Are there pesky little flies all over your day-old bananas and bottles of wine? Here's how to rid your kitchen of fruit flies for good.

By Real Simple Editors
Updated August 15, 2019
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How do you get rid of those tiny, little flies that love your produce and seem to multiply before your eyes? They frequently appear near unrefrigerated produce in your kitchen are probably fruit flies (sometimes called vinegar flies). They’re extremely hard to get rid of (they’re tiny, so they can even sneak through screened windows), but if you use a multiphase plan of attack, you should be able to get rid of them and spare both your produce and your sanity.

Where Do Fruit Flies Come From, and How Long Do They Live?

Fruit flies can lay up to 500 eggs at a time near the surface of fermenting (ripening) foods or other organic materials. The entire life cycle from egg to adult takes only about eight to 10 days so they proliferate with great rapidity. They can also lay their eggs in sink drains, garbage disposals, empty bottles and cans, garbage bags, and even damp mops and sponges.

The Trick to Preventing Fruit Flies in the First Place

The first step in fruit fly control is to eliminate the sources of attraction and breeding. Don’t leave ripened fruit or vegetables—like bananas, onions, tomatoes, or potatoes exposed; keep them in the refrigerator until the problem is resolved. Fruit flies also tend to like alcohol and other sugary drinks, so be wary of keeping things like an open bottle of wine and juice products out on the counter.

Frequently clean your recycling bins that hold empty bottles and cans, and make sure the contents are thoroughly cleaned before discarding. Be sure the bottoms and sides of all garbage cans are free of any small bits of food or spilled juices.

Even when all sources of attraction are removed, those speedy adult flies can scatter and lay eggs in a drain or another hard-to-reach location, so the cycle starts all over again. A pyrethrum-based aerosol insecticide may be used to kill adult flies if you can hit them, but it won’t take care of any eggs or larvae lurking in your kitchen.

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies Once They’ve Taken Over

Try a Homemade Fruit Fly Trap (That Couldn’t Be Easier to Make)
Fruit fly traps are important control tools that continue to eliminate new adults as they emerge. A simple, free, and effective homemade trap can be made by forming a cone-shaped funnel with an 8-by-10-inch piece of paper, sealing it with tape while leaving a small opening at the narrow end, and sticking it into a clean, empty wine bottle or jar. Bait the jar with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or a slice of ripe banana. Place one or more of these traps on counters or in pantries where the pests are seen most often. The fruit flies enter the trap easily, but can’t fly out. After you trap all visible flies, kill them with spray or release them outside. Re-bait and replace jar traps, if necessary.

Buy a Fruit Fly Trap
Store-bought fly traps can be purchased at your local hardware store. Disposable fruit fly traps, which are baited with a nontoxic lure, can catch about 2,000 flies each, and can last for one month. A few favorites: