How to handle fruit flies

How to handle fruit flies

Last week I talked about picking out good counter top storage containers for the fruits and veggies that taste best at room temperature. Let’s be real, tomatoes taste best at room temperature but there is always the risk of attracting fruit flies.

Fruit flies have an incredible sense of smell and can detect fermenting fruit from a significant distance. Because they’re so tiny fruit flies can easily get into a home through tiny cracks in a doorway or window. They’re even small enough to fly through holes in your window screen.

Once they’ve found a tasty fruit that’s past it’s peak they’ll settle down with another nice fruit fly and lay some eggs. It takes 8 days for a fruit fly to hatch and grow into an adult and their lifespan is about two months.  

If you experience a case of fruit flies it’s possible that a few eggs hitched a ride in on some produce, but it’s just as likely that adult fruit flies caught the scent and found their way into your kitchen.

Once you have them there are two things you need to do; clean up and make a trap.

Go through all of the produce on your counter and discard/compost anything that has started to turn. Move everything off your counters and wipe them down. Clean the bottom of any containers and appliances before you put them back on the counter. Clean the floors as well. If the fruit flies have come on strong consider putting all of your counter top produce into the fridge for a couple days or investing in a covering like this one until the bugs have been dealt with. It will be easier to trap them once you have their full attention.

The next step is to make a trap. You’ve heard that saying about catching more flies with honey than vinegar, right? It’s great advice for building social skills but fruit flies want the vinegar! They seek out fruit that has just started to ferment. Maybe a peach was sitting in the same spot for a little too long and has started getting soft on the bottom. That’s what fruit flies are looking for and the smell of vinegar or even red wine will draw in a fruit fly like a moth to flame.

Super simple trap #1 - pour a little apple cider vinegar, red wine, or even beer into a small cup. Cover the cup with plastic wrap and use something thin to poke tiny holes into the covering. Something like the metal prong of an old school comb would be ideal. A fork might be too big.

Super simple trap #2 - pour a little vinegar or wine into a glass jar. A standard mason jar is a good size, not too short, not too wide. Roll a piece of paper cross ways into a funnel shape and place it in the jar. Make the funnel just small enough that it’ll expand slightly to fit the width of the jar.

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In both cases the fruit flies will be attracted to the content of the jar and get stuck. You can add a dash of dish soap to the vinegar for extra stickiness. Some people swear by it and some say it doesn’t make a different. I usually forget to add it and vinegar works just fine.

Sometimes I'll fill the jar mostly full and submerge a crumpled paper towel. It seems that the flies try to land on the small amount of paper towel that floats above the liquid and they drown much quicker. I really detest seeing flies crawling around inside the jar, so this method works for me.

Of course, the best defense is a good offense.

Use the first in, first out rule to make sure everything gets eaten while it’s in good condition. Keep your counters clean and change out your vinegar trap as often as you need to until the flies subside.


I teach people how to cook and eat real food with confidence so that you can have less stress, better health, and WAY more fun in the kitchen and in life.

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