How to Kill the Fruitflies

I have the answer, in two parts.

Preface: I had all the answers before, from the internet. Google away. You will find information about discovering the source of food, and trapping the outliers with funnels, cones of paper, bits of rotting fruit in glasses and bottles, using Saran wrap, etc. etc. etc.

I knew nothing.

FIRST, the quest of finding their breeding place is paramount. After eliminating all kitchen counter sources, and pouring boiling water down the drains every night for a month, I moved the fridge. I found a lot of very dry congealed fruit juice, but no larva, nothing sufficiently juicy to explain the flies in the house. But more below…

SECOND, kill them where they fly. Forget this Internet business of creating traps with rotting fruit, Saran wrap, and little holes you punched with a pencil. Fuck that, seriously. Get an open tumbler half-full of apple cider vinegar; add a drop of dish soap, swirly around, and you’re done. They will fly in there and drown, because the soap destroyed the surface tension. Seven in one blow, and again, and again, and again. While this problem raged I literally counted hundreds dead each day. Apple cider vinegar, no trap, just break the surface tension and they are dead.

BUT FINALLY … if this doesn’t cure you, after you’ve moved the fridge, keep looking. I’d resigned myself to breathing in the flies forever, until I went looking for the fire extinguisher in the garage for another reason*. It turned out, it was under some cardboard to be recycled, and under that was …

a bag of potatoes. Very, very very old potatoes, probably left there in the garage during the chill of last winter, never to be thought of again. Liquid now, of course. Not even smelling as bad as you’d imagine,. But full of Life.

At least 40 Million, I estimate, in bugs. All inside that one bag, and outside of it too, the primary weight of it. Over time they must have migrated from the garage to the house, where they obligingly died in vinegar glasses, but not at a rate fast enough to keep them out of people’s food, and mouths.

But now we’re done. About a million survived the trip of the potato bag from the garage through the kitchen to to the outdoors, and I welcome them. Come drown and die in my vinegar, one by one, over the next several days. I don’t care. I have discovered your nest and have defeated your army.

*Don’t ask. We’re on top of it now, thanks.

Yeah, potatoes will do it! Visiting an old beau. (actually to pick up some stuff I’d left behind when I moved out) we were having dinner and there were fruit-flies (or vinegar flies) EVERYWHERE. Every mouthful of wine included at least ten of the rotten things going down my throat as well. The ex didn’t seem to notice…I guess he’d acclimatised himself to living with the disgusting little bastards.

So I set about cleaning the kitchen to find the source, and YEP…an old potato box (which was MINE) had a bag of rotten spuds, with foul stuff oozing out the bottom and squillions of flies flying out when I opened the lid. I took the box out the back…doused it in petrol and set it alight. Shame I had to sacrifice the box…

Seriously, it was gross, and I still can’t understand how the ex didn’t notice the smell or the flies.

But I have them now as well, in the compost heap…trying different techniques to minimise them…soil on top of food scraps with straw on top of the soil…and it has cut them down substantially but they’re not gone completely. :frowning:

Open vinegar traps are good, but they can be improved on.

A bait like live yeast paste (1:1 dry yeast:water) is far more effective IME, though you’ll definitely need to fashion some kind of trap since that won’t kill any flies. Tape an inverted paper cone (with a small opening in the tip) to the top of the bottle. You’ll need to be very diligent about collecting, sealing, and discarding your traps before they start breeding a few thousand more of the little bastards…

(At least this is what seems to work best in the lab, where we raise 'em by the million and always have a few escapers flying around)

The only thing I’ve found effective is fire. Lots and lots of fire. I HATE these things!

We’ve had the very best luck as far as trapping them goes with a mixture of cider and wine vinegars, as well as unscented dish soap.

I’m guessing that it trips the two kinds of spoiled fruit receptors, and doesn’t have any weird “Dawn” or “Palmolive” odors to potentially freak the flies out.

We caught dozens in a few hours that way, a while back when some bananas we bought had fruit flies.

I do have the vinegars, but not unscented dish soap, so I’ll try that. Thanks!!

Soak a towels in ammonia and put then in any open drains. Pouring stuff in the drains alone won’t do it. I’ve seen fruit fly traps advertised, don’t know if they work. Fly paper does work.

FWIW, we use apple cider vinegar with a drop of dish soap (Sunlight-lemon scented) and saran wrap over the top of a Mason jar with a few holes in it. Kills’em by the dozens.

Nuclear bunnies from orbit.

Nothing smells quite like rotten potatoes. How did you not notice that smell?

I compost my fruit and veggie scraps, so if I’m not vigilant about carrying the small counter top container from the kitchen to the compost bin, I get a fruit fly explosion. Now that it’s summer, I need to do this frequently, but I forgot for a little too long and ended up with maggots. Gross, but my tropical fish appreciated the treat.

When I find a cuban frog in the bathroom I’ll let him hang out for a day or two to clear out the fruit flies.

Since I started putting food scraps in the freezer and potatoes in the fridge, I haven’t had any fruit flies. Before that, apple cider in a mason jar worked fine.

I spray the entire kitchen with Raid. My wife has threatened to divorce me if I do it again.

I know, right? But the potato bag seemed to contain the smell; there was nothing until I actually moved the bag. Then, of course, the horror smell all at once that still comes back in my dreams.

You guys who are using saran wrap with little holes – my whole point (besides Find The Source) is that the saran wrap isn’t necessary. When I was using traps like that, I was catching maybe 10 per day. When I switched to just vinegar in a glass, I started catching about 100 per day, per glass. (You can see how big the problem had become.)

The saran wrap keeps most of them out, I think. With an open glass, straight vinegar and a drop of soap, they fly right in, land on the surface, find no surface tension, and drown right away. I find it helps to use a shallow glass and fill it most of the way up. With a tall glass and just a 1/2 inch of vinegar, they seemed to become more cautious, crawling halfway down the inside of the glass before changing their minds and flying away.

Next time I run out to Walgreen’s I’ll see if they have any. Thanks! :wink:

This works well, it looks like you have a jar of urine sitting around, but it catches the flies!

I do the saran wrap thing - but the secret ingredient is yogurt.

The little fuckers just love peach-flavored Activia. But any yogurt + something fruit-ish will do. No vinegar, no dish soap. Tight saran wrap on a disposable container, poke a bunch of holes with a toothpick, and absolute hordes of fruit flies will get in there.

Unfortunately, they’re still coming. I think I must still have a source to find.

Not that apple cider vinegar is that expensive but I’ve found that you can dilute with water at least 50/50 without any drop in attractiveness. In a small house where my bathroom isn’t all that far from the prime kitchen swarm I’ve had a bathroom swarm that seemed to like vacation in the damper environment. Even a small amount of vinegar in the toilet draws some even if it’s not as effective as stronger mixes.

I’ve also used pop/water bottles minus saran wrap to deal with some of the hang out near but don’t enter problem. The mouth is big enough it doesn’t slow entry rates much. When you wander by you can just slap your hand over the hole and give the bottle a shake to drown the less committed. It’s best if you cackle maniacally and say something ominous to strike fear in their little hearts.