Fruit fly is a collective term for the Drosophilidae family of insects, a wide and diverse category of bugs that are nuisance insects or pests due to their tendency to collect on rotting foods. Fruit flies rarely present a health or sanitation hazard in the home, but they can be irritating, especially if you are unable to locate the foods on which they are congregating. A related species known commonly as drain flies can be a similar nuisance and often accompany the presence of fruit flies. Several simple household remedies effectively control a fruit fly infestation.
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Preventive Measures Fruit flies tend to collect around rotting foods, so cleanliness is the first line of defense against an infestation. Discard anything that has given in to spoilage and remove any garbage bags with spoiled foods inside. If you compost your food waste, transfer the rotting foods to your outside compost heap. Some compost containers include carbon filters that trap odors inside the container rather than emitting smells that could attract fruit flies. If you take all these steps and still have a fruit fly problem, it is time to consider some chemical control methods.
Any of a number of common household chemicals can impel fruit flies to leave your home. If the fruit flies seem to congregate in a particular area, clean the area with spray window cleaner or warm water with a small amount of bleach, as these substances are fatal to fruit flies. Alternatively, you can "bait" fruit flies by leaving out a small amount of wine, fruit juice, beer or other odorous liquid that is likely to attract fruit flies in an open, microwave-safe container. The flies, in most cases, will fall into the liquid and drown; microwave the container to kill any eggs or larvae. If the fruit flies hover on the rim of the container and never fall inside to drown, home cleaning expert Susan J. Building recommends sprinkling powdered boric acid or powdered diatomite around the rim of the container.
Drain flies closely resemble fruit flies but differ in the regard that they tend to hover near sink drains rather than fruit. Many homeowners confuse the two, so it is ideal to take measures to control both fruit flies and drain flies if you discover an infestation. Keeping drains clean is the most effective means for getting rid of drain flies. This includes scrubbing clean not only the area around the drains but also deep cleaning with a long wire brush a few feet inside the drain. Drain flies lay eggs deep inside the drain, so the deeper you can clean, the better.
Alternative Control Methods
If natural household chemicals were not successful in eliminating your fruit fly problem, a commercial chemical solution may be a suitable alternative. There are numerous aerosol and powder-based insecticides commercially available for fruit fly control. When choosing one to purchase, make sure primarily that it is safe for indoor use in kitchens and around food, and that it is rated to kill fruit flies (insecticides commonly list the insect species that they are designed to kill as part of the product labeling).