Natural Bug-Bombing: Get rid of fruit flies with no chemicals.

Fruit Fly

We had a little incident recently with some fruit flies.  A little bit of food had fallen off of the counter and back behind the trash can; due to our garbage service being canceled for about a week (maybe a little longer), our trash piled up for a bit because our landlord had told us to hang tight and we would get cans back.  Mr. Geek and I are kind of lazy about emptying the trash as it is, so we just didn’t take it out for a week.

When we finally did get our cans back, we discovered a small swarm of about “a million fruit flies!! Jesus!” behind the garbage can.  After we picked up the offending bit of rubbish, they branched out, seeking out our peaches, tomatoes, dishes, and whatever else they could find to feed off of.  We’d had some issues before with some sort of bug that had found its way into our pantry–likely as a result of not having any screens on two of our windows–and most of our food was locked up pretty tight, so they ended up buzzing around the refrigerator and the dishes, hoping for a morsel or two.  Put bluntly, it was gross and annoying.

Bug-bombing the apartment with chemicals was out of the question.  As I explained in a recent post, I haven’t used any kind of chemicals in the house for a long time, cleaners and the like.  We have some small furry kittens who probably wouldn’t appreciate me poisoning the air, carpet, and everything else.  I wouldn’t appreciate it much, either.  So I used my Google-Fu and did a little research.  Everyone has a slightly different method, but it basically boils down to this:

1) Get a container, such as a bowl or a jar, and fill it with something that fruit flies find tasty.  I used leftover Marsala wine that was a little too syrupy-sweet; cider or red wine vinegar supposedly also works.  Remember that fruit flies like fermenting, spoiling, rotting things, like fruit that’s going over.  [Edit--I have tried this trick with the cider vinegar, and I have to say, they loved the sweet wine, but they were iffy on the vinegar.  The bottle of Marsala wine I had bought was only five or six bucks--I'd recommend going for that instead of using up your vinegar.]

2) Devise a way either to trap or kill the flies once they are attracted to your bait.  Some recommended using a bit of dish soap to kill them; others recommended using plastic wrap with tiny holes poked in it (flies get in, can’t get out).  I used the latter method, using the tip of a steak knife to poke small holes in the plastic wrap.  It worked beautifully.  One site I saw used a jar and a tight paper funnel that would allow flies in but prevent them from going back out.  Flies are not that smart; they’re easy to trick.

3) Set the trap near places where fruit flies might congregate and get the scent of the delicious bait.

Not only did my trap work wonders, it worked fast.  In just a few short hours, the population was noticeably smaller.  Within a few days, they were gone but for a straggler or two.  I only had to change out the wine and plastic once per trap I set (one by the sink, one on the fridge).

If you’ve run across this page because you are actively having fruit fly problems, remember that they will recur if you don’t eliminate the source.  We’ve started keeping our fruits in the fridge (but not the tomatoes–I’ll be damned if I refrigerate tomatoes!) to avoid further incidents.  And our trash has been taken out quite recently.  But after you eliminate the source, you can break out the cider vinegar and plastic wrap to trap the greedy little scavengers without poisoning the rest of the inhabitants of your home.

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4 Comments on “Natural Bug-Bombing: Get rid of fruit flies with no chemicals.”

  1. [...] ways to get rid of the fruit flies – after all, the wonderful GreenGeekGirl devoted a whole post to just that [...]

  2. Brenda K says:

    How absolutely perfect!! I was guided back to this post by someone having landed on my blog via this very post, and it so happens that I need to find a cat- (and human-) friendly way to get rid of fruit flies, which have been becoming (is that a real verb conjugation??) an increasingly annoying problem now that summer is finally settling in. It’s got here quite late in L.A. these past few years for some weird reason or other.

    Thanks as always, Susie! (I apologise if I keep misspelling your name)

    • One thing I figured out–really sweet wine works best. Vinegar didn’t work so well, but the cheap, sweet marsala or whatever it was I used worked AWESOME.


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