waging war on fruit flies

26 July 2014

After I’m not even sure how many weeks, the war on fruit flies is finally over.

Sure, there’s still one or two solitary flies hiding out, but I’ll find them and they will meet a squishy death. And I am beyond happy this is finally over.

It all started a while back when I left some rice in the rice cooker, and we had our first amazingly humid days of summer. I’ve never really thought much about leaving cooked rice in my rice cooker. I figured it’d just harden back up again. And under other circumstances, it might have. But with so much heat and humidity in my tiny apartment… it just got gross.

Then with the knee injury, I wasn’t able to take the trash out. So I had a small pile of trash bags all tied off and double bagged sitting in my kitchen. It wasn’t ideal, but there was just no way to go downstairs with a bum knee or on crutches carrying those bags. Especially not the ones with kitty litter in them.

I tried a couple things, with varying results.

First up: Wine bottle trap
The idea with this one is that you leave just about an inch of wine left — generally red or sweet wines. Now, some people say to make a funnel out of paper and stick that in the bottle. The flies will go down into the bottle, but will have a hard time getting back up through the small hole of the funnel, especially when they get drunk. Others say you can cover it with cling wrap with small holes in it. Again, the idea is to keep the flies in the bottle.

This method kind of worked… only in that flies congregated around the bottle. It really didn’t capture that many flies.

Next: a fan
This actually worked somewhat. It doesn’t really kill the flies, but it keeps them out of problem areas. Their little wings just aren’t strong enough to withstand the wind produced by the fan. I mostly just used this to keep them out of the kitchen.

And then: Cedar incense
So the idea here is that 1) fruit flies and other bugs dislike the smell of cedar. There’s a few other scents I think are supposed to keep them out too, but I liked the idea of cedar. 2) The smoke clogs up their little lungs.

Now, the cedar did sort of work. They did not like the smoke. However, instead of really killing them, I found they ended up just moving into one room (which in my case was the bathroom)

Finally: Vinegar traps
I wish I would have done these in the beginning. I was just lazy and maybe a little too hopeful for the cedar to work. (And yes, sort of wanted an excuse to make my house smell like a campfire.) You pour a little vinegar — some people swear by apple cider vinegar, I used plain, cheap, white vinegar — into a cup or dish or bowl, I used empty dip or butter containers. They’re cheap and I don’t mind throwing them away. Now, the key is, mix a little bit of dish soap in the vinegar. Then you cover the container with cling wrap. Make sure it’s secure and tight. You can use a rubber band or tape. Then poke small holes in the cling wrap. Not too many, and not too big. You want them to be able to go in, but not be able to come back out. The vinegar will draw them in, and then the soap will make it so they can’t really break the surface tension and they drown.

Does this trap work?

fruit fly vinegar trap

That was after 1 day. It’s gross, yes. Especially once you realize just how many flies were in your house. But it works. It most definitely works. I set up traps in a couple areas and within a few days I had 95% of the flies captured.

Now to keep out the flies for the future:
– I wash my fruit and produce as soon as it comes home from the grocery store. This kills any eggs that might happen to already be on the fruit. (Also: GROSS).
– Get rid of produce that’s going bad — triple bag it and tie it off tight before putting it in the trash.
– Take the trash out regularly and clean, clean, clean. Especially drains. Throw out sponges.
– On extra humid days, I make sure no food is left out that’s not in an air-tight container or sealed off properly.
– Keep vinegar on hand. I use it for cleaning anyway, but just in case they pop up again… I’m ready.

I read somewhere to spray fruit with vinegar. Don’t. Vinegar attracts flies, which is exactly the opposite thing you’re trying to do.

For tiny little things, they’re sort of perfectly designed for what they do. Which can be very unfortunate for us. But, hey, at least that trap works.

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