Are fruit flies spoiling your food prep fun? Ripe fruit, dirty drains or a neglected compost pail could be the problem. Metro Natural Gardening Expert Carl Grimm shared tips for keeping fruit flies out of your face without poisonous pesticides.
Fruit flies live in rotting food, dirty drains, and discarded wine or juice containers
Their eggs or larva usually arrive on fruits and vegetables, and when they mature, they look for smelly wet areas to lay more eggs – a single female fly can generate up to 2,000 offspring! Fruit flies are usually about 1/8 of an inch long, tan in color with a dark rear end and red eyes. If they have a noticeable black spot on each wing, you may have Spotted Wing Drosophila, which should be reported to your local extension agent.
Keep countertop compost enclosed and emptied regularly
Compost in the kitchen can breed fruit flies if it sits for a week or more. Empty it at least once a week. If you do have a fruit fly problem, it is best to empty compost nightly until it subsides. Alternatively, use a container that seals completely so flies cannot enter. To keep your city of Portland compost pail tidy, try lining with newspaper and using that to wrap the food waste for placing in your yard waste collection bin.
Clean drains regularly with boiling water or baking soda and vinegar, not toxic drain cleaner!
Fruit flies can live on the gunk that builds up in your drain. But there is no need for hazardous drain cleaners. Instead, use boiling water or a sprinkling of baking soda followed by a dash of vinegar a couple times a month.
Seal up or refrigerate all fruits and vegetables
If you have fruit flies, remove all possible breeding grounds by refrigerating or sealing up fruits, potatoes, onions and other vegetables.
Trap fruit flies with apple cider vinegar and dish soap
To avoid the dangers of pesticides, make a simple nontoxic trap by putting apple cider vinegar and a few drops of dish soap in a glass. This will attract and drown most flies within a few nights. If you do not have apple cider vinegar, try using some “attractive” rotting fruit, or a yeast-sugar-water mixture, or beer or wine in a jar sealed with plastic wrap that has one or two tiny holes poked by a pencil tip. You can release the trapped flies outdoors or drown them.
For fun fruit fly control… grow carnivorous plants!
Several carnivorous plants will eat fruit flies, and look beautiful on a windowsill. Sundews and other insect-eating plants from tropical areas are best since they are adapted to the warm temperatures inside a house.
Call Metro at 503-234-3000 for a free copy of the Hazardless Home Handbook or for natural gardening program information, or visit www.oregonmetro.gov/garden to learn more.
For more information on nontoxic fruit fly control, visit http://www.pesticide.org/solutions/home-and-garden-toolbox/pest-solutions/fruit-flies.