August 8, 2008

Yeah, a couple of drops of dish soap in the vinegar (as per Knappster's link) is the key. That destroys the surface tension of the vinegar, so the flies sink and drown. Otherwise, they just swim to the side and climb out.
posted by bricoleur at 1:08 PM on August 8, 2008

Knappster's first method worked for me too, just a glass of half water half vinegar and a dash of dish soap. I'm not sure they go for balsamic vinegar, fruit flies don't have our refined palate, so use apple cider vinegar. The soap is important because is lowers the surface tension of the water, so if they touch it they fall in and drown. I collected about 50 in 8 hours this way.
posted by Who_Am_I at 1:11 PM on August 8, 2008

I found my best success by filling a large bowl with white wine, and then putting a smidge of dish soap into it. The dish soap reduces the surface tension of the wine, which means the flies can't land on it and then fly away so easily - and then they're more likely to drown. You can also dilute the wine with water to save money (and/or wine).
posted by pazazygeek at 1:16 PM on August 8, 2008

And, that's what I get for waiting too long to submit my answer - everyone else has the same answer before me and I don't notice.
posted by pazazygeek at 1:17 PM on August 8, 2008

In my old apartment we had a glass bottle with rice wine vinegar in it that had one of those removable metal and plastic bar pouring spouts. We didn't really use it, but it looked pretty next to the bottles filled with olive oil and sesame oil. We had fruit flies for a little while in the fall and then they disappeared when winter came. I think we noticed the bottle was full of dead fruit flies in February.

I think I had a fruit fly colony living in the drain of my kitchen sink recently. They mysteriously disappeared after I'd soaked a couple sweaters in the sink with some Oxyclean. I don't know if Oxyclean is safer for pipes than chlorine bleach though. If you have some shirts that need armpit smell removed from them, you may as well kill two birds with one stone.
posted by giraffe at 1:18 PM on August 8, 2008

Uh, now imagine that answer with no run-on sentences.
posted by giraffe at 1:19 PM on August 8, 2008

I always use a soda bottle with the top cut off and inverted. Orange juice in the bottom, with some washing up liquid to remove the surface tension. Takes a day or two to get going, but you'll soon have it full of dead flies.
posted by Solomon at 1:28 PM on August 8, 2008

Nthing the cider vinegar and dish soap solution. I use a plastic container I'm about to recycle so that I don't have to deal with cleaning it up after emptying it. Works great.
posted by rivenwanderer at 1:50 PM on August 8, 2008

Dish soap and cider vinegar or old wine. It works like gangbusters.

Do you have any house plants? I discovered that the flies were laying eggs and living on the plants, rather than on fruit or food. I re-potted the plants with sterilized soil and left a cup of dish soap/vinegar solution, and the problem cleared up in a few weeks.
posted by muddgirl at 1:52 PM on August 8, 2008

I mix cider vinegar (sweeter so more tempting for the flies) with equal parts water and then a couple of drops of liquid soap or detergent (this cuts the surface tension of the liquid so that they flies can sit on top of it and will instead drown). Because you added the soap and negated the surface tension, you don't have to worry about the saran wrap.
posted by kenzi23 at 2:16 PM on August 8, 2008

You're probably thinking of drano. You could also try pouring down plenty of boiling water. (Also a much better way to fix a slow drain vs drano).
posted by gauchodaspampas at 2:43 PM on August 8, 2008

I found this out by accident after a party. If you leave 1/2" of red wine in a glass on a countertop, fruit flies will have themselves a short-lived bacchanalia, before they all drown in it. However, this is a waste of wine, so I'll give the vinegar & detergent trick a try next time.
posted by workerant at 3:53 PM on August 8, 2008

I'm not so sure the wine will work, I've seen clouds of them rising from an old glass of red wine. Maybe the alcohol had evaporated.

A slice of pineapple on a bright white ceramic plate (they like white) and then nuke it with bug spray once they conglomerate there.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:35 PM on August 8, 2008

This method is my most reliable, I end up having to do it every summer.

Take an empty wide-mouth drink bottle. Sports drinks are usually just the right size. Stuff a banana peel or two down there.

Take a square-ish piece of stiff-ish paper (junk mail envelope is probably good). Roll it into a funnel so that it is just barely closed on one end - the hole will be very small, about the size of a pen tip. The other end will be large, maybe one to two inches across. Tape into the funnel shape so it doesn't unroll.

Insert the funnel into the bottle, so that the tiny end is an inch or two below the neck. Tape the funnel to the bottle by going around the neck.

Wait a day or two.

You should then have a whole colony of flies in there feasting on the banana peel. If you still have the bottle cap, it's easy to remove the funnel and quickly cap the bottle for easy disposal.
posted by pants at 5:56 AM on August 9, 2008

Why, with an electric bug swatting tennis racket of course
posted by meta_eli at 8:23 AM on August 9, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, I am almost rid of them! : )
posted by Penelope at 3:40 PM on August 9, 2008

Dry things out. Fruit flies needs water to hatch their eggs, and even a drop of standing water will help keep them going. The drier your house is, the faster they'll die out and not reproduce.
posted by Citrus at 9:32 AM on August 11, 2008

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