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The No. 1 Thing Attracting Fruit Flies to Your Kitchen

They're drawn to much more than ripe produce.

There's nothing more frustrating than a fruit fly infestation. One minute, your fresh produce is ripe and ready to eat; the next, it's surrounded by a swarm of flies that seems to multiply by the second. Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way. There are several measures you can take to prevent fruit fly infestations and eliminate them if they occur. The first step? Knowing what attracts these tiny bugs in the first place (other than just fruit). Keep reading to hear from pest control experts about the number one thing that lures fruit flies to your kitchen. Make sure it's never present in your space and these incessant insects will be a thing of the past.

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Where do fruit flies come from?

Produce section in grocery store
Bill Oxford / iSotck

Fruit flies appear so suddenly that we're often left wondering if they materialized from thin air. According to Megan Wede, co-owner of pest-control company Done Right Pest Solutions, they typically hitch a ride into your house on groceries, especially produce, or enter from the outside through cracks in walls or windows.

"Either an adult fruit fly will come in and lay eggs—a female can actually lay around 400 eggs, which is why they can seem to get out of hand easily—or some eggs or larvae can come in on a source and you don't know until they are adults and flying around," says Wede.

This thing attracts fruit flies to your kitchen.

Cleaning sink

Obviously, fruit flies are attracted to produce (hey, it's in their name!). But more largely, they're attracted to any type of organic material. "Organic material is anything that grows off of something," says Wede. There's a simple way to know if something is organic material (like a piece of produce) or is growing organic material—its smell.

"Ever left a damp washcloth or sponge out and then have it smell a little gross, or musty, or, well, like a drain?" Wede asks. "It has started to grow organic material and needs to be washed." Fruit flies eat organic material, which is why they're attracted to it.

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Damp spaces are breeding grounds for organic material.

close up photograph of a mop and bucket with shallow depth of field

So, where should you be on the lookout for organic material besides in your fruit bowl? Damp spaces are one area to keep an eye on. "Organic material or bacteria can grow in damp places," says Wede. "This includes dirty dishes that pile up, but also includes mops, buckets, and other cleaning products." Another place to keep in mind is your recycling bin, as some bottles and cans could have little bits of liquid in them that can attract insects. Prevent fruit fly visits by cleaning these areas in a timely fashion.

So are drains and garbage disposals.

garbage disposal in steel sink
Shutterstock/Snap Happy

Notice fruit flies swarming around your drain? You're not alone. "Every drain has a catch, a little dip in the pipe system where there are some edges that receive moisture from the running water but aren't filled to drown any pests that may harbor within," says Wede. "Flies and fruit flies will often fly down into that drain area to lay eggs because it is safe, dark, and damp. Plus, as food particles and organic materials get washed down the drain, they get a buffet that comes to them." To prevent or eliminate this, she recommends sprinkling a little drain cleaner, vinegar, or baking soda down the drain to clear them out.

If you have a garbage disposal, it can also attract pests. To prevent fruit flies from accumulating, Wede suggests putting cut-up lemon pieces down the garbage disposal. "The high acidity of the lemon should help kill off any fruit flies, flies, and some organic material," Wede says. "Plus, it helps your kitchen smell lemony fresh!" Use a lot of water when you run the garbage disposal with lemon, and operate it for longer than you usually would.

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This is how to eliminate an infestation.

person wearing gloves cleaning kitchen counter
Shutterstock / ESB Professional

The number one way to get rid of fruit flies is to remove the source. So, if that's your fruit bowl, toss the fruit and take out the garbage. If that's your drain, clean the drain.

If that doesn't do the trick—or if there are a few lingering flies—then try a home remedy. "The one I found that works for me the most is setting up a jar trap by pouring stale beer into the jar and covering it with saran wrap," says Mike Duncan, entomologist and national technical manager at Truly Nolen Pest Control. "Once it is covered, poke some small holes in the top. The beer will attract the fruit flies in; however, they will not be able to escape."

A similar trap is often made by mixing apple cider vinegar and dish soap. The sweet smell of the vinegar attracts the fruit flies, while the soap "cuts the surface tension of the vinegar so the flies will sink and drown," explains Good Housekeeping.

For further relief, try an over-the-counter trap or call in a professional. Then, use the preventative tools in your arsenal to prevent future infestations.

Juliana LaBianca
Juliana is an experienced features editor and writer. Read more
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