Danny Bonvissuto, HGTV Gardens Contributor

Danny Bonvissuto

Tags:

fruit fly
Rotten fruit is a siren song to the fruit fly.

People have been writing about ways to get rid of fruit flies since fruit, flies, pens and paper were created. Some say you should refrigerate all fruit. Others say you should buy commercial traps. But we have the end-all, be-all, now-and-forever answer thanks to Todd Schlenke, assistant professor of biology at Emory University, who spends all day studying these pesky pests.

Schlenke works with the genus Drosophila—as opposed to the larger Mediterranean fruit flies that live in orchards—and studies their immune systems and resistance to insecticides. Despite a really fantastic photo on his website that shows him and "Team Schlenke" wearing fruit fly t-shirts to a Drosophilia conference in Chicago, Schlenke swears he's not a fly guy. "I'm not interested in flies per se; I'm just interested in them because they're useful to answer scientific questions."


How To Control Common Garden Pests 9 photos

Fruit flies may be tiny, but they have a powerful sense of smell and pick up on "odor plumes" that emanate from your home. "Fruit flies spend their whole lives searching for the smell of rotting fruit, then get in through cracks in the door or however the smell is getting out of your house," Schlenke says. "Fruit flies don't actually eat fruit, despite the name. They eat the fungus or rot that grows on the fruit. So the best thing is to not let your fruit rot."

According to Schlenke, a brown banana isn't a problem—it's fruit that's molding or visibly decaying in your kitchen that attracts the flies. If fruit is left to rot for long periods of time, fruit flies can lay and hatch eggs on it. "It's rare that flies are reproducing in your house unless you have rotting fruit around a lot," he says. "In the best conditions it takes 10 days to go through their whole cycle from larvae to pupae to metamorphosis."

But if fruit flies have made themselves at home in your kitchen, Schlenke says the best way to get rid of them is to give them a nice glass of wine and say goodbye. "Fruit flies like the smell of rotting fruit because they eat the microorganisms, like fungi, that make up the rot. Fungi convert fruit sugars into energy using the process of fermentation, of which alcohol is a byproduct," he says. "So if you have a glass of wine—which is really fermented fruit—or vinegar—which is really, really fermented fruit—that's where they want to be."

And that's where you want a funnel to be. "Fruit flies will go through the hole for that smell and get trapped in the liquid," Schlenke says. "Around the lab, we make traps like that with vinegar all the time. If you want to make it even better, you can put baker's yeast in the vinegar as well."

21 Comments About this Article

  • Mary Cleminson
    Drink the wine and put raw chestnuts in the bottom of the fruit bowl! I've had the same 4 chestnuts for 5 years and not a fruit fly in sight.

    Posted 1 year ago

    Flag this Comment
  • David Simpson
    Put a small piece of fruit such as banana or pinapple and some water in a jar. Cover the top of the jar with Saran wrap, and poke a small hole in the wrap. The flies get in, but they can't get out!

    Posted 1 year ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Janet Bishop Majane
    My mother did this back when I was a kid... and that was a LONG time ago ;)

    Posted 1 year ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Manny Negron
    Does this work with regular house flies (don't know what kind :-)

    Posted 1 year ago

    Flag this Comment
  • HGTVMallory
    Leftover wine - hah!

    Posted 1 year ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Amanda Sherrick-Kiddey
    we put vinegar in a open shallow bowl, and add a drop of dishsoap. works every time

    Posted 12 months ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Brad
    I had a roomie who didn't want to kill them so she just put a bit of ripe banana in the bottom of a quart mason jar and left it on the counter. The flies went in the jar during the night and come morning she would sneak up and put the lid on then take them outside and let them go. So they could come back in LOL. Probably not, we lived on an organic farm and orchard. Drink the wine, just use a slice of ripe fruit in a jar.

    Posted 12 months ago

    Flag this Comment
  • sted vars
    Make sure to check the fly's ID card to see if it's older than five days.

    Posted 12 months ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Mickey Oberman
    Get a very tiny fly swatter.

    Posted 12 months ago

    Flag this Comment
  • Dave Smith
    Actually just poor a half glass of wine red or white wine. The fly's can't resist the smell and drown themselves. You will be rid if them in one day.

    Posted 12 months ago

    Flag this Comment

We Recommend...

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ants

A beneficial insect you'll want to see pack up its tool belt and scram.