Last update: 2 months ago
Summer brings us great benefits, such as longer and warmer days, vacations, and barbeques. However, all of this comes at a cost as swarms of disgusting fruit flies and gnats descend upon our homes with all of their annoying wrath.
If you want to truly enjoy the summer season, it is not practical to lock yourself away indoors in order to avoid the flying nuisances and their irritating buzzing as they always seem to find a way in. So, what can be done? Are you destined to spend your summer swatting at the small flies in your house? Don’t worry – we’re here to tell you how to get rid of fruit flies and gnats once and for all.
Here is a quick summary of the most effective methods of getting rid of small flies in your house to get you started.
HOW TO GET RID OF FRUIT FLIES:
- Buy a fly/gnat trap. The easiest method is to buy a trap designed for flying insects. They come in many shapes and sizes – from hanging fly paper to sticks you place in the soil near your plants. They are highly effective at killing fruit flies and relatively inexpensive.
- The vinegar trap. This method is possibly the most well known due to its simplicity and effectiveness. All you need is a container, water, vinegar, dish soap and sugar, Flies are attracted by the vinegar and sugar but will become trapped by the dish soap.
- Pouring bleach in your sink. If you have noticed flies and gnats emerging from a particular sink drain, pouring bleach down the drain can help you kill any fly larvae lurking within.
- Red wine. Just like with the vinegar trap, all you need is a container, red wine, dish soap and some cling-film with holes poked in it. The flies are attracted to the red wine, but can’t leave the container due to the dish soap and cling-film.
- Fogging machines. These machines emit a fog of insecticide and as such are most useful when dealing with a large infestation or when covering a large area.
- Rotten fruit. Similar to the red wine and vinegar traps, placing rotten fruit in a container and covering it with cling film (with holes poked in it) attracts and traps flies.
Want to know how to make the traps and learn more about what are fruit flies? Read below.
What types of fruit flies are there
You would be forgiven for thinking that all gnats are the same. It is incredibly difficult to differentiate the different types of gnats with the naked eye due to their tininess. The best indicator is to find out where they are coming from as different gnats prefer different breeding grounds. The two most common types of gnats you will encounter are the houseplant gnat and the drain gnat.
Houseplant gnats, as their name suggests, breed in the soil of houseplants. This usually happens when the soil is of low quality, meaning that the soil is much more likely to have been already contaminated with eggs or larvae.
The other common type of gnat you can find at home is the drain gnat. These gnats stay true to their name and can be found hovering or crawling around the drain in your kitchen or bathroom sink as the dark, damp conditions are their ideal breeding ground.
Both types of gnats only live for around 7-8 days, but they can breed very quickly. Thus, it is best to take care of them as soon as you find them to stop the infestation of annoying, tiny flies before it has the chance to start.
Fruit flies are easier to spot than gnats as they are larger (4-5mm) and have strikingly bright red eyes. They are most commonly found in fruit, vegetables, and garbage, but their favourite stomping grounds are around ripe or decaying fruits and vegetables. With a lifespan of 1-2 weeks, they are a major annoyance and eating something contaminated with their larvae can lead to mild stomach and digestive issues.
Both types of gnats, as well as fruit flies, seek out breeding grounds which are damp and provide a source of food for their larvae. Hotspots of activity include bins, behind or underneath appliances, drains, potted plants, and uncovered fruit.
Now that you know what to look for and where it is time to find out how to get rid of them. There are many options available to you – from commercial products to home remedies. Here, we will explain a few of the more effective methods we have found.
Fruit Fly Traps
The vinegar fruit fly trap
This homemade trap has been thoroughly tried and tested. There is a reason why this is one of the most well-known ways of getting rid of midges, gnats, and fruit flies in the house. It is simple and effective:
- Pour some vinegar into a container.
- Mix in a little water.
- Add a few drops of dish soap.
- Place the uncovered container in areas where the flying pests like to congregate.
Fruit flies and gnats are attracted to the vinegar and will fly into the container. The dish soap will reduce the surface tension of the water so that the flies and gnats can sink to the bottom and drown.
Drain fruit fly trap
When you notice signs of drain flies, it is best to take action as quickly as possible as they can breed at an alarming rate:
- Pour bleach, ammonia, or drain cleaner down every drain in your home.
- Remember to use bleach OR ammonia OR a drain cleaner. Using a mixture or all at once can result in toxic fumes.
Regardless of what you choose to use, the aim is to kill or remove any larvae and eggs hidden in the drain. Monitor the affected drain over the next few days and repeat the process, if necessary.
Red wine fruit fly trap
If you happen to have some leftover red wine, instead of drinking it or throwing it away you can use it to attract and kill fruit flies, as well as gnats.
- Pour the wine into a container.
- Place the uncovered container in an area that is frequented by flies and gnats.
- If they are not dying, you can add a few drops of dish soap so that they sink to the bottom of the container.
The wine you use does not have to be expensive. Flies and gnats are not wine connoisseurs so they won’t care whether it is a supermarket’s own brand or a well-aged, rare wine.
Rotten fruit trap
This type of trap is most effective against fruit flies, but gnats will be attracted and trapped as well:
- Place a piece of rotting fruit in a container.
- Cover with cling-film and poke holes in the cover.
- Place it in the areas where you have spotted fruit flies.
Flies and gnats can’t resist the allure of rotting fruit. They will crawl through the holes in the clingfilm and become trapped inside.
Paper cone trap
This method is an upgraded version of the rotten fruit trap. Instead of a cling-film cover, you will use a paper cone:
- Place a piece of fruit and some vinegar in a jar.
- Roll a piece of paper into a cone shape and place it in the jar.
- The narrow end of the cone should be inside the jar.
With the fruit and vinegar working together, the trap is guaranteed to attract unwanted flying pests. When these crawl down the cone to get to the bait, they won’t be able to get back out.
Sweet and spicy trap
This odd method was taken from an old edition of the Farmer’s Almanac and is surprisingly effective at trapping and killing flies, as well as gnats.
- To make this trap, you will need 1 litre of milk, 100-115 grams of brown sugar, and 50 grammes of ground black pepper.
- Combine the ingredients in a pan and allow it to simmer for 10 minutes.
- When it is ready, simply pour the concoction into a container or a shallow dish.
Flies and gnats will find the mixture hard to resist and will drown shortly after making contact.
Bowl fruit fly traps
This is the larger version of the rotten fruit and paper cone traps. It works in the same way by attracting flies and then not allowing them to leave:
- Get a medium to large bowl.
- Fill the bottom with around 1 inch (2.5cm) of sweet bait. You can use a mixture of skinless fruits and vinegar or white wine, vinegar, and coriander seeds.
- Cover the bowl with cling-film as tightly as possible and make a few small holes.
- Leave the bowl where the flies and gnats are likely to find it, for instance near sinks or on a kitchen worktop overnight.
- Check and empty the trap outside. Don’t forget to wash the bowl with hot, soapy water afterwards.
Buy fruit fly traps
There are many types of fly traps available in garden centres and home improvement stores. These range from simple hanging fly paper to light traps. Although this option is more expensive than making your own trap, you will have the peace of mind that the insecticides in these traps will definitely attract and kill a wide range of flying pests.
If you are facing a large swarm of flies and gnats or would like to get rid of flies and gnats in your garden you may also consider buying or renting a fogger. These machines spray a fog-like mist of insecticide over a wide area and cover surfaces in a thin layer of insecticide. Pests, caught in the mist, will either be killed shortly after contact or they will die later when they land on an insecticide-covered surface.
How to prevent fruit flies in the future
Trapping and killing adult fruit flies and gnats is a good start, but if you stop at this point they will soon return. Next, we will look at ways to remove the eggs and prevent the pests from returning.
As we mentioned before, fruit flies and gnats breed in places that provide a food source and moisture. So, maintaining a clean home is vital in preventing their appearance. A few areas to pay particular attention to are:
- Be sure to regularly wash the bowl you keep fruit in and get rid of ageing fruit;
- Regularly wash the inside of the bins with warm, soapy water;.
- Try to dispose of fruit and vegetable waste by placing it directly onto a compost heap or into an outdoor recycling bin. Avoid throwing food waste in the kitchen bin as this will attract flies and gnats.
- Clean behind and underneath appliances at least once a month. Spilt juice under a fridge is enough to keep a breeding fly happy.
- Clean your drains every 2 weeks or on a monthly basis with bleach, ammonia, or a drain-cleaning product.
- Don’t leave sponges, cloths, and mops damp. Dry them out as much as possible when you have finished using them. Throw away any old sponges, cloths, and mop heads.
- Store fresh produce carefully. If you have a fruit fly or gnat problem, don’t leave fresh fruit uncovered at room temperature. Either cover the fruit or keep it in the fridge.
Once you have taken care of the adult flies and gnats, as well as their eggs, you can start taking steps to prevent them from coming back. We recommend the following:
- Inspect all fruit and fresh produce you bring into your home. Carefully look over all of the fruit and dispose of any that have broken skin. After this, thoroughly wash every piece of fruit as there may be eggs on the surface, dry the fruit and store under a cover or in the fridge.
- Keep at least one trap in your kitchen during the summer months. A small vinegar trap is perfect for this. Check it regularly and replace it as necessary.
- Install window and door screens. This is possibly the best way of keeping flying insects outside where they belong. For added effectiveness, spray the screens and frames with watered down citrus to further deter pests.
- Essential oils, such as lemongrass, peppermint, and eucalyptus act as great fly deterrents. Mix a few drops of your preferred essential oil with water and place it in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture around areas flies and gnats like such as drains, sinks, and bins. Keep in mind that this mixture won’t kill the flies and gnats, but it will help keep them away.
- If you have fruit bearing trees or bushes in your garden, try to pick the fruit as soon as it is ready. Letting fruit rot on the branch or ground will attract a lot of flies and gnats. You may also consider buying traps designed to hang from the branches of fruit trees to help keep the fly population down.
So there we have it, your complete guide to getting rid of fruit flies and gnats at home. Basically, keep your drains and bins clean during the summer months and keep an eye on your fruit. With this guide, you can look forward to a fly-free summer!
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