Fruit fly infestation is the annoying problem no household ever wants to deal with. Swat, squash, seize and kill yet these pesky little demons seem to always comeback in troops like never before.
Be guaranteed however, that fruit flies never come into the house from another dimension nor do they arrive at any doors uninvited. There are numerous household habits that invariably sound the whistles for fruit flies to barge into apartments through seeps and cracks and make life a living hell for inhabitants.
In this article, we discuss extensively on these habits, tell you how fruit flies use these habits to locate houses in the first place, and offer practical advice and solutions you can employ to put an end to this persistent battle once and for all.
What causes fruit flies?
Fermenting fruits and vegetables are the main causes of fruit flies in the house. Chemical odors given off by these food items attract fruits flies from more than one kilometres away. That’s why it’s extremely important to observe hygienic practices by ensuring that all areas around the house (especially the kitchen area) are sanitized squeaky clean and rotting or damaged food parts are discarded promptly.
The sources of fruit flies: What causes fruit flies in the house?
1) Fermenting fruits and vegetables
As mentioned before, fermenting or rotting fruits and vegetables are the main causes of fruit flies in the house. They give off certain chemical odors that humans find disturbing but fruit flies are keenly attracted to.
Fruit flies have the magical ability to detect this stench for distances greater than one kilometres, and when they arrive within target, they can be very hard to stop considering their very minuscule nature which allows them to squeeze through openings that are as tiny as sesame seed.
Fruit flies are especially fond of consuming rotting parts of fruits and vegetables but can also feed on the microorganisms that are causing the rot to happen. For example bacteria and fungi. If you have a rotting banana, onion, or tomato sitting comfortably somewhere around the house, that’s most likely the reason why you have pesky fruit flies all over the place.
Additionally, it’s never the case that fruit flies are always attracted into the house by items that have started to go bad. It could be that you brought them in by accident from the grocery stores or the garden. Yes you!
That’s often through already infested items hidden between freshly collected produce. These items can hold as much as 100 “units” of fruit fly eggs and the worst part is that the eggs will hatch out in less than two weeks.
2) Spots of spilled drinks (especially of fruits and sugar based substances) screaming to get them off from the floor or countertop
Honestly, we can’t stop wishing you more and more fruit flies when it’s you that accidentally spilled fruit drink on the floor and deliberately refused to wipe it off. Are you expecting a miraculous cleansing without insects and them bugs turning up in swarms? Fruit flies will continue parading your property unless you start taking drink stains on surfaces more seriously.
Remember that fruit flies are absolutely in love with everything that has to do with fruits. It doesn’t make an exception even if it’s lying on the dirties of floors! Another set of things that can attract fruit flies are empty cans and bottles with substances remaining in them. Homemade canned fruits and vegetables with lids not properly closed can also attract fruit flies. In this case, the female fruit fly lays her eggs under these lids which transform into adults in about two weeks and begin their quest to infest the area.
3) Cleaning supplies
You might have squeaky clean floors or return back from grocery shopping with the most prefect fruits and vegetables, but you can still mess up with the cleaning supplies and have fruit flies take over your house for a leftover party. So what has cleaning supplies got to do with fruit flies anyways? Well here is the thing.
Remember the mop stick you rubbed so hard on the floors to clean off the remains of the over-ripened banana fruit that fell off to the ground? Or the cleaning rag you effortlessly ran through the kitchen sink in order to scoop out the tiniest bit of leftover seeds? They’re actually the problem here. Because the moist film of fermenting materials on them can attract a thousand and one fruit flies in no time. So if you have a dirty layer of rag, mop stick or dish sponge sticking somewhere around. That could be the key to eliminating your worst nightmares.
4) Dirty drains, plumbing and garbage disposal sink
These too, regularly house tiny particles of food items in them, not to mention the essence of drinks from bottles emptied into them. When a fruit fly sniffs up the fermenting stench and the “attraction” spell is cast upon it, trust me, the bug will do everything within power and knowledge to ensure it never misses out on that meal. And you know what that means for the household don’t you? Besides, a fruit fly in the drain is as immune to flushing as a film of plastic is to toilet flushing.
5) Trash can, bin and bag
Similar to the drain, trash cans and bags too regularly contain quantities of leftover and rotting food. But where they actually differ (in terms of how well they attract fruit flies) is the volume of rotting stuff they can easily contain and also their ease of access. If there is anything that’s making fruit flies pick your apartment over your neighbors’, it’s probably the recycle bin at the basement with all the sludge lying happily at the bottom.
6) Seam of appliances and equipment
Appliances like toaster and fruit blender and equipment like cutting board, fruit peeler, knife, mixing bowl and colander can easily retain food remnants on them. If they are left for long periods (more than a day) without washing, they could end up inviting fruit flies into the house especially if that area is a known hotspot for fruit fly infestation.
How do fruit flies locate decaying food?
Fruit flies are recognized year round pests but are more specifically pronounced during summer/fall season which houses the perfect conditions for their reproduction to take place.
An adult fruit fly actually has nothing in mind other than to mate, really. So after the savage chill of winter disappears, and after they’ve all awoken from a long overwinter nap, they approach near areas they perceive has the optimum temperature and food for their larvae to feed on, grow and develop when they lay eggs. This place is nothing more than restaurants, eateries of supermarkets, and your kitchen sink, drain or trash can. That’s where the food items they’re fond of are, and that’s also where conditions are neither too hot nor cold. Simply perfect the way their babies like them.
Fruit flies are able to locate food sources; which are nothing but fermenting fruits and vegetables using tiny antenna hairs that are present at the top of their heads. These antennas are finely tuned to sniff out chemicals like acetic acid let off by rotting fruits. And the sniffing distance can easily extend beyond a kilometres (0.63 miles).
The fruit flies employ these antennas as their guide to pinpoint food emitting foul stench. If they survey the area and it turns out “breathable and breedable”, they penetrate through holes, cracks and gaps from inadequately screened windows, doors and openings of plumbing’s in order to make residence out of the place and breed as many offspring’s as condition permits.
Another way that fruit flies can get into the house is through already infested food matter. More than a hundred eggs can be laid in one sitting and these eggs develop relatively quickly into adults that fly around investigating things that never constitute their business.
Once fruit flies get into the house, they mate almost instantly and lay eggs near or at the surface of fermenting food. The eggs hatch out 12 to 15 hours after being laid and develop into first, second and third stage larvae in under 48 hours. Then, they continue to grow for about 4 days (when the temperature is optimal; 25 – 30 degrees) feeding primarily on the decayed part of the fruit and the microorganism that ferments the fruit.
Next, the larvae turns into pupae and continue to develop for 4 additional days after which they turn into adults. But that’s all at optimal condition. Anything more or less optimal condition and the development is delayed due to stress. So depending on the temperature of the house, you could get an infestation anywhere between 7 to 50 days after eggs have been laid.
Fruit flies can lay up to 400 eggs per breeding cycle and at least half of them would survive to adulthood. If you don’t take any measures with rotting and decaying food items, but rather, embrace unhygienic practices as you’d embrace your child, then fruit flies would surely pester your household.
And it’s not like killing them is a cheap and easy affair. These monsters are masters of the dodge game and can detect hand motion even before it’s made. Good luck trying to squash thousands of fruit flies.
Fruit flies are by themselves zero source of harm. They do not bite and transfer deadly diseases into the body but they do carry harmful bacteria that could contaminate surfaces when they touch them. Thus, these surfaces could also serve as a means of contamination.
Additionally, fruit fly larvae accidentally consumed from parts of decaying food items can present serious stomach distress or illness, although the likelihood of this happening once you cut off the decayed part is very small given that fruit flies lay eggs near the surface of the fermenting food and the larvae feed almost exclusively at the surface.
What is the fastest way to get rid of fruit flies?
Fruit flies infestation can be annoying, but thankfully it’s not something that cannot be dealt with, only that it isn’t an easy affair. Anyone that has done so in the past can attest to this fact. There are a handful of methods and practices you can apply and observe in order to completely eliminate fruit flies from the house. Here are the most effective of them.
- Be clean: Sounds very simple yet its very hard for a majority of us to implement. Being clean at all times is actually the key to completely becoming free of fruit flies. Scrub your countertops pristine and wipe clean floors like you’d peel out the base concrete from them. Do not allow drink stains to breath one second and make sure you properly wash all cleaning supplies till they appear new. These things would go a long way in suffocating fruit flies to death. Remember they are repelled by anything that appears clean!
- Get rid of sources and point of entry: Empty trash cans, clean drains having garbage disposals regularly or tape clear plastic bag over the opening overnight to trap swarms, get rid of decaying food items or cut off rotten parts and eat the rest immediately, consume overripe foods to prevent any possible infestation and ensure to properly clean seam of kitchen appliances. Store perishable goods such as tomatoes and fruits in the refrigerator and isolate decaying ones from the rest. Windows should be screened properly and doors be closed regularly although these methods can never ever stop pesky fruit flies from entering the house, especially give their tiny bodies.
- Apply the vinegar fennel trap: Now after you’ve gotten rid of the source materials, it’s time to finish off the job. This method works like magic. Fill a container or jar with 2 cm of apple cider vinegar and cap it with a funnel. Then tape around the mouth perimeters so that no insect will be able to squeeze through and escape after falling into the trap. Place this in the kitchen or any where you suspect to be a breeding site. Watch how the last remains of fruit flies dissolve in the acidic essence of vinegar.
- Or use quality insecticides: If you don’t fancy homemade traps, you can try quality insecticides to get rid of fruit flies completely. Or, if you can use both insecticide alongside the vinegar trap to completely eliminate fruit flies from the apartment.