The Drosophila melanogaster, also know as the common fruit fly, is a worthy foe indeed. These miniature flying ninjas feed on fruit that has been set out in the kitchen, and once they have made their presence known, they have already hidden their eggs and started their reproductive cycle. In fact, within 24 hours of being laid, the eggs of a fruit fly begin to hatch, and within 2 weeks a fully matured fruit fly will join the ranks of the other flying ninjas.
The typical lifespan of these critters is between one and two months depending on the species. To make matters worse, the flying ninjas are cold-weather experts and can actually winter over. While these creatures are typically found around rotting fruit, they can also be found in the cleanest of kitchens. Due to their fast reproductive cycles, they can also be very difficult to get rid of.
Thankfully, here are six tips to help get rid of fruit flies as well as how to keep them from returning.
• Get rid of any obvious food sources.Check the potato and vegetable storage areas both inside the fridge and out. Toss out anything that is over-ripe If there is liquid in the bottom of the bins and baskets, clean them with soap and water and then sanitize them by lightly spraying with a mixture of 1 tablespoon bleach per 1 gallon of water. Allow them to dry thoroughly before replacing with fresh fruits and vegetables. Do this a few times each week.
• Clean your trash, recycling, and compost bins. Be sure to empty all trash daily. Begin by washing the bins with warm soap and water, then spray with the sanitizing mixture mentioned above and let air dry. Depending on the size of the bins, cleaning them outside may be necessary but using a bathtub also works- just be sure to clean and sanitize the tub afterward. Do this at least once a month.
• Wash the dishes and the counters.Due to different lifestyles, dish chores are done differently. However, if there is a full blown fruit fly invasion going, steps need to be taken to ensure that dishes are washed immediately after use. This is especially important where fruity drinks or toppings are involved.
The flying ninjas love the last drops of wine in the glass as well as the bit of Kool-Aid spilled on the counter that seeped under the microwave. Clean the dishes right after use and those dastardly flies will not have a chance to exploit a diverse culinary palette. Do this every day.
• Use vinegar traps.Fruit flies will navigate towards anything they see as a food source. Fortunately one of those potential food sources is also a death trap. Apple cider vinegar has many uses in the kitchen and fruit fly remover is one of them. In a bowl, pour in one part water to one part apple cider vinegar.
Soy sauce and malt vinegar can also be used. Toss in a squirt of dish soap and the death trap is complete. The flies are attracted to the vinegar and will try to land in it to feast. The soap in the vinegar will coat their wings and weigh them down so they will sink faster.
Do this as often and as long as needed and change the traps daily until there are no more flies floating in the water.
• Check plants in the kitchen. Many people keep all sorts of plants in the kitchen and while some plants (like basil) can actually act as a deterrent to fruit flies, most can act as an egg incubator instead. If there are fruit flies hanging about a specific plant in the kitchen, chances are the females have laid their eggs in the soil already.
Thankfully, the remedy for this is quite easy. Simply let the soil dry out briefly between watering. Some plants prefer drying out between watering and most can at least tolerate airing out a time or two. If there is any question about the health of a plant and the watering requirements, be sure to do some research beforehand. Check plants at least once a week.
• Use essential oils in cleaning.Once the flying ninjas have been removed, it is beneficial to implement essential oils into the normal cleaning routine. There are several websites that have homemade cleaning supplies that use essential oils. Depending upon the item being cleaned, essential oils added to a water base or oil base can greatly enhance the end result.
To aid in preventing another fruit fly ninja invasion add a few drops of the following essential oils to your cleaning base: lemongrass, lavender, cedarwood, peppermint, clove, pine, sandalwood, rosemary, citronella, and patchouli. Please be aware that essential oils are very potent and must be used diluted. Make a part of the normal cleaning routine.
These six things can mean the difference between a happy kitchen free of fruit flies and an unhappy kitchen with a full-blown flying ninja invasion. Remember that the life cycle of a fruit fly is short, and as such it relies on very rapid reproduction in order to keep the species alive.
Take steps to interrupt the cycle and the invasion will be over.