Fruit Flies

Fruit Flies

fruit fly
Adult Fruit Fly Photo. Pest and Diseases Image Library, Bugwood.org

Despite their diminutive size vinegar flies, more commonly known as fruit flies, can be a giant frustration in our lives. Fruit flies are commonly found in homes, restaurants, grocery stores, and even offices. As their name implies, these tiny insects are especially attracted to fruits but also like old vegetables, beer, sodas, and other fermenting items. 

We end up with fruit flies by bringing in produce from the garden or store that has eggs laid on it. Adults may also fly through windows or doors and become your new roommate. Fruit flies are differentiated from other flies thanks to their small size (about 1/8th of an inch), their brown color, and their red eyes.

Fruit Fly Control
If you want to get a handle on a fruit fly infestation you need to focus on minimizing breeding grounds. Females can detect over ripened fruit or other fermenting items with their antennae and they will fly in from great distances to lay their eggs there. Your first step will be to find any over-ripened fruit or vegetables and bag them up in a plastic bag. Throw these items out into the trash bin in the garage or outside. A sealable trash can with a lid that fits tightly and stays closed when not in use will help to minimize fruit fly occurrences. With these steps you have prevented new flies from being attracted to your home. 

However, some adults are probably still there flying around. To eliminate these stragglers you can construct a simple and cheap trap to catch them. Take an empty container (a baby food jar, a yogurt cup, a pop bottle, etc.) and remove the lid. Fill the container up about 1/4th of the way with apple cider vinegar. This particular kind of vinegar smells just like home to the fruit flies. You will want to add a drop of dish soap to break the surface tension of the vinegar. This is so the flies sink when they land on it. Cover the top of the container with a layer of plastic wrap and poke holes with a toothpick or fork. Now they enter but they never leave! 

Once you take these measures the fly population will begin to diminish but complete elimination can take up to 2 weeks.

fruit fly trap
Fruit fly trap with apple cider vinegar. Notice all of the dead fruit flies! Photo from rurification.blogspot.com
Image of Jonathan Larson
Jonathan Larson
Extension Educator - Entomology

Jonathan Larson is the Nebraska Extension entomologist for Douglas and Sarpy counties. His main focus is lawn and landscape pests but he also helps with bed bugs, roaches, and any other home invader that has six or more legs. Jonathan has his Bachelor of Science in Entomology from Purdue University, and his Ph.D. in Entomology from the University of Kentucky.

Contact Jonathan at:
Douglas/Sarpy County Extension
8015 W Center Rd.
Omaha, NE 68124-3175
(402) 444-7804