Flies in my garden


Fruit Flies

General Information, Prevention, & Control

Latin Name

Family Drosophilidae

What do fruit flies look like?

  • Size: Drosophila melanogaster is a species of small fly. Adults are 3 to 4 mm long.
  • Eyes: May have red eyes, though some are dark eyed
  • Body: Tan thorax. The abdomen is black on top, gray underneath.
  • Color: Fruit flies can appear to be brown or tan in color.

How Did I Get Fruit Flies?

Fruit flies often infest homes with ripe, rotting, or decayed fruit and produce. They also enjoy fermented items such as beer, liquor, and wine. Fruit flies also may breed and develop in drains, garbage disposals, trash cans, and mop buckets. Once they begin reproducing indoors, females are able to lay about 500 eggs and the eggs will hatch in as little as 24-30 hours after being deposited by the female. This makes the pests difficult to control.

How Serious Are Fruit Flies?

Aside from being a nuisance, fruit flies they have the potential to contaminate food with bacteria and other pathogens. To avoid a fruit fly infestation, store produce in air-tight containers or refrigerators and inspect any fruits or vegetables brought into the home. Also, establish a schedule to regularly clean drain lines, garbage disposals and any location where food waste accumulates.

How Do You Get Rid of Fruit Flies?

What Orkin Does

The Orkin Man™ is trained to help manage fruit flies. Since every home is different, the Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.

Keeping fruit flies out of your home is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps—Assess, Implement and Monitor.

The Orkin Man™ can provide the right solution to keep fruit flies in their place…out of your home.

Signs of a Fruit Fly Infestation

The two most visible signs of fruit fly activity would be the adult flies and the pupae.

Adult flies often are seen flying around in kitchens or trash cans near the decaying fruit or vegetables. They also are attracted to liquor and liquor/beer bottles.

The mature larvae of fruit flies crawl out of the breeding material to pupate in a dry nearby spot. They sometimes are mistaken for cockroach or rodent droppings but can easily be differentiated by a pair of horns on one end of the pupae.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

What do they eat?

Fruit flies eat ripened fruit and vegetables and fermenting products. Ream more about fruit flies in food.

When are Fruit Flies Active?

Populations tend to build during the summer, becoming very abundant at harvest time. Indoors, fruit flies are frequently active at all times of the year.

Reproduction & Life Cycle

The common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) is known for its ability to reproduce rapidly. Larvae of fruit flies develop in moist areas where organic material and standing water are present. The entire life cycle lasts 25 days or more depending on the environmental conditions and the availability of food.

Like other fly species, fruit flies experience a four-stage life cycle: beginning as eggs, they undergo larval and pupal stages before emerging as adults. The early life stages span approximately a few days and fruit flies can complete their development in as little as week in ideal temperature conditions. Adult fruit flies can live up to 30 days.

Fruit Fly Close-up

Fruit Fly Prevention Tips

It is extremely difficult to rid a home of the common fruit fly. Fruit flies are attracted to sugary, organic materials. As their name suggests, they are commonly found infesting fruit. However, fruit flies are also capable of breeding in decaying meat, trash bins and large spills of soda or alcohol. Any fruit brought home following that should be stored in the refrigerator if appropriate.

Regularly wipe counters, clean spills and empty your trash cans to help prevent fruit fly infestations.

The first step in addressing a fruit fly infestation is the destruction of their feeding and breeding grounds. Fruit flies often lay their eggs in rotten fruit and other soft, sweet, organic materials. If you identify a fruit fly infestation in your kitchen, dispose of all over-ripe or damaged fruit. Any subsequently purchased fruit or vegetables should be kept in the refrigerator until the fruit fly infestation dissipates.

If there is no fruit or vegetable matter in your kitchen, check your garbage and recycling bins. Fruit flies may also use unclean drains as breeding grounds. Outdoor drains are likely sources of yard-based fruit flies, as are overripe fruits beneath the trees from which they have fallen.

After isolating the fly breeding ground, control methods may be utilized. Although eradication may require several treatments, the lack of food available to fly populations will eventually cause them to die out.

Other Ways to Remove Fruit Flies From Your House

Bacterial digesters are available to pour down infested drains. Bleach can sometimes be effective; although it is rarely stays in the drain long enough to address the accumulated slime that attracts fruit flies. While not effective at eliminating an infestation, fruit fly traps may provide temporary relief by trapping some of the adults.

Types of Fruit Flies

  • Mexican Fruit Flies
  • Citrus Fruit Flies
  • Olive Fruit Flies
  • Caribbean Fruit Flies
  • Mediterranean Fruit Flies
  • Western Cherry Fruit Flies

More Fruit Fly Information

  • Learn How to Make a DIY Apple Cider Vinegar Trap
  • Fruit Fly Life Cycle
  • Fruit Fly Eggs
  • Fruit Fly Larvae
  • Fruit Fly Pupae
  • Fruit Fly Metamorphosis
  • Fruit Fly Reproduction Rates Data
  • Fruit Fly Food
  • Fruit Fly Genetics
  • Do Fruit Flies Bite People?
  • Biology of Fruit Flies
  • Where Do Fruit Flies Come From?
  • Fruit Fly Predators
  • Fruit Fly Eye Colors
  • Fruit Fly vs. Gnat

Fighting Fruit Fly

Jerry Coleby-Williams

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: Fruit Fly costs Australian orchardists millions of dollars every year and they’re a bane of home gardeners too. Most of the damage to fruit is done by just 2 species – the exotic Mediterranean Fruit Fly on the western side of the continent and the native Queensland Fruit Fly in the east.

Commercial growers once relied on blanket chemical spraying, but nowadays more targeted strategies are often favoured. I’m going to show you some of those strategies that work really well in home gardens with assistance from entomologist Gurion Ang, here at the Bethania Street Community Garden in eastern Brisbane.

GURION ANG: Understanding the life cycle of a fruit fly is possibly the best way you can direct your pest management strategies at home.

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: Like many insects, fruit flies have 4 life stages – egg, larvae, pupae and adult.

GURION ANG: You can see here some Queensland Fruit Fly eggs. You’re very unlikely to see these eggs at home because these eggs are laid within the fruit. The female will use her ovipositor – she uses that to puncture the fruit and occasionally the puncture sites will get infected by a bacteria and as soon as you see that, it might be a good idea to set out these traps to capture the adults.

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: So try and spot the puncture wounds, see the secondary infections around the puncture wounds and then start trapping the adults?

GURION ANG: Yeah and if you don’t see that, you might be able to spot the second stage of this insects’ life cycle. This is the larval stage and we have some maggots here that are feeding on cherry tomatoes. Again they feed inside the plant but on the odd occasion, you’ll see them jumping off the plant and that’s when you know you’ve got some maggots. You can occasionally also just slice the fruit and check if you think you’ve got an infection and if you want to get rid of these things, solarising your fruit is probably a good option.

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: So put them into a plastic bag, seal it, put it in the sun and cook them?

GURION ANG: Absolutely. Now the third stage is of course the pupal stage…these guys actually pupate in the soil, so the best way to take care of that is to let your chooks out to do the work for you.

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: And they can scratch around in the soil and control the pupae at the same time.

GURION ANG: Absolutely….and of course, the final stage of the fruit fly’s lifecycle which most people are familiar with are the adults and you can see that the boys lack that ovipositor and it’s the adult stage where some of the most effective control mechanisms can occur – like the use of these traps.

The idea behind these traps Jerry, is to lure, to trap and to kill and here I have one that’s pheromone based. It’s releasing a sex pheromone that only the male flies are attracted to. The beauty of pheromones is that they travel over long distances, so you really only need one of these in your backyard.

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: Now there are other traps more familiar to gardeners and these use a different type of bait don’t they?


JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: …and that’s in there.

GURION ANG: That’s a protein based bait and because both male and female flies require protein to sustain themselves, that attracts both the girls and the boys.

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: So with a trap like this, you’d need to have them about 2 metres apart on a fruit tree, so you’d have a lot of these in a garden?

GURION ANG: Yes…especially if you’ve got a big backyard, you’d probably need quite a few of those.

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: Now, you’d put soapy water in the bottom so they get lured in, drown and die.

GURION ANG: Yep. Some of these things also come with insecticide as well.

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: Some of the work you’ve been involved in has also indicated that while you can attract a fruit fly to the trap, it doesn’t necessarily kill them.

GURION ANG: That’s right. They don’t necessarily go in the trap, so we always recommend that in conjunction with traps, you should use other forms of control – for example exclusion, but you must remember that the ovipositor of the female can still go through this mesh and attack the fruit, so you want some distance between mesh and fruit.

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: You could also use paper bags to enclose an individual mango or an individual passionfruit.

GURION ANG: But remember to tie it up so that the fly can’t get anywhere near your fruit.

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: So there’s a lot to consider when trying to control fruit flies. You only need one pheromone trap in a backyard, but you only catch the males and this limits breeding. Protein traps attract both sexes, but you have to change the bait every week and you need lots of them. Exclusion works well, but it is quite a bit of work and it’s a little unsightly, so you’ll need to see what works best for your garden.

And I’ll be back later to show you how to make your own fruit fly traps that cost next to nothing.

Jerry Coleby-Williams

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS: Earlier on, I was explaining that fruit fly traps are one of the main ways to control fruit fly in gardens.

Commercial traps are quite expensive – they cost between twenty and thirty dollars each and then you have to replenish the bait and that can be almost as expensive.

At home, I use something very cheap indeed. I use a PET bottle and it’s got a hole – big enough for a fruit fly to get in – half way up.

Now the reason it’s not at the top is because fruit fly, if they escape drowning inside, will fly up to the top. This improves your kill. The bait I use is a solution of vegemite and water – there’s half a teaspoon of vegemite in there and there’s a drop of dishwashing detergent in and that means that any fruit fly that get wet will drown.

You have to replace this every week because sometimes it can be so successful, you’ll get so many fruit fly in there, it’ll put the others off from entering.

So apart from that little bit of servicing, screw on the top – use this to hang it from your trees and you space them 2 metres apart in your fruit trees and replace the bait once a week. How easy is that?

Better than controlling fruit fly just in your own garden is if you can get your neighbours involved at the same time. By synchronising fruit fly control, you can expand your kill. It’s really amazing how much fruit you can save by doing it and all it involves is being a good neighbour!

COSTA GEORGIADIS: Well I hope that was enough to get your sap flowing and to inspire you to get out into your patch this weekend. That’s all we have time for today, but we’ll be back with bucketloads of spring inspiration for you again next week. I’ll see you then.

Josh explores the native garden of botanist Alex George which is filled with WA’s unique flora.

Sophie meets a citrus legend who shares his advice and insights on all things citrus.

IAN TOLLEY: I’ve made up my mind – I want more terminals – here we go….bye bye. See you later!

6 Ways to Instantly Get Rid of Fruit Flies & Gnats at Home

A quick summary of getting rid of gnats and fruit flies.

  • Create a trap by mixing apple cider vinegar with a few drops of dish soap.
  • Another home-made trap is to pour leftover red wine into a jar.
  • Mash up banana slices in a jar and cover the top with a plastic wrap.
  • Pour bleach solution into the bathroom sink. Warning: do not mix bleach with ammonia.
  • Use an insect fogging product if you are dealing with a large-scale infestation.
  • Place rotten fruits into a jar to attract the gnats and fruit flies.

Most Effective Gnat & Fruit Fly Traps

Grab one of the following fruit fly traps and killers if you need an immediate solution to your fruit fly and gnat problems. They are affordable and easy-to-use.

BEAPCO Fruit Fly Trap
This fruit fly trap uses a non-toxic solution to lure gnats to their doom. Place the traps near the gnat-infested area and wait till they are filled with dead flies.

Each trap can be used for up to 30 days and can be thrown straight into the trash can. We recommend setting up multiple traps at once to maximize the coverage area of the fruit fly traps.

Disposable Gnat & Fruit Fly Attractant
This disposable and non-toxic liquid attractant will quickly trap and eliminate the fruit flies and gnats that linger in your kitchen, bathrooms, and other areas of the household that are prone to pests. All you have to do is to twist off the cap to activate this fruit fly trap.

Fruit Fly Drain Treatment
This drain treatment product is what you need if you feel like the source of the fruit flies and gnats are the drains in the kitchen and bathroom. The active ingredient of this gel is citronella, a natural bug repellent.

Home Remedies for Killing Fruit Flies and Gnats

The following infographic highlights the home remedies you can easily apply at home to get rid of gnats and fruit flies overnight.

1. Set Up a Fruit Fly Trap

The easiest and most convenient way to get rid of fruit flies and gnat is by purchasing a fruit fly trap, such as this disposable fruit fly trap. You just need to open the trap lid and place the trap next to the fly-infested area. You should see plenty of dead flies the next day.

2. Create a DIY Apple Cider Vinegar Trap

Create your own fruit fly trap with vinegar, an ingredient that most households should already have in their kitchen. You’ll need a container, apple cider vinegar, sugar, dish soap, and water.

First, mix two tablespoons of vinegar, one tablespoon of sugar, a few drops of dish soap, and half a cup of warm water into a container and mix until the sugar starts to dissolve.

Next, place the vinegar solution-filled container next to the areas where the fruit flies and gnats are frequently seen, such as the kitchen sink.

The scent of vinegar and sugar will attract the flies into the container. When the fruit flies make contact with the vinegar solution, they won’t be able to escape due to the dish soap. Make sure to place several of these traps. One gnat trap won’t be enough.

3. Drown the Flies with a Candle Trap Setup

This fruit fly trap only requires a candle. When it gets dark, place a candle on a tray or bowl filled with water then set the tray next to the fly-infested area. Next, turn off the light so that the only light source in the room is the candle (close the curtains to block outside sources of light).

This homemade trap will kill the gnats in two ways. First, any fruit flies that get close to the candle flame will get theirs wings burnt and fall to their death. Second, some flies may avoid the actual flame and instead go for the reflection in the water. They won’t be able to escape once they land in the water (adding a few squirts of dish soap will make it near-impossible).

4. Create a Trap Using Stale Wine

Have any stale wine left over that you aren’t going to drink? Put it to good use by converting it into a homemade gnat trap. It’s very similar to the apple cider vinegar trap.

First, pour some wine into a container then place the container next to the problem area. The goal of this remedy is to use the scent of the wine to attract the fruit flies into the container. The flies will immediately drown once they make contact with the liquid surface. Adding some dish soap will also help with this trap. You can also use a wine bottle as a container.

Beer and any other type of beverages that rely on fermentation will work just as well. You may have greater success with beverages that have more of a fruity aromatic scent.

5. Attract the Flies with Rotten Fruits

Fruit flies love rotten fruits due to the smell of fermentation. Place a piece of rotten fruit into a container or bowl then cover the container with a plastic wrap. Poke a few tiny holes into the plastic wrap. The gnats will fly in and get trapped inside the container.

6. Use a Sticky Fly Trap

Sticky fly traps, such as the yellow sticky trap, works really well for people who are dealing with serious fruit fly infestations. Place several of these traps around your kitchen and bathroom. There’s no way for the flies to escape once they land on the sticky surface.

These traps may also help you eliminate other common household pests like fungus gnats, pantry and clothes moths, and white flies.

What Kind of Spray will Kill Fruit Flies?

In addition to the above homemade traps, you can also use a spray to repel fruit flies. According to graduate students at UNC, fruit flies don’t have a “nose” to smell with. Instead, they rely on their antennae to detect the odor in the air.

One method of creating your own homemade fruit fly spray is to mix two cups of water and a few drops of essential oil (e.g. rosemary, peppermint, lemongrass). Mix well before you apply the spray on the fly-infested areas.

Pet owners should take extra safety precautions with essential oils. They are made of natural ingredients but some types of essential oils can be toxic to cats and dogs.

Where do Fruit Flies and Gnats Come From?

You need to know where the fruit flies and gnats are coming from in order to be able to eliminate them quickly. There are two common ways.

From Fruits and Vegetables

You aren’t going to like the sound of this but some fruit flies and gnats may come from the food we consume. These flies primarily live on plant-based materials. The adult flies will lay hundreds of eggs on unripe fruits so that the larvae can use them as their primary source of nutrition by the time the fruits start to rot.

From Outside

Some adult flies may have entered your home by flying through the windows and doors. If your house is spotlessly clean then you may want to check the outdoor surroundings to see if there’s anything that may be attracting a large swarm of fruit flies such as open garbage bags.

How to Prevent Fruit Flies and Gnats

The most effective form of pest control is prevention. Find out what caused the fruit flies to appear in the first place then eliminate the source. Here are some ways to prevent fruit flies from appearing in the future.

Clean Up Dirty Dishes

Make sure there aren’t any dirty dishes lying around in the sink. Get in the habit of cleaning the dishes as soon as you are done with your meal.

Make sure any food leftovers are discarded in a tightly-sealed trash can. The fruit flies will start to appear if you leave the food waste in the kitchen for too long.

Cover the Trash bags

Make sure the lid of the trash can is tightly sealed. Don’t attract more gnats to your home by letting the trash odor spread to the outdoor surroundings. This will cause other pests, such as ants and roaches, to also make an appearance.

Get Rid of Damp Areas

Fruit flies also thrive in damp and moist areas. Examine the kitchen and bathroom for potential pipe and faucet leaks. You should also check the indoor drains in the bathroom and reduce the dampness and humidity by using a dehumidifier.

Change Poor-quality Potted Soil

Some types of flies, such as the fungus gnat, may appear from poor-quality potted soil. Check the container plants to see if that’s where the flies are originating from. If so, replace the soil with something that’s higher-quality.

Other Common Fruit Fly & Gnat Questions

The more you know about your enemy, which in this case is the annoying gnat, the better equipped you will be in handling these pest infestations moving forward. Here are some common questions that people have around these flying household insects.

How Long Do Fruit Flies Live?

Fruit flies don’t have too long of a lifespan. Their entire life cycle from egg to adult fly can only take about a week. This is why an infestation like this has to be handled as soon as possible, because as we mentioned earlier, these flies can also reproduce very quickly.

Will Fruit Flies Go Away on Their Own?

In some ways, yes. If you follow the fruit fly prevention steps that we outline above, you will end up making your home an environment that’s not favorable for the flies to live in. Most importantly, taking out the trash regularly is an effective way for the flies to disappear on their own.

At What Temperature do Gnats Die?

Species like gnats and fruit flies don’t survive well in cold temperatures. The optimal environment temperature is somewhere between the 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit range.

Sam Choan is the Founder of Organic Lesson. He started this site to share tips on using natural remedies at home when such options are available.

How To Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Fruit Fly Indentification (Drosophila melanogaster )

  • A key identifying character of a Fruit Fly is its bright red eyes.
  • The Fruit fly is about one third the size of the filth or house fly.
  • Body color is usually a light yellow to tan color.

Fruit Fly Size (3mm)

Fruit flies are small about 1/8-inch in length including the wings.

Fruit Fly Control : Exclusion & Sanitation

  • The first step in order to get rid of Fruit Flies in the kitchen or elsewhere is to have proper sanitation. It is critical to eliminate any breeding sources.
  • Clean garbage cans and dumpsters. They should have tight lids.
  • Ripened fruit should be eaten or refrigerated.
  • Get rid of any extra moisture with proper drainage.
  • Use screens on building openings.
  • Re-grout tiles in bathrooms and kitchens; this will prevent any water leakage in the walls and possible fruit fly breeding sources.
  • As an extra step, use UltraFloor Defender, an all natural cleaner with bacteria cultures to break down grease buildup. Using UltraFloor Defender would be very beneficial in commercial kitchens.

Fruit Fly Inspection

Look first for fruit fly sources in areas where vegetables or fruits are stored outside refrigeration. Also look for fruit fly sources in garbage cans, under appliances, and recycling bins. Even a little-spilled juice behind an appliance can contribute to their breeding. When searching for fruit fly breeding sources, remember that the larva can only survive in decaying organic matter that is moist. All stages of a fruit fly infestations depend on the organic debris to complete the complete fruit fly cycle. Whenever possible, food and materials on which fruit flies can lay their eggs must be removed.

Killing adult fruit flies will reduce infestation, but elimination of fruit fly breeding areas is necessary for proper management.

Fruit Flies are not only the only small flies that you may see in your kitchen area. If you see a small type of fly or gnat type of fly, it may not be coming from the drains. So using a typical enzyme drain treatment like Invade Bio Drain Treatment may not work if they are not coming from the drains. They could be coming from various sources like rotten fruit, garbage, or other damp organic matter. Also, Fruit Fly Traps would not work for other small flies such as Drain Flies, Phorid Flies, or Sphaerocerid Flies.

Below is a list of possible breeding sources for various small flies found in kitchen areas and other breeding areas. If you understand the various breeding sources, you can manage these flies with better success.

Breeding Sources of Drain Flies, Fruit Flies, Phorid Flies and Sphaerocerid Flies

Drain flies: Drain flies can breed in sewers, drains, septic tanks and contaminated soil from sewage.

Fruit flies: You can find Fruit flies flying around fruits and vegetables, both fresh and rotten. They can also be found around any moist organic matter and garbage.

Phorid Flies : Phorid flies are also found in contaminated soils from garbage, in drains and garbage. They can be found in human cadavers.

Sphaerocerid Flies: These small flies breed in rotting fruits and vegetables, garbage, and drains.

Fruit Fly Traps

Vector 960 Fruit Fly Traps and Invite Fruit Fly Traps are professional fruit fly traps on the market. They are ready to use traps with special attractants to lure the Fruit flies into the traps and get caught. If you prefer to make fruit fly traps( using a special fruit fly lure and glue boards), use Invite Fruit Fly Lure.

Fruit Fly Control – Insecticide Aerosols

(Pyrethrin spray) can be used as a quick kill; reducing populations of flying insects. Use a pyrethrin space spray such as Stryker 54 , CB 80 Pyrethrin Aerosol, or PT 565.

You can use pyrethrins in an automatic dispenser that dispenses every 15 minutes.. Country Vet Mist Metered Fly Spray 0.97% will last thirty days in the automatic aerosol dispenser. All metered aerosols are only labeled for commercial establishments. Restaurant Fly Control will give you some more recommendations.

Gentrol Aerosol is an IGR in a convenient aerosol can. An IGR (insect growth regulator) will prevent the complete fruit fly development. This aerosol can be sprayed around possible breeding sources such as, around plants, floor mats, under applicances and into drains.

Eco-Friendly Fruit Fly Products

  • Fruit Fly Fighter-Breaks the life cycle of a fruit fly when the fruit fly digests the liquid bacteria. Use it on mop heads, around garbage cans, under sink areas, around drain covers and any other locations (non-food items) that the fruit fly would land.
  • Outbreak Defender is made from food grade materials with a peppermint fragrance. It will kill fruit flies in the air. Spraying Outbreak Defender around food is safe. Spray Outbreak Defender over a group of fruit flies to kill them on contact.

Drain Treatments – Get Rid Of Possible Sources

You may find fruit fly larvae feeding on the sides of your drains. In order to investigate this, put some clear tape over the top of a dry drain with some holes in it for air flow. If the flies get stuck on the tape, you have located a source.

Using a bleach is not effective. In order to break up organic build up and eliminate any possible breeding sources, use drain a treatment like Invade Bio Drain Gel.

Fruit Fly Control – Residual Insecticides

Cyper WSP or LamdaStar UltraCap 9.7, are residual insecticide concentrates that yield several gallons of finished solution. Spray surfaces where fruit flies would land and rest, sprayed once a month. This would also treat other types of flies. Both products have a broad label for general pest control.

If you are looking for fogging insecticides and fogger equipment we have a wide assortment.

Fruit Fly Biology and Habits

  • Fruit flies comprise several different species belonging to the genus Drosophila. The most common species encountered in homes and other structures is the D.melanogaster. Fruit flies are also identified as pomace flies or vinegar flies. These pests can be found throughout the world, in homes, food processing plants, warehouses, grocery stores, wineries, restaurants and other structures.
  • Fruit fly populations tend to be greatest in late summer and early fall as they infest fruits during the harvest season.
  • The fruit fly is among the smallest flies found in homes.
  • With the end of the summer season, many homeowners often encounter fruit flies in and about their kitchens and near garbage storage areas.
  • Fruit flies are generally found hovering around decaying vegetation and overripe fruit. The fruit fly is most often found hovering around the overly ripe fruit. Fermenting materials, such as leftover beer or soft drinks, also are a favorite food of fruit flies. Fruit flies are often found in the kitchen, especially when vegetable or fruit materials are present after major home canning efforts.
  • Pomace flies look like Fruit flies and may infest homes. However, the breeding source may be something like a forgotten mop pail or open sewer drain.
  • Because Fruit flies frequent such unsanitary areas as garbage, it could potentially carry disease-causing bacteria onto food products.
  • Like all flies, the fruit fly develops by complete metamorphosis. Eggs are laid near or on top of attractants (fermenting materials) such as beverages, decaying fruit and vegetable matter, garbage or slime in drains. The fruit fly is attracted to an area where moisture has accumulated including mops and wet rags. The larvae emerge from the eggs and feed near the surface of the fermenting material for 5-6 days.
  • This surface-feeding characteristic of the fruit fly larvae is significant in that damaged or over-ripened portions of fruits and vegetables can be cut off without having to discard the remainder for fear of retaining any developing larvae. However, eating the larvae can cause intestinal discomfort and diarrhea. For this reason, health professionals and sanitarians are concerned when fruit flies are found infesting facilities where food is prepared, processed, or served.
  • Newly-emerged fruit fly adults are attracted to lights, but egg laying females will not leave fermenting materials. The fruit fly larvae then crawl to drier areas of the food source or even out of the food source to pupate. Under ideal conditions, the life cycle of the fruit fly, from egg to adult can be completed in as little as eight days. Life cycle from egg to adult is approximately 10 days.

Fruit Flies

ENTFACT-621: Fruit Flies | Download PDF | En Español

by Michael F. Potter, Extension Entomologist
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Fruit Fly

If you have been seeing small flies or gnats in your kitchen, they’re probably fruit flies. Fruit flies can be a problem year round, but are especially common during late summer/fall because they are attracted to ripened or fermenting fruits and vegetables.

Tomatoes, melons, squash, grapes and other perishable items brought in from the garden are often the cause of an infestation developing indoors. Fruit flies are also attracted to rotting bananas, potatoes, onions and other unrefrigerated produce purchased at the grocery store. This fact sheet will explain how infestations originate and how they can be prevented in your home or place of business.

Biology and Behavior

Fruit flies are common in homes, restaurants, supermarkets and wherever else food is allowed to rot and ferment. Adults are about 1/8 inch long and usually have red eyes. The front portion of the body is tan and the rear portion is black. Fruit flies lay their eggs near the surface of fermenting foods or other moist, organic materials. Upon emerging, the tiny larvae continue to feed near the surface of the fermenting mass. This surface-feeding characteristic of the larvae is significant in that damaged or over-ripened portions of fruits and vegetables can be cut away without having to discard the remainder for fear of retaining any developing larvae. The reproductive potential of fruit flies is enormous; given the opportunity, they will lay about 500 eggs. The entire lifecycle from egg to adult can be completed in about a week.

Fruit flies are especially attracted to ripened fruits and vegetables in the kitchen. But they also will breed in drains, garbage disposals, empty bottles and cans, trash containers, mops and cleaning rags. All that is needed for development is a moist film of fermenting material. Infestations can originate from over-ripened fruits or vegetables that were previously infested and brought into the home. The adults can also fly in from outside through inadequately screened windows and doors.

Fruit flies are primarily nuisance pests. However, they also have the potential to contaminate food with bacteria and other disease-producing organisms.


The best way to avoid problems with fruit flies is to eliminate sources of attraction. Produce which has ripened should be eaten, discarded or refrigerated. Cracked or damaged portions of fruits and vegetables should be cut away and discarded in the event that eggs or larvae are present in the wounded area. A single rotting potato or onion forgotten at the back of a closet, or fruit juice spillage under a refrigerator can breed thousands of fruit flies. So can a recycling bin stored in the basement which is never emptied or cleaned.

People who can their own fruits and vegetables, or make wine, cider or beer should ensure that the containers are well sealed; otherwise, fruit flies will lay their eggs under the lid and the tiny larvae will enter the container upon hatching. Windows and doors should be equipped with tight-fitting (16 mesh) screens to help prevent adult fruit flies from entering from outdoors.


Once a structure is infested with fruit flies, all potential breeding areas must be located and eliminated. Unless the breeding sites are removed or cleaned, the problem will continue no matter how often insecticides are applied to control the adults. Finding the source(s) of attraction and breeding can be very challenging and often will require much thought and persistence. Potential breeding sites which are inaccessible (e.g., garbage disposals and drains) can be inspected by taping a clear plastic food storage bag over the opening overnight. If flies are breeding in these areas, the adults will emerge and be caught in the bag.

After the source of attraction and breeding is eliminated, a pyrethrum-based, aerosol insecticide may be used to kill any remaining adult flies in the area.

Fruit Fly Trap

A better approach, however, is to construct a trap by placing a paper funnel (rolled from a sheet of notebook paper) into a jar which is then baited with a few ounces of cider vinegar. Place the jar trap(s) wherever fruit flies are seen. This simple but effective trap will soon catch any remaining adult flies which can then be killed or released outdoors.

Revised: 1/94

CAUTION! Pesticide recommendations in this publication are registered for use in Kentucky, USA ONLY! The use of some products may not be legal in your state or country. Please check with your local county agent or regulatory official before using any pesticide mentioned in this publication.


Images: University of Kentucky Entomology

How To: Get Rid of Flies Outside

Photo: istockphoto.com

Landing on the food at your backyard barbecue. Buzzing around your face as you do yard work. Zipping through your front door as soon as you open it. They are Musca domestica, the common housefly.

While there are thousands of species of flies, Musca domestica is the variety most likely to bug you both inside and outside of your home, found as they are on every continent inhabited by humans, in climates from the arctic cold to the tropical heat.

In North America, houseflies tend to be active from spring through fall, generally reaching peak activity during the summer. Beyond being a nuisance, flies carry a wide variety of germs (such as the bacteria that cause anthrax, typhoid, stomach ulcers, cholera, dysentery, and tuberculosis, as well as less serious illnesses), which they deposit wherever they land—including that hamburger you’re about to bite into.

Worrying about flies also means worrying about maggots, the larval form of the fly. A female housefly generally lays more than 100 eggs after mating, and the eggs hatch astonishingly quickly. Maggots spawn in less than eight hours if the weather is warm enough.

Fortunately, you can get rid of the flies that plague your property, and you can do so without using poisons that could put your pets and family at risk.

Follow these steps to banish this summertime scourge so you can enjoy the season (largely) fly free.

Photo: istockphoto.com

6 Ways to Get Rid of Flies Outside

To drive flies out of your yard:

  1. Plug in a fan. These uninvited insects can’t fly well in strong breezes, so set up an oscillating fan on an extension cord near your backyard grill, picnic table, or any other area where you congregate outside. When flies feel the gust, they’ll head in the opposite direction.
  2. Make a flytrap. Dissolve ¼ cup of sugar in one cup of water in a jar. Roll a stiff piece of paper into a cone long enough to reach from the top of the jar to just above the level of the liquid, and snip off the tip. Tape the cone inside the jar with the wide end filling the jar’s mouth and the cone’s tip right above the sugar water. This paper cone will funnel curious houseflies right into the jar, making removal a cinch.
  3. Light a candle. Citronella, a highly aromatic oil distilled from several varieties of lemongrass, repels both flies and mosquitoes. Light a few of these fragrant candles and set them on your picnic table, porch, or grill area; the strong scent serves as a “not welcome” sign to winged nuisances.
  4. Swat them. It’s immediate, effective, and strangely satisfying to swat flies dead. If you’re squeamish about doing the deed with a traditional flyswatter, try an electric one. These devices (most resemble small tennis rackets) electrocute flying bugs with a loud zap.
  5. Say vamoose with vodka. Flies hate the smell of this liquor, so fill a few small plastic sandwich bags halfway with the cheap stuff, zip the bags most of the way shut, and then use twine or string and some heavy-duty clothespins to hang the bags around your yard. Sounds crazy, but it really can help.
  6. DIY some fly strips. Instead of buying commercial scented fly strips to deter the pests, make your own with the essential oils that flies hate. Simply cut a piece of cloth into strips 12 inches long and one inch wide. Moisten each strip with several drops of any of the following: clove, lavender, lemongrass, citronella, eucalyptus, rosemary or mint. Tie the strips on branches and the railings around your patio, and let the scent of the oil get rid of the flies outside.

Photo: istockphoto.com

6 Ways to Prevent Flies from Returning

Once you’ve given pests the heave-ho, discourage their re-entry of flies and maggots with these smart strategies:

  1. Keep it clean. Flies love open garbage pails, uncovered compost bins, and dog droppings. So tidy up after outdoor parties and keep a tight lid on trash cans and compost. If the family pooch does his business in the yard, clean up after him immediately.
  2. Let spiders have at ‘em. Unless spider webs stretch across an area you’ll walk through or reach into, leave them be. Hungry arachnids will devour any flies they can snare.
  3. Plant fly-repelling herbs. Surround your patio or barbecue with the potted herbs that flies hate. That includes basil, lavender, and mint.
  4. Watch out for water. Don’t let pools of water sit stagnant around your yard. Flies need to drink water and so are drawn to puddles, birdbaths, and soggy patches caused by dripping sprinklers.
  5. Clean fruit birdfeeders. It’s fun to watch backyard birds feeding on fruit, but flies are bound to be unwelcome guests at the party. Toss the rinds as soon as your feathered friends finish their feast.
  6. Mow regularly. Flies often lay eggs in long grass, which offers them moisture and protection. Mow your lawn weekly during the peak summer season to stave off an infestation.

How to get rid of gnats in the garden as the bugs arrive for the summer season

As summer time arrives, lots of wonderful things are made possible.

Barbecues, for example, and trips to the beach. Not to mention bottles of chilled rosé and a new series of Love Island.

But tiny gnats come too. They’re the most common fly found in the home and come in search of fruit juice and alcohol (who doesn’t?).

Importantly, the pesky little creatures put a dampener on things if they’re not kept under control. They breed quickly.

What good is a picnic if it’s got flies all over it? How healthy can a fruit bowl be if it’s all covered in the pests?

Gnats thrive in warm conditions and there are certain things they like. There are numerous varieties and all differ slightly. Some feed on fungus, others live in the sand. All bite.

Better outside (Image: Getty)

Science aside, to us, a gnat is a gnat – a small fly and a suborder of the Nematocera species, which also includes the similarly displeasing midge (found in highlands and lowlands), and mosquitoes, which no doubt you know all about.

Anyway, ultimately, we don’t want gnats invading our homes. They have a place in nature (they feed birds and bats and large insects), but they don’t have a place in your kitchen.

So you know what you’re dealing with, here’s how to properly identify a gnat, according to pest company Terro :

  • Colours: The two most common fruit flies, the Red Eyed Fruit Fly and the Dark-Eyed Fruit Fly, have striped abdomens. Their eye colors are, as the name suggests, red or black, respectively
  • Size: Red Eyed Fruit Flies are about ⅛-inch long. Dark Eyed Fruit Flies are a bit bigger, at about 3⁄16-inch long
  • Body type: Similar to a house fly, but much smaller
  • Where: Fruit flies may be buzzing around your fruit bowl, inside a trash receptacle, in a recycling bin or in your drain or garbage disposal

What are gnats attracted to?

Gnat heaven (Image: Photographer’s Choice)

  • Poor quality soil around house plants.
  • Damp areas in the home, such as sinks and soggy clothes
  • Open rubbish piles, bin bags and other mess
  • Dirty dishes
  • Any food source, but particularly fruit, alcohol, and anything left out for a prolonged period, so has intensified

Preventing gnats from ruining summer

Organic Lesson has some handy tips to stop fruit flies coming along and spoiling the party…

1. Clean up your dirty dishes – gnats love to buzz about eating leftovers. It’s arduous, but getting into the habit of washing up straight away will help.

2. Rubbish in the bin – ensure bins are covered and, where possible, waste is disposed of quickly. You need to keep the odour contained.

3. Damp areas – gnats love pools of stagnant water but love anything damp. Fix leaking pipes and avoid leaving watering cans full.

4. Change your soil – if you have indoor plants and flowers, think abut changing the pot soil to a higher-quality variety. This is less likely to contain other pests and mites.

Ways to get rid of gnats…

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Here’s a quick summary of home remedies:

  • Create a trap by mixing apple cider vinegar with a few drops of dish soap
  • Another home-made trap is to pour leftover red wine into a jar
  • Mash up banana slices in a jar and cover the top with a plastic wrap
  • Pour bleach solution into the bathroom sink. Warning: do not mix bleach with ammonia
  • Use an insect fogging product if you are dealing with a large-scale infestation
  • Place rotten fruits into a jar to attract the gnats and fruit flies

None of these methods guarantee success, but are worth trying.


You need apple cider vinegar, sugar, dish soap, water, and a container.

n the container, mix two tablespoons of vinegar, one tablespoon of sugar, a few drops of soap, and one liter of water.

The insects are attracted by the smell and sweetness, jump in, then die because of the soap.


If the flies are buzzing around the drain, pour bleach down it. Chances are they’re breeding in the pipe.

Please note: don’t pour the bleach as is, but dilute it. It may be that bleach doesn’t reach the furthest clutches of nests, but it’s a start. Just in case you read something else, don’t ever mix bleach with ammonia (deadly combination).

Red wine

This is much like the vinegar trap. All you’re doing is enticing the bugs with booze. Like Wetherspoons and humans.

Just pour some cheap wine (don’t waste the 2012 Oregon Pinot Noir your dad bought you for your birthday) and wrap the top with clingfilm and punch a few holes in it.

Rotten fruit

The oldest trick in the book. Put some old fruit in a container, cover with plastic wrap, and pierce with holes big enough for the gnats to get in.

Wait… and you should have a box full of mouldy apples and dirty flies.

Or, special products:

Gnats can carry diseases

Of course, the easiest and most convenient of way of getting rid of gnats is by purchasing a reputable gnat trap, as Organic Lesson explains.

You can buy pest traps online. Fogging mists are also worth trying. There are lots of retailers and your best bet is googling.

Notable products include non-toxic fly lures, gnat formulas, which you pour into water-based fly traps, and light-based killers, which attract the flies to bright artificial light.

And you’ve probably all seen the buzzing electric lights used in kitchens.

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