Shoo, Fly, Don’t Bother Me, Because I Really Don’t Want to Spray Chemicals in My Home

comic by Geek And Poke: Fruit FliesHow Do I Get Rid of Fruit Flies Without Using Chemicals?

I noticed a week ago that a few fruit flies were buzzing around some herb seedings which my husband planted and which we kept inside our house. They hadn’t found my worm bin yet but I knew that if they did their population would sky-rocket.

Yesterday I had to admit they found it.

It seemed like more fruit flies were around even though a few days earlier my husband had replanted the seedlings outside. I noticed they were zooming around a plant I kept in our kitchen window. Then I looked down.

I swear they attacked my face. Fruit flies were zooming everywhere and a few knocked into my face! They’re prolific but not the smartest creatures, are they?

I was really disgusted. Frustrated and with a bad attitude, I sat next to the bin for a good ten minutes on the hunt. I waited for a fly to get near and then I would swat at it with a wet hand (it’s easier to catch fruit flies when your hand is wet). When I realized my effort was not the most effective I tore myself away, washed the dozen flies off my hand while attempting not to look at them, and scrubbed my hands with all the vigor I could.

Maybe I need a timeout.

I hate fruit flies. I’ve dealt with them before, usually in the summer months when my fridge is full and I have fruit in a basket on the table. Once in college I had a hyacinth plant in which fruit flies made a home. Rather than deal with the flies I tossed out the plant, and they quickly dies out when I removed the fruit and kept crumbs off the table. But how do I get rid of flies living in and around a bin of moist earth and food scraps?

I did not want to use chemicals, especially around the worms, so I went online for answers. I had visited Red Worm Composting before for answers so I visited there first, but I found that other sites basically said the same thing.

Three Steps to Getting Rid of Fruit Flies

  1. Find the source of the infestation and remove all food sources. Is a garbage can sitting full? Empty it. Do you have old bananas in the pantry? Eat them or wash and cover them. If you have a worm bin, remove any undigested food scraps until the fruit flies are gone. Also make sure there aren’t other food sources nearby such as crumbs on the floor or a dirty garbage disposal.
  2. Vacuum all the adults you see. This helps keep egg layers from laying more eggs and is a very effective step in crashing your fruit fly population. Keep a vacuüm nearby for the next few days so you can suck up the adults as you see more.
  3. Make apple cider vinegar traps. Pour some apple cider vinegar into a bowl or cup and add a drop of dish soap. (The soap decreases the surface tension of the water.) Cover the container with plastic wrap and poke a few holes for the flies to enter. It’s amazing how well this works. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar you can use a sweet-smelling alcohol, too. As a matter of fact, El Trapiche, the organic coffee and sugar cane plantation I visited in Costa Rica, used similar traps for beetles; they hung two cups, one inside the other with a bit of space between the two, from trees and filled the bottom cup with guaro, a slightly sweet alcohol distilled from sugar cane. Place the container near the source of flies. Depending on the size of the problem you may want to use multiple traps.

The most important thing is to take these steps as soon as you notice fruit flies in your home.

Immediately after taking these steps I noticed a huge difference in the number of visible flies, now temporarily at zero (I’m very thorough). I also made sure my bin had plenty of bedding by adding a bit more shredded newspaper on top (I vacuumed a bit of it in my effort to get every last adult fly).

Though in my frustration I gave them an extra day of breeding, today I have high hopes that the fruit flies will be completely gone in a few days.

By the way, if you feel like you have little flies crawling all over your scalp and body when you’re finished (like me, eek!), take a shower. Even though the problem is most likely in your head your skin and scalp follicles will feel much more normal and your brain will know those pests are gone!


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by kingsrookie on October 20, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    I have a composting bin so no matter what I’ll have a few fruit flies. I recently carved pumpkins and came across hundreds of them. I was showing it off and tapped it and a swarm flew out. It is kind of hard to control the population down here but I tend to use a red wine vinegar to catch them. This may be a tad risque but Bubblegum vodka even works! I was working in the garden and set a glass down, five minutes later my cup was filled. I was disgusted but glad to see it worked. Greeting from squidoo. Kingsrookie


  2. Since this post I spoke with a couple of employees at Worms Way about gnat/fruit fly deterrence in worm composting bins. They said any time the top newspaper bedding is moist add another layer of dry paper. Additionally, sprinkle a bit of gardening lime over each addition of food to the bin. They also showed me some gnat sticky paper, like fly paper, that attached to a wooden stick. I put one of these in my nearby houseplant, which helped tremendously in keeping the flies from nesting in my plant during this period.


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