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-   -   Ways to get rid of fruit flies (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=283536)

Melandry 10-28-2004 08:40 PM

Ways to get rid of fruit flies
 
My apartment is full of fruit flies! After doing some googling, I have determined that they are hatching down the kitchen sink drain (thus there seems to be a neverending supply of them). The googling also came up with a bunch of websites trying to sell me Drain Gel (formerly known as Fly Gel; creative names, eh?). This is apparently some sort of super-Drano which will clear the gunk in the pipes which the flies are using as their food source and laying eggs in. They also sell fruit fly sticky traps but these will not eliminate the source of the problem.

I am reluctant to buy these products online but have not had much luck finding them (or any fruit fly control product) in stores around here (I plan to try Walmart and Home Depot-type places this weekend while I am visiting Mom and Dad in Suburbia). So I have a couple of questions: does anyone know what my best bet is for finding these products not online? And, has anyone had success with other methods of eliminating drain flies? For instance, should regular Drano (I noticed at the grocery store they had a special 'kitchen sink' type) also be effective? All these websites claim bleach poured down the drain does not work. Swatting at the bloody things by hand is extremely inefficient, and I although my apartment is actually very clean, the infestation is starting to make me feel like I live in a pit.

GorillaMan 10-28-2004 08:43 PM

I had this last summer. They're not fruit flies. (If they were, they'd be on the fruit, not the drains.) They're other bastards, who are laying eggs in your mucky drain system.


Quite simple, tip a load of bleach down every entry to the drain system is question, and plug every possible hole to ensure no escape. And repeat if necessary.



(Environmentally-friendly solution to follow..........)

Walloon 10-28-2004 08:52 PM

I'll second that: pour chlorine bleach down the drain. No need to buy fancy stuff. Also, take out the garbage, and wash out any dirty garbage containers with bleach.

Melandry 10-28-2004 08:59 PM

Trust me, they are fruit flies, they have the red eyes and all. This page has the distinctions between fruit flies and phorid flies. The same site also confirms that fruit flies will breed in drains. Finally, even if they are phorid flies or another drain fly and not fruit flies, the methods for eliminating any drain fly are the same.

GorillaMan 10-28-2004 09:33 PM

If they're fruit flies, throw out the fruit. If that doesn't work, they're not fruit flies. And if there's no fruit to start with, they'renot fruit flies. (The name has an origin, you know....)

t-keela 10-28-2004 09:40 PM

straight bleach will kill 'em

Everybody is always talking about drano for this or how do I clean the pipes.
Y'all do know that simply replacing the trap under the sink is the easiest damned thing to do. It is a hell of a lot easier than trying to clean all that shit outta the drain. A new trap is only a few dollars and can be changed with just a couple of wrenches. Actually a pair of channel lock pliers should do for most sinks.

it's just a thought maybe nobody'd had

Melandry 10-28-2004 09:52 PM

GorillaMan, read my previous cite. Or this one, which comes from a university and everything, and which says:
Quote:

However, fruit need not be present to have fruit flies, as they can originate from other sources.
These flies have red eyes, the distinctive characteristic of the fruit fly. They probably first entered the apartment on some fruit, yes. But there is no fruit now and they are still here, because as my cite in this post notes:
Quote:

Fruit flies can reproduce anywhere there is fermenting organic matter that stays consistently wet or moist. ... The most likely of such sites in the home is a slow-moving or seldom-used sink, bathtub, shower, or floor drain in which a layer of slime (gelatinous film) has built up above the water line. Other moist accumulations of fermenting organic matter are possible and should be considered. These include wet areas under dripping pipes and refrigeration equipment, garbage containers, and discarded bottles and cans.

Melandry 10-28-2004 09:58 PM

t-keela, even if it is simple, I doubt my landlord would take kindly to my replacing the sink trap. And there's no use in asking him to do it, he'd probably tell me the maintenance guy could be here in a couple of months (he has more important things to do, doncha know?). It is probably a good idea for a non-renter, though.

I will try the bleach technique as soon as I get a chance to buy some bleach. In the meantime I am also trying a bacterial drain treatment as recommended in my cite just above. I note that they too say there is no benefit to trying bleach, and they're not trying to sell me the fancy drain treatment. Oh well, can't hurt, can it?

Squink 10-28-2004 10:13 PM

In the 'homemaking' section of old cookbooks, they mention that sink sanitation is improved by a weekly flushing of the drain with 4 quarts of boilng water. I had drain-flies once. The boiling water killed them, and they didn't come back.

Mithril 10-28-2004 10:35 PM

I got this from the SDMB a few weeks ago and it works pretty well. Partially fill a jar with fruit juice and squirt in some dish soap. The flies are attracted to the juice and the soap prevents them from getting out. In combination with swatting the flies, this helped me eliminate my problem.

Do a search on 'fruit flies'. There are a bunch of threads on them.

t-keela 10-29-2004 12:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Squink
In the 'homemaking' section of old cookbooks, they mention that sink sanitation is improved by a weekly flushing of the drain with 4 quarts of boilng water. I had drain-flies once. The boiling water killed them, and they didn't come back.

You got that right. A regular scalding of the old pipes will help "melt" any grease built up inside the drain. I always pour the water off my spaghetti or boiled eggs etc...right down the sinks followed up with some hot soapy water and since I wipe down my counters with a bleach solution that helps too.

Seriously though for y'all who want to know (that don't already). The trap under the kitchen sink is simply the double U shaped pipe under the sink that holds water. The water keeps the odor from coming up through the drain and yet allows water and food particles to pass. There are two large nuts that hold the trap on. They are usually not very tight and a simple pair of channel lock pliers should easily loosen the nuts and the trap just slips right off. Nothing hard about it. No tricks or special skills involved. A PVC or plastic trap will cost you two or three bucks. A metal one maybe five or six bucks. Just get one like whatever comes off. It shouldn't take but a few minutes to do. I can and have done (hundreds of them) in less than five minutes...easily.
There another piece of drain pipe that runs from the sink to the trap but it's a short straight section that rarely needs replacing and is easily cleaned so I wouldn't bother unless you just feel inclined to do so. It's easier than changing the trap and is obvious what to do when you look at it. There's just one large nut that holds it on and the pliers will do the job. The next time you get a clogged drain and can't get it clean...you can call the plumber and he'll do it for probably 50 bucks. Or you can do it yourself for practically nothing and just a few minutes of your time.

moriah 10-29-2004 01:16 PM

Another trap for the flies: an open bottle of wine with just about an inch at the bottom. They'll go in, they won't get out.

Peace.

t-keela 10-29-2004 02:02 PM

It's just a thought, try keeping a little soapy/bleach water in the sink. I like this because I like to wipe up and clean the kitchen throughout the day. I hate dirty dishes in the sink or even clean ones for that matter. But if you'll at least keep the stopper in the drain it might help and you can get for about $2-3 a drain strainer that has a real fine mesh for catching food particles and stuff. It should keep the flies in/out.

GingerOfTheNorth 10-29-2004 04:43 PM

DaveW0071, our resident killer-for-hire, told me that these little buggers are drain flies, when I had an infestation about a month ago. A foaming drain cleaner (Draino in our case) and they went away and haven't returned.

ltfire 10-29-2004 07:05 PM

You could put some show tunes on a portable CD player, and take it outside. They will follow the music.

edwino 10-29-2004 08:29 PM

I would refrigerate any fruit, and any open vinegar, malt products, bread, or anything with yeast or vinegar in it.

Here's what we do in the lab.

We take a bottle and cover the bottom with vinegar. If vinegar is not working, try pieces of fruit with some yeast and a few squirts of vinegar. Or if you have a bit of fruit juice in the bottom of a bottle, this is great -- add some yeast to it. The flies love the yeast and the vinegar. We then make a cone out of index cards of card stock that fits in the neck of the bottle (make sure there are no gaps on the side). The tip of the cone should open not much more than one fruit fly big and points down into the bottle. The flies get in but are too dumb to climb back out the funnel; if they do, your hole is too big.

Here's the experts on the matter:
http://flystocks.bio.indiana.edu/getting-rid.htm

CrankyAsAnOldMan 10-30-2004 08:06 AM

Well, since you seem to be collecting a variety of ideas.... pouring ammonia down the drain got rid of the drain flies in our bathroom. The small gags me; musta had the same effect on the little biggers in the drain.

spingears 10-30-2004 01:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Melandry
My apartment is full of fruit flies! After doing some googling, I have determined that they are hatching down the kitchen sink drain (thus there seems to be a neverending supply of them).

Let me make a wild guess. You dispose of cooking grease in the sink drain?
Doing so coats the sides of the trap with a build up of grease and other food waste that drain flies love. Eliminate the source and voila, no more fles.
1. Flush the drain with a pot of really hot to near boiling water to melt and wash down the grease.
2. Stuff the trap with a loose wad of toilet paper or cleansing tissues and fill the drain to the top with liquid caustic "Drain-O" or similar product to saponify all remaining grease. Drain may open spontaneously or if not apply plunger with plain warm water in sink. BE CAREFULL the caustic is hard on the eyes.
3. Be sure all other drains in house have an adequate water seal.
4. Put all grease in garbage or closed top collection can and then to garbage.

Melandry 10-30-2004 05:48 PM

[QUOTE=spingears]Let me make a wild guess. You dispose of cooking grease in the sink drain?[QUOTE]No, actually, I don't, but I am not very diligent about making sure that food chunks/particles (from dirty dishes) don't go down the drain (no garbage disposal)- I suspect that's it.

I am visiting my parents this weekend and have left some vinegar traps out while I'm gone. When I get back I will try boiling water and plain old Drano to try and clean out the drain. spingears, what does the toilet paper do to help the Drano work better? Just curious.

Thanks for all the tips.

Otto 10-30-2004 05:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ltfire
You could put some show tunes on a portable CD player, and take it outside. They will follow the music.

Wow, that's so clever! Playing on "fruit" being a derogatory slang term for "homosexual" and tying it in with the "all gay men love show tunes" stereotype to give it that extra level of offensive power!

Truly, you are a master among humorists. And not in any way a complete jerk.

t-keela 10-30-2004 06:05 PM

Well, we almost ignored it. :(

spingears 10-30-2004 08:39 PM

[QUOTE=Melandry]
Quote:

Originally Posted by spingears
I am visiting my parents this weekend and have left some vinegar traps out while I'm gone. When I get back I will try boiling water and plain old Drano to try and clean out the drain. spingears, what does the toilet paper do to help the Drano work better? Just curious.Thanks for all the tips.

The idea is to hold the drano in place for a short time till it can do its work.
Overall idea is to deprive the little varmits of a bed and breakffast.
Best wishes for a varmit fee abode.

moriah 10-31-2004 12:55 PM

Eesh. Talk about overkill.

Remember... bleach, acids (like vinegar), and caustics (like Dran-O) will damage pipes (in the long run). They should never be just sitting in your traps for more than, oh, I'd guess no more than half an hour. Certainly not overnight, nor while away on vacation.

The easiest and best solution is to use soap or detergent. After washing something or pouring something down the drain, run hot water, shut off the water and put a drop of detergent or soap down the drain.

If you think that that your drains are the source of flies, there's an easy way to find out... stop up the drain (like you would if you wanted to fill the sink). Then, whenever you go to your sink, unstop it and see if anything flies out. If you don't see anything flying out within a few days... then that's not the source of your flies.

Peace.

MsRobyn 10-31-2004 02:15 PM

What helps me get rid of the flies themselves are those flypaper strips. They cost a couple dollars for four of them, and they don't involve pesticides. Then I get rid of the eggs with hot soapy water.

Robin

GingerOfTheNorth 10-31-2004 02:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by moriah
Eesh. Talk about overkill...<snip>

The easiest and best solution is to use soap or detergent. After washing something or pouring something down the drain, run hot water, shut off the water and put a drop of detergent or soap down the drain.

The problem is, the drain flies were laying eggs in organic material up under the trap in our sink, where liquid would not reach. I tried everything, beginning with boiling water, until finally using the drain cleaner.

Melandry 10-31-2004 03:04 PM

Just a note, I did not leave bleach or drain cleaner sitting in my pipes while I was away for the weekend, just the vinegar traps on the counter. I certainly don't wish to bring the wrath of the landlord on my head by destroying the plumbing.

Thanks for all the tips (again), I'm amazed that this thread is still on the first page...

mitchythekid 10-31-2004 05:15 PM

I would definatly go with the ole boiling H2O,and bleach routine,in that order,then put your drain plug on it over night. 2 or 3 aplications should do it.
By the way,it will not hurt the pipes at all,almost sounds as if your worried about what your landlord might say,or do.I would think they would help you with a simple problem such as this,if you have to call a plumber,charge it to the landlord.I would'nt want a fruit-fly flea curcus show on my counter,and kitchen,knowing there still laying more eggs in the drain!!! :rolleyes:

Walloon 11-01-2004 02:41 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Otto
Wow, that's so clever! Playing on "fruit" being a derogatory slang term for "homosexual"

Hmmm . . .

moriah 11-01-2004 04:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mitchythekid
I would definatly go with the ole boiling H2O,and bleach routine,in that order,then put your drain plug on it over night. 2 or 3 aplications should do it. By the way,it will not hurt the pipes at all

Not only are you caught up in the overreacting to the menace of the kitchen sink drain trap, but you are directly contradicting what has previously been posted. Dangerous to do so on this board. Especially without a cite to back up your patently wrong, wrong, wrong, and possibly even dangerous, 'advice.'

Bleach certainly does damage metal. It even damages stainless steel. In fact, "Many institutions do not use household chlorine bleach because it...can attack and corrode metal surfaces..."

Until you know what your posting about... don't.

TJay 11-01-2004 08:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MsRobyn
What helps me get rid of the flies themselves are those flypaper strips. They cost a couple dollars for four of them, and they don't involve pesticides. Then I get rid of the eggs with hot soapy water.

Robin

Just a quickie to say that Robin's method worked for me too - I was infested with the buggers in the summer and put up flypaper strips. Nothing happened for 2 or 3 days , then slowly they started getting stuck up on it. Within two weeks there were no more flying about, and I haven't seen one since.

dqa 12-04-2004 01:21 AM

This is the first time I've had the problem of fruit flies breeding in my drain, and I have to say that the vinegar trap works great.

But it's gotten me thinking about electric flyswatters. I would love to get one of these for Christmas, but I don't get enough other bugs to make it worthwhile to ask for one.

Do electric flyswatters work on fruit flies? Or are they too tiny to contact more than one point of the circuit at a time?

doreen 12-04-2004 08:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Melandry
I am reluctant to buy these products online but have not had much luck finding them (or any fruit fly control product) in stores around here (I plan to try Walmart and Home Depot-type places this weekend while I am visiting Mom and Dad in Suburbia). So I have a couple of questions: does anyone know what my best bet is for finding these products not online? And, has anyone had success with other methods of eliminating drain flies? For instance, should regular Drano (I noticed at the grocery store they had a special 'kitchen sink' type) also be effective? All these websites claim bleach poured down the drain does not work. Swatting at the bloody things by hand is extremely inefficient, and I although my apartment is actually very clean, the infestation is starting to make me feel like I live in a pit.

You may not be able to buy the gel in a store. I tried to buy it online, and no place would ship to NY. Apparently, it's illegal to sell it to consumers here. What I had fairly good results with ( I never have completely gottten rid of them ) was drain cleaner- but not the regular one. It was called "foaming pipe snake" and completely filled the pipe with foam until I rinsed it down.

spingears 12-04-2004 08:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dqa
Do electric flyswatters work on fruit flies? Or are they too tiny to contact more than one point of the circuit at a time?

NO, fruit flies are too small to cause arc over from one wire to the next.
I built one years ago and one could be built to do the job. It would likely be more than most people would want to undertake.

SavageNarce 12-05-2004 11:36 AM

Simple fruit fly trap: take a shallow dish or saucer, pour in some vinegar, cover with plastic wrap and punch several small holes in the plastic. Works like a charm, costs pennies.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ltfire
You could put some show tunes on a portable CD player, and take it outside. They will follow the music.

I must be slow; I thought this was a "pied piper" reference.


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