Friday, June 14, 2013

Fruit flies; How to prevent them

I am sure that everyone in the country has this problem, but I have never had issues with fruit flies like I do living in Seattle.  It started last year when I was making homemade bread.  I left the dough on the counter to rise and came back 6 hours later and it was INFESTED with fruit flies.  It was gross.  It was also only the start.

After my dough issue, I noticed these fruit flies were everywhere.  I could not get rid of them.  As a last resort, I threw everything alway.  Not only did I throw everything away on my counters, I threw everything away in my fridge too.  And then I moved everything off my counters and sprayed everything down with vinegar, then bleach.  

And then they came back.

I was seriously at a loss.  The first banana that entered my house after to sanitizing everything brought them back.  I realized that it was the overripe banana that brought them back.  After throwing those bananas away, I tried to make bread again and this time I put plastic wrap over the bowl, but those buggers got in anyway and ruined that bread.

Then, Matt (or maybe me, lets not point fingers) left a bottle of wine open over night.  Next day, it was full of dead flies.  Even my balsamic vinegar on my stove was full of dead flies.

I wanted to vomit.

What could I do?  

I sanitized again and got rid of the bread dough.  And then I went through a small list of things to try and keep them away.  By the end of the summer, I was successful at keeping them away AND I was still able to have fresh produce in the house.  Want to know how?  Read below:

Step 1:  Clean your kitchen.  I don't mean, wipe the counters down.  I mean SCRUB them.  With bleach.  Move all your stuff on your counters off and scrub behind them.  Clean the toaster.  Clean the microwave.  Scrub down all your small appliances.  The reason for this is that fruit flies are attracted to anything that is festering (I hate that word), so you want to make sure you get that silly little spot of grease or that apple seed you didn't see roll under your coffee pot.  Take your time cleaning and really get in all the nooks and crannies.  

Step 2:  Clean your sink.  Again with bleach.  Gross food particles get all up in there and sit.  And ferment.  This attracts fruit flies.  After you get the sink all scrubbed down, fill it full of bleach water and let it sit for a little bit, then take out the plugs and let it all drain at once.  You can also use lemons in your garbage disposals, but make sure you really rinse out the drain after, because if any parts are left, it will attract the flies.  

Step 3:  Use your produce.  And quickly.  If you want to bring apple slices to the play date this week, then buy them the day before and cut them up and put them in the fridge.  Any produce you can prep and put in the fridge, do it the day you buy it.  Then use ziplocks, tupperware, whatever and put it in the fridge.

Step 4:  Use the oven.  To rise your bread that is.  If you like making homemade bread like me, then put your bowl of dough in an unheated oven.  That's right, put it in the oven.  The oven is completely sealed and nothing can get in.  Including fruit flies.  It's awesome (thanks to Megan's mom for that tip).

Step 5:  Take out your trash.  Here in Seattle we have to separate our trash into three sections, recycling, compost and trash.  Where we don't fill up our trash half as fast since we separate, we still take out our compost every day, right when dinner is over.  This way nothing is left in the kitchen to fester.

Step 6:  Do your dishes.  Every night before you go to bed, do your dishes.  Again, this way there is no food left around festering and attracting flies.  Plus, when you wake up in the morning, you only have to put away your clean dishes.  And you have a clean sink.  With no flies.  Win/win.

Well there you have it.  My six simple ways to help prevent fruit flies.  You might still get them, but at least you will have the peace of mind that you tried absolutely everything.

Do you have any tips at keeping these little buggers away?  Add them to the comments and I'll add them to my list!

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  1. This is exactly the only way to get rid of them. You know how I know? I've tried EVERYTHING else!!! So I will be trying this since the season of the flies is upon us. However, what about the bananas? I know they bring them in and attract them, but bananas aren't something you can prep and throw in the fridge like everything else.

    Also, scrub all your produce as soon as it comes in. That helps, too; especially if you cannot prep it right away. Especially cantaloupe.

  2. I noticed a few fruit flies the other day. The first flies of the year. What a pain. I just make sure there is no food sitting out.

  3. For those little buggers that remain, it's easy to make a fruit fly trap: put a little vinegar in a small jar, I use a Ball jar and a used canning lid, then poke a few small holes in the lid with an ice pick. Set it out where you have fruit flies - they will crawl in and won't be able to get out, and they'll die in the vinegar.

  4. We've never had fruit flies quite that bad but we do get them on the bananas. I use the hose attachment on my vacuume cleaner to suck them up. You just have to make sure you don't get any of the overripe bananas...that's really gross. Stopping by from Barn Hop.

  5. I have a terrible fruit fly problem in my apartment. But only in the summer and only in the kitchen. We don't know why. They just suddenly appear. We tried everything - not keeping produce (or any food) out, cleaning everything, apple cider vinegar on the counter in a cup. It attracted them and then killed them (which I didn't love) but it never completely got rid of them. I thought maybe they were sink flies, so i started pouring things down the drain in the kitchen and bathroom (oh yea we get them in the bathroom in the summer, too). Nothing seems to work. We have a cat and they swarm around the poor thing's food. It is awful! I am glad you were able to fix your problem though. Here from Mostly Homemade Monday's

  6. We've had our share of mini swarms of fruit flies through the years. After reading this article and comments, I retrieved a 2-liter soda bottle from the recycling tote.

    I plugged out 5 holes in the cap for an entry. Not having apple or clear vinegar, I squirted some vinaigrette in. We'll see how it goes!

  7. Thanks for sharing these great tips! Those pesky little things are very persistent!
    His blessings,
    Kim @ Curtain Queen

  8. I just had to read this because the first year we moved to Mississippi our house had a horrible case of those little flies. It was horrible. I even had to cancel a play date of my daughter's. I had never seen anything like it. We had an exterminator that told me other than spraying them on contact with a flying insect spray there was nothing we could do to get rid of them. The key is just to stay on top of the situation. Keeping food picked up and the sink and counter tops clean is huge. I was already doing this though when we had the "swarm" so I knew I needed to do something in addition. I know people don't like chemicals and prefer natural methods but I have found it very helpful to spray around entry ways Raid Flying Insect and when/if I begin to see them in larger numbers I put everything on the counter tops (kitchen and bathrooms) away where the chemicals can't get on them, and then give the house a good spray and then go run some errands. When I get home I clean the counter tops again. Oddly those little flies also linger on screens so it is good to treat those too. They are def a pain but since I began doing these things I now only spray once in the spring, we only see the normal few flies. They just seem to like certain climates and most people where I live also complain about them. I am glad it isn't just here though but I am sorry you have to deal with them too! If you ever have a problem with ants getting into your cupboards place things like your cough syrups, peanut butter, honey, even sprinkles in ziplock bags! That's what I do and even though some people think I am silly... I don't see any ants in my cupboards anymore! #countryliving ;) lol

  9. i bought a forked leaf sundew plant (drosera binata) that traps and eats those little buggers! it works great for us, but with your situation, you may need a few of these bug eating plants!


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