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How to Kill Fruit Flies & Protect Your Fruit Bowl

Updated on February 2, 2018

Like myself, a lot of people maintain a nice bowl of fruit in their kitchen or dining area. It's not only a visual delight for your living space; it's also a great way to promote and maintain healthy eating habits among the members of your household.

Yet, when the weather turns hot and muggy, maintaining that precious bowl of fruit becomes much harder as we now have to contend with the dreaded fruit fly (drosophila melanogaster). This tiny pest will destroy your fruit bowl faster than you can say "peach." In this hub will show you how to kill them (or at least prevent them from showing up in the first place).

Know Your Enemy

Fruit Fly (Up Close and Personal)
Fruit Fly (Up Close and Personal)

Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly is a small fly species with red eyes and a body length that generally ranges between 3 and 4mm. Fruit fly populations tend to grow and expand during the summer months. Ideally, fruit flies seek out moist areas with plenty of organic material to lay their eggs. And their typical life cycle lasts only about 25 days.

The truly remarkable thing about fruit flies however, is the speed at which they reproduce. For this reason, fruit flies are often used in chemical, biological and medical experiments to study the effects of a hypothesis over the course of a few generations.

Scientific benefits aside, below we will look at various effective methods for getting rid of these little flying annoyances. The first few methods are meant for getting rid of fruit flies immediately; assuming you are desperate to destroy them right now. The second set of methods are meant to be generic traps to either prevent fruit flies from attacking your fruit bowl or to slowly diminish their presence altogether.

Destroying Them Now!

If you are a pacifist or an extremely good friend to animals, skip to the next section. Otherwise, let the mayhem begin.


Sticky Fly Swatter!

This first method is a tried and true way to get rid of small and annoying fruit flies (at least in the short term). It involved creating a sticky fly swatter. This way, when you swat the fruit flies their bodies collect on the swatter itself and you can dispose of them at your convenience.

Making one is very simple. All you need is:

  • 1 paper plate
  • cooking oil (preferably in a spray can).

You spray one side of the paper plate with the cooking oil, making sure to give it a good coating. And that's it. You're done.

Of course you also have the option of purchasing your own fly fighting tool of destruction. My own personal favorite is the Charcoal Companion Bug Zapper listed to the right. This nifty "electrified" tennis racket is probably a little overkill for getting rid of fruit flies. But it is versatile and can be used for mosquitos, gnats and other annoying things with wings.

Burning Incense

You can also drive fruit flies away from your fruit bowl or kill the ones nesting near your fruit by overloading their olfactory / respiratory systems. You see, in general many fly species have very sensitive olfactory "scent" and breathing organs. By overloading these organs, you can send the fly's whole system into havoc.

One "safe" way of doing this is to simply burn some incense or scented candles near the fruit flies nesting place.

Fly Traps and Breeding Prevention Techniques

Most fruit fly traps are fairly simple and take advantage of the two common weaknesses that this insect has: 1.) It's inability to get enough "wing lift" to fly out of enclosed spaces. And 2.) It's uncontrollable attraction to the smell of rotting fruit / vinegar.

Cone and Rotting Fruit Trick


This tried and true fruit fly trap is a favorite among farmer's markets and fruit stands nationwide. Additionally, it is very simple and very low cost. All you need is the following:

  • Piece of rotting fruit / Apple Cide Vinegar
  • Jar (Remove jar cover, don't need it.)
  • Piece of paper

Setting this trap up is simple. Simply place the piece of rotting fruit or apple cider vinegar in the jar. Fold the piece of paper into a cone shape and place the "smaller side of the cone" into the mouth of the jar. And that's it.

This is how it works. Fruit flies, fly down into the cone and straight into the jar because they are attracted to the piece of rotting fruit. However, they cannot fly out because the narrow opening means that they cannot get enough lift under their wings to do so.

Wine Bottle Trap

Not operating a farmer's market or a fruit stand? Well then maybe you need a classier solution. Or at least something easier to look at than rotting fruit. Well you're in luck because a half-empty wine bottle can work just as well to capture and or kill these little pests. The only materials that you need are:

  • 1 Wine Bottle (either half empty or with very little wine inside.)
  • Plastic Wrap (Optional)
  • Rubberband (Optional)

To set up this trap, simply place the open, half-empty wine bottle near the place where the offending insects are likely to congregate. Fruit flies go crazy for the smell of wine (because it is essentially fermented fruit). Once they fly down the neck of the bottle, they can't get out because they cannot get enough lift to bring themselves back out of the bottle neck.

To further ensure that the little buggers cannot fly out, you can cover the mouth of the wine bottle with plastic wrap, secure the plastic wrap with rubberbands and poke holes in the plastic wrap so that they fruit flies can get in, but they definitely can't get out.

Destroying Fruit Fly Habitats and Nests

Of course, the only true way of getting rid of fruit flies is to make sure they don't appear in the first place. Therefore, you should always take steps to destroy fruit fly breeding sites and potential fruit fly breeding sites.

In general, fruit flies love moist, damp, and humid places filled with rotting or decayed biomatter. Therefore, it is imperative that you regularly take out your trash and dispose of standing liquid in and around your household. For instance, during the summer months I am often guilty of leaving empty beer cans and empty beer bottles around the house unopened (slob....I know). And while I may think that these cans and bottles are empty, they often have small drops of liquid inside them. These small drops of liquid are like gold to a fruit fly.

Lastly, remember to take a lesson from you local grocer. Many big--named grocery chains have tight controls on their produce section. They never allow rotting fruit to linger in the aisles and they regularly check produce for unsightly infestations such as fungi. And should their staff ever spot fruit flies, they are quick to sanitize the area completely.

I hope this guide helps you in keeping your precious fruit bowl clean and infestation. For some inspiration lets take a look at luscious fruit bowl again (my fruit bowl).

My Fruit Bowl (No Fruit Flies Were Actually Harmed in the Production of this Hub)
My Fruit Bowl (No Fruit Flies Were Actually Harmed in the Production of this Hub)


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