The buzzing, pesky, little fruit flies Drosophila melanogaster is the last thing you want to see when you’re sitting down for breakfast or while cooking dinner. Once they’ve arrived, these tiny pests indeed prove to be challenging to get rid of. But worry not. With some thorough cleaning and a few household products, you can keep them at bay.
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Where do fruit flies come from
But first things first. How do fruit flies end up in your home in the first place? When fruit flies infest a home, it can seem as if they appear out of nowhere. A primary reason for this perception is the pests’ rapid reproduction and fast development. In a single breeding season, these insect pests may produce 500 offspring, and their entire life cycle only lasts one week. After the female deposits her eggs, they will hatch within 24-30 hours. As a result, fruit fly populations will grow quickly. So this means that these factors make controlling pests difficult.
These insects lay their eggs inside drains that are not kept clean, trash bins, mop buckets, or directly on rotting fruits and vegetables. Additionally, homeowners may carry these pests inside by bringing in garden crops. As ripe fruits are plentiful in the summer and autumn, fruit fly eggs and adult flies can end up in kitchens through fresh garden produce brought inside. Also, fruit flies can easily use an open window to get in.
Fruit flies’ life cycle
A fruit fly goes through four stages during development, as do most insects. An egg becomes a larva, gradually develops into a pupa, and then becomes an adult. Upon finding ripening fruit, the female bores tiny holes in it and lays her eggs there. Fruit flies’ eggs are shaped like a banana and are white in colour.
Eggs will hatch quickly after they’ve been laid, and tiny larvae will emerge. After feeding for a while, the maggots will begin their next phase. After several moults, the larvae will move from the watery fruit to a dry area to complete their development.
When the larvae are no longer active, they transform into brown pupae with a hard shells. This is the stage in which the fruit fly develops its features and becomes an adult after a few days. This process lasts between 7 and 9 days but could last longer depending on environmental conditions.
Signs of a fruit flies infestation
Adult flies and pupae are the two most visible signs of fruit fly activity. It is common to see adult flies flying around kitchens or rubbish bins, as well as near decaying fruit or vegetables. Empty liquor and beer bottles also appeal to them. This makes our kitchens, unfortunately, breeding grounds for them. Waste bins containing food, garbage disposals, drains, and even mop buckets are common places where they can reproduce.
Do fruit flies bite?
The fruit fly prefers fermenting fruit and does not feed on blood, nor do they have biting mouthparts. Therefore, these flies don’t bite even if several thousand of them are present.
Are fruit flies dangerous?
The nuisance of fruit flies is accompanied by the risk of food contamination with bacteria and other pathogens. Fruit flies can transfer germs from a dirty surface to a clean one. Listeria, salmonella, and E. coli are examples of some bacteria they may carry. And food poisoning can be caused by all three of these germs.
When you come in contact with fruit flies, it is essential to wash your hands. You should also avoid killing them with bare hands. Furthermore, if fruits and vegetables are left out without protection, you should thoroughly rinse them.
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How to get rid of fruit flies in the house
It’s easy to eliminate fruit flies with a few steps and prevent future infestations. Maintaining a fruit fly-free home is a continuous process, not an overnight fix.
Find the source
It should be noted that, despite its name, fruit fries are not exclusive to fruit alone. The source of an infestation can also be found in other products too, such as an overlooked bag of potatoes or a forgotten onion in a cupboard.
Empty your bins
We usually wait until they are full, but it’s a good idea to clean them daily during the summer. In particular, compost bins and any other bin containing food waste should be cleaned regularly. By emptying and wiping them down every day, you will reduce fruit fly breeding grounds and unpleasant kitchen smells. This way, you’ll diminish the risk of other pests, as well.
Drains should be sanitised and closed
Another pest that can be misunderstood for fruit flies is the drain fly (or sewer gnat) because they are quite similar. Using bleach, drain cleaner, or a homemade mixture (for example, baking soda and vinegar) will deep clean the drain, which can be sealed when you are not using the sink.
Wash and refrigerate ripe fruit
Often, fruit flies enter your home through the fruit you buy, as we’ve already mentioned above. So, as soon as you bring fruit home, wash it. Alternatively, you can store it in a clean fruit bowl or a container with an airtight seal, so it can be kept in the refrigerator.
Set a fruit fly trap
If any of these insects are still buzzing around your kitchen, you’ll need to set a trap to get rid of them entirely after cleaning your kitchen and removing any possible breeding grounds.
Fill a few small containers with apple cider vinegar, a little washing-up liquid, and some ripe chopped fruit, like grapes or bananas. Cover the containers with cling film and poke a few holes in them with a toothpick.
Alternatively, you could roll a piece of paper into a funnel and cover the containers if you don’t have cling film. Ideally, these traps should allow fruit flies to get into them, but not out. To get rid of lingering flies, place a few of these around the kitchen for a few days. Over time, vinegar evaporates, so top it up whenever you notice the level is getting low.
Did you know that you can use essential oils, including lemongrass, to get rid of fruit flies? Making lemongrass spray is easy. 4 cups (950 mL) of water and 14 drops of lemongrass essential oil should be mixed together in a spray bottle. Shake well and only spray on surfaces where you see fruit flies: cabinets, countertops, and walls. Don’t spray any food with it. Amongst the scents that repel fruit flies are also basil, peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender, and clove.
Bring in the experts
If any insects invade your home and take over, you may want to call a company that specialises in bug extermination. Some pest control companies employ advanced methods that are more aggressive than those you may be able to use at home or buy from the store. For most types of insect infestation, a professional fogging option or fumigation service is recommended, as it’s a fast way to get rid of an insect pest problem.
Check also: How to Get Rid of Flies
- DIY methods like those above can help banish some of the flies, but preventing an infestation is a more effective solution.
- Rubbish bins should be tightly closed, and the surrounding area should be kept clean.
- Flytraps should be placed strategically. Near windows, doors, or garbage cans, for example.
- Fruit flies prefer fermenting fruit and do not feed on blood or have biting mouthparts.