How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies Naturally + 4 DIY Fruit Fly Traps to Try

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They can be incredibly annoying, but there’s another reason to try to keep them at bay: they can do damage to your garden crops! When it comes to figuring out how to get rid of fruit flies, these ideas will help reduce their population. Plus, learn how to make an easy DIY fruit fly trap.

close up of fruit flies on a banana

With various fruit ripening here year round, fruit flies are an ongoing problem for us; food sources for them are plentiful. While I have yet to figure out how to eliminate them entirely, we’ve discovered some eradication tactics that work.

If you live near an orchard, vineyard, or farm, you might notice that the fruit fly population ramps up at harvest time.

Where do fruit flies come from?

While it may seem like they appear out of nowhere, these tiny flies breed, lay eggs, hatch into larvae, and emerge as adults. It’s a process that you probably don’t notice until the fruit flies become obvious. That life cycle can be completed in less than a week, and an adult produces about 500 fruit fly eggs in its lifetime.

These pests are drawn to rotting, fermenting fruit. But that’s not the only place they’ll complete their life cycle. Fruit flies can develop in very small amounts of moisture, often hidden away where you won’t notice them.

How to get rid of fruit flies: 10 ways to clear them out

Better kitchen compost

Probably the most common culprit of fruit fly infestations in the home, the kitchen compost is their haven. It might attract fruit flies to deposit eggs there, but it’s possible that the eggs were already on the fruit you just peeled. (I know, gross.) These buggers ‘sting’ ripe fruit and the eggs hatch inside, causing the fruit to rot.  (They do a lot of damage here to soft-skinned fruit like tomatoes.)

A kitchen compost container with a secure lid will prevent fruit flies from entering the container to lay eggs. It will also prevent newly hatched fruit flies from emerging. The trick with keeping your compost free of flies is to empty it daily and wash it after you do. Being mindful of our kitchen compost has made a big difference in our efforts to get rid of fruit flies.

Move your outdoor compost

Fruit flies can be a nuisance in compost piles as well as in the kitchen. To prevent an outdoor infestation from becoming an indoor infestation, keep your compost pile some distance from the house. [Read more about eliminating fruit flies in compost piles here.]

Refrigerate fruit

There’s no easy way to know if the produce you picked up at the farmers market is already infested with small fly eggs, but refrigerating fruits and vegetables will prevent larvae from hatching and dispersing. Instead, the flies will hatch and die inside the refrigerator, disrupting the life cycle. (And yes, causing a mess in the fridge as you can see, but they’re much easier to clean up when they’re not flying.)

dead winged bugs in a refrigerator

Cover your produce

Some ripened fruits and veggies are best stored at room temperature. Covering your fruit bowl until you use them will prevent adult flies from depositing eggs on them. Cracked areas on fruits and veggies are particularly susceptible.

Eliminate fruit fly breeding grounds

While the kitchen compost is a common source of fruit fly infestations, these tiny flies can breed in other damp areas, too. Wet cleaning rags, mops, and drains can be a problem, too. Pouring bleach or more natural citrus cleaner down drains during an infestation can help get rid of fruit flies.

Check your screens

Adult fruit flies will enter your home in search of overripe fruit if given the chance. Even just a small hole or tear in your screen can be an access point.

Vacuum them

It may sound silly, but during harvest season fruit flies can become really thick. A friend of mine discovered years ago that sucking fruit flies right out of the air with a vacuum attachment is a pretty easy way to get rid of fruit flies. And again, once you’ve eliminated the adult flies, be sure to remove the breeding grounds.

cone of paper sitting in a glass to make a DIY fruit fly trap

Make a DIY fruit fly trap

Making a DIY fruit fly trap is easy, and there are several ways to go about it. Take note of what the fruit flies in your neighborhood are attracted to. Some people swear by vinegar, but I’ve not had any luck with that here. With a trap, the trick is to get them into a place that they cannot get out of. (I guess the refrigerator might qualify as a DIY fruit fly trap, too, now that I think about it!)

Natural pest control allows us to keep the bugs in check without exposure to harsh chemicals. I’m all for that!

Enjoy a glass of wine

Wine drinkers, you know what I’m talking about. Wine is like a fruit fly magnet. Pour a glass and set it down and the fruit flies will move in before your next sip. You can replicate this by simply pouring about half an inch of wine in the bottom of a glass to make a DIY fruit trap that seems like a party.

Fruit flies can land on liquid without drowning, though. Adding a few drops of dish soap will break the surface tension causing them to sink when they hit the liquid.

Go bananas

Tuck a banana peel or two in a recycled plastic bag or a crumpled paper bag. Maneuver the bag opening so that the opening is pulled into a “neck” that’s not completely sealed. The fruit flies will be drawn to the banana and enter the bag. Monitor the bag and when you see a lot of flies entering, quickly grab the bag at the neck and close off their escape.

If you used a paper bag, you can drop the bag right into your outdoor compost pile. If you used a plastic bag, tie off the neck and dispose of it in the outside rubbish can.

Bananas are quite fragrant and a good attractant, but other overripe fresh fruit will work as well.

dead fruit flies in a jar of brown liquid set out to get rid of fruit flies

Vinegar and soap DIY fruit fly trap

Put about an inch of vinegar in a glass and add a few drops of liquid dish soap. Form a paper cone, leaving a small opening at the tip. Set the cone in the glass pointed end down and set near the infestation. Be sure to remove any other attractants that might divert them from this DIY fruit fly trap, such as rotting fruit or compost.

Note that if vinegar doesn’t seem to be the right attractant, you can try fruit juice or soy sauce, too, to attract and get rid of fruit flies. I’ve had better luck with both of those than I have with vinegar, sometimes.

Sticky DIY fruit fly trap

Punch a hole in a piece of recycled card stock (postcard size works well) and add a string or ribbon hanger. Spread the card stock with a thin layer of Tanglefoot, covering card completely. Allow to dry, then hang near fruit fly infestation.

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Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

12 comments… add one
  • Rika Aug 24, 2018, 11:35 am

    Just what I needed today. I have fruit flies hanging around my kitchen and I don’t know why. I’ve set the vinegar trap so I’ll see how it goes. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 27, 2018, 7:53 am

      You’re welcome!

  • April Sep 2, 2018, 7:20 am

    Try Apple cider vinegar. Makes all the difference and works like a charm. I add a fair amount into a container; I typically I use a small mason jar. Cover with cling wrap on the top and secure with a rubber band. Should be taunt, I poke a few holes with a fork, careful not to make them to big. Change out fluid when it gets too many dead flies. This has been my go to fruit fly trap for years. Works very well. I tend to keep a few jars in the kitchen, one by the kitchen sink and then wherever else a problem area is.

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 7, 2018, 7:35 am

      I’ve tried apple cider vinegar. It’s just not attractive to my fruit flies. 😉

  • DS Sep 9, 2018, 2:07 pm

    fruit flies also like wet cat food. I once wondered why cat was not eating and found dozens of larve in the food.

    • Kris Bordessa Sep 16, 2018, 9:44 am

      Yes! That happens here, too.

  • natasha Dec 28, 2018, 5:31 am

    When I get a batch I place the fruit bowl under the window frame with an obliging spider in it. I also open the window during the day. The result is that most fly away safely and the rest feed up a beneficial incumbent.

    • Kris Bordessa Jan 5, 2019, 4:42 pm

      Let Mother Nature do the work!

  • Annette Feb 1, 2019, 4:59 am

    I used to use wine in my trap, but found that a slice of lemon works even better! And the vacuuming trick works great. It’s the dead of winter, and I have them in my bathroom??? I have some plants in there, so I guess that is why. But that’s a new one…

  • Lemongrass Feb 18, 2019, 2:57 pm

    I have used apple cider vinegar and a bit of dish washing liquid and it worked well with a paper funnel in a jar.

  • Kristi Wheeler Aug 28, 2019, 7:30 am

    I didn’t even think about using wine, until I read your post! It’s true though, everytime I have a glass they seem attracted to it! Great tips! Thank you so much!

    • Kris Bordessa Aug 28, 2019, 11:43 am

      Yup, wine’ll do it!

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