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flyFlies in your kitchen-What can you do?

We use fruit flies to study human medical conditions. So we do our best to keep our flies alive. But most people are not as happy to see fruit flies in their kitchen as we are to see them in the lab. Below are some non-toxic and easy ways to get them out of your kitchen, or at least reduce their numbers.

Where do they come from?

Fruit flies have a keen sense of smell and are attracted by anything fermenting (not just fruit). They eat the sugars and vinegar produced by natural yeasts on fruits and vegetables, bread, beer, cider, wine, bread etc. So if your kitchen smells better than your neighbors (to them) they will invade your house in a flash. Occasionally, fruit flies can also be brought in as eggs (almost microscopic) on the skins of imported or local fruit or on vegetables.

Signs of Infestation:
A heavily infested compost bin. The arrow shows fruit fly pupal (cocoon) cases, the sign of a serious infestation. Another generation of fruit flies can hatch from these within a few days.
Signs of Infestation

How do I get rid of them?

This list is not exhaustive but may provide some ideas.

1) Remove all fruit fly food sources: i.e. refrigerate fruit and vegetables (the fridge is too cold for fruit flies), keep any indoor compost bins as clean as possible, completely dry, or put outside until the infestation dies down.

2) Set up fruit fly traps. These are simple traps shown below. They consist of an attractant like vinegar or cider in a container with saran wrap with a few holes or a simple funnel made from rolled paper to stop the flies from getting back out. While these trap the flies, they wont kill them. You can either shake the trap periodically to drown them, release them outside or add a drop of dish detergent to the vinegar so that they drown.

3)Another variant (not shown) is to use a bowl without plastic wrap but to mix vinegar and dish detergent in equal amounts.

Fruit Fly Traps:
To make a funnel trap, pour a little bit of vinegar or cider in an old bottle, roll some paper to make a funnel and tape shut. To make a bowl trap, pour vinegar or cider in a bowl, stretch a bit of plastic wrap over the top, attach with tape or elastic band and make a few small holes in the top with a fork for the flies to get in.
Fruit Fly Traps

4) Fly paper - sticky and ugly but it can cut down the number of flies.

5) Vacuuming flies. Use a hand held vacuum (dust buster or equivalent) or a hand held attachment on a regular vacuum. Be sure to empty the bag outside immediately! The flies will not die in the bag and can even breed there.

6) Finally, if you are feeling frustrated. Whack at them with a wet towel. This is relatively fun if inefficient.

What if nothing works?

Finally, if none of this works, remember that fruit flies do not bite or sting or carry disease. And they will die off in the winter. But the bad news is, if you have a serious infestation, you will probably have other, bigger, types of flies. And other types of flies pose a more serious health risk, in addition to being a bigger nuisance. So it is best to try to stop the infestation before it starts and if it has already started, try control it as quickly as possible before the flies living in your house produce the next generation.

For more information...

For more information try http://fly.bio.indiana.edu/getting-rid.htm

Good Luck!

Contact Information:

Dr. Vett Lloyd
Biology Department, Dalhousie University
Life Sciences Building 1355 Oxford St.
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada B3H 4J1
Phone: (902) 494-2551
Fax: (902) 494-3736


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