6 Ways to Repel Fruit Flies, According to a Sustainable Exterminator

We went straight to a pro for eco-safe tips on keeping these pests at bay.

Ask anyone who has ever dealt with fruit flies in their home and they'll tell you the same: They're as annoying as they are difficult to get rid of. That's why it helps to figure out what's attracting them in the first place. "Fruit flies do not have teeth, so they rely on liquid to survive," says Timothy Wong, technical director at MMPC, an "environmentally sensitive" pest control company. "With their antennae, fruit flies can smell the scent of ripened fruits, vegetables, alcohol, and sugary drinks from miles away. While sweet scents are the most obvious attractants, there are other non-food items that attract them, too, especially wet cleaning supplies. They can also squeeze through window and door screens."

Woman holding plate with fruit
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What's worse, once they're inside, they tend to multiply. "Fruit flies can lay up to 2,000 eggs at a time, primarily in fomenting fruit or other decaying produce," Wong says. "The average life cycle (egg to adult) of a fruit fly is incredibly short, allowing newly hatched flies to reproduce in as few as eight days in warm environments of 86 degrees Fahrenheit and above." Fortunately, Wong says there are several ways to rid your place of fruit flies for good—and they are eco-friendly, too. From DIY traps to homemade sprays, here's how to exterminate these pests.

Fix Your Window Screens

Fruit flies are tiny, which makes it easy for them to enter your home through even the smallest openings—particularly those around your windows. "One of the first things people can do to prevent fruit fly outbreaks is to have functioning window screens," Wong says. "[People] should also seal any gaps around their windows, especially ones around air conditioners."

Don't Store Fruits and Vegetables on Your Countertops

Like moths to a flame, fruit flies are attracted to, well, fruit. That's why it should come as no surprise that Wong advises against keeping your produce out on the counter. "Since eggs can be found in ripening fruits bought from stores, we suggest storing all fruit and vegetables inside refrigerators," he says. "Fruits and vegetables that are stored on countertops should be washed well and covered."

Deep Clean Your Kitchen, Drain, and Trash Cans

Once fruit flies have infiltrated your living space, Wong recommends deep cleaning your kitchen to remove all conditions conducive for them to thrive. "Clean your kitchen, drain, and garbage disposal with boiling water," he says. "It is also important to keep garbage disposals and sinks clean and empty trash cans often, especially if they contain food items or empty alcohol bottles."

Make an Apple Cider Vinegar Trap

Since fruit flies can't resist the smell of vinegar, Wong suggests making a homemade trap to help reduce your population. "Pour a little apple cider vinegar into a glass and cover the opening with plastic wrap and a rubber band," he says. "Poke small holes into the plastic cover for the fruit flies to enter—they won't be able to exit once they're inside the glass."

Try a DIY Dish Soap Trap

No plastic wrap on hand? No problem. Wong says you can make a similar homemade fruit fly trap with vinegar and dish soap instead. "Add a few drops of dish soap to a bowl of vinegar and leave it uncovered on your countertop," Wong says. "The soap cuts the surface tension of the vinegar so the flies sink and drown."

Make Your Own Alcohol Spray

As tempting as it may be to buy over-the-counter pesticides, Wong recommends a safer alternative. "Instead of dangerous and toxic pesticide spray, use 91% isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle," he says. "It is effective at killing the flies on contact and less harmful than conventional pesticide."

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