7 Ways to Get Rid of the Flies that Ruin Your Plants

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in Plants

Indoor gardeners always face the threat of having fruit flies and fungus gnats hovering and buzzing above their plants. Their diet is mostly the matter that is organic and the fungi in the potting soil. Though they do not cause any harm to the plants, it can be quite disturbing for the gardeners to watch their plants being attacked by these fruit flies. Here are a few easy tips to keep the fruit flies away from your plants:

  1. Control Your Watering

Thankfully, getting rid of them does not require much investment, and you don’t have to buy chemicals for this either. Controlling your watering will help to keep the fruit flies away from loitering around your plants.

    The fruit flies usually carry several fungi such as Pythium and Phytophthora, which can spoil your plant.

Since fruit flies come as adults and larvae, one of the most efficient methods of keeping them away is to eliminate the larvae.

  • The adults usually lay their eggs on the top part of the moist soil.
  • Adding sand over the top of your soil will confuse the adult fruit flies and this prevents them from laying their eggs in the pot.

Once the larvae are eliminated, the adults should be trapped.

  • For this, fill a food jar with little drops of dish soap along with the apple cider vinegar and poke holed on the lid of the jar, through which the fruit flies can enter.
  • Keep this jar where they are seen in a higher number. The plants will be dived in the vinegar and the drowning will happen straight away.
  1. Use Potato Slices

  • Slice a few raw potatoes into 1-inch pieces. Keep these slices on the surface of the soil to attract the flies.
  • Leave them there for about 4 hours and replace them every day to catch as many fruit flies as possible.
  1. Employ Sticky Traps

They are the easiest and most efficient method to ensure that the fruit flies are gone away.

  • Spread some Vaseline on a piece of cardstock and place this card horizontally on the surface of the soil on which the affected plant is growing.
  • As the fruit flies leap from the soil, this card will catch them and the Vaseline will keep them stuck onto the card. You can set up another similar card in a vertical position to trap more of them.
  1. Make the Use of Hydrogen Peroxide

  • Make a mixture with four parts water and one part hydrogen peroxide.
  • Once the topmost layer of the soil is dry, water the plants with the above solution. As soon as the larvae of the fruit flies come in contact with this mixture, they will die.
  • The soil might fizz for a while, but that is normal.
  1. Apply Cinnamon Powder

This is a natural fungicide, usually used to prevent damping off.

  • The cinnamon powder kills the fungus on which the fruit fly larvae feed on, thereby destroying them in return.
  • All you have to do is sprinkle some cinnamon till it forms a visible layer on the affected soil every few weeks.


  • It is recommended that you start the process of getting them away as early as possible to reduce the number before it gets out of hand.
  • Also, you can also consider using some chemicals that are available in the market as long as they do not cause harm to the well – being of the plants.


How to kill fruit flies, according to a scientist


Professor and Canada Research Chair, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Laurentian University

Disclosure statement

Thomas Merritt receives funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Canada Research Chairs Program.


Universitié Laurentienne provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation CA-FR.

Laurentian University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation CA.

The Conversation UK receives funding from these organisations


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As a researcher who works on fruit flies, I often get asked how to get them out of someone’s kitchen. This happens to fly researchers often enough that we sit around fly conferences (these actually exist) and complain about getting asked this question.

Meanwhile, we watch the same fruit flies buzz around our beers instead of discussing pithy and insightful questions about the research that we’re pursuing.

But I get it: Fruit flies are annoying. So, fine, here’s how we get rid of them in my lab: We build a trap. It’s not perfect, but it’s OK.

1. Take a small jar (we use small canning jars) and pour in cider vinegar to about two centimetres deep.

2. “Cap” the jar with a funnel. You can use a plastic funnel if you have one, but a makeshift paper one works well.

3. Tape the funnel in place so there are no gaps for the flies to crawl out.

Thomas Merritt, who researches fruit flies, shows you how to kill them. (Thomas Merritt) , Author provided

Flies fly in and can’t find their way out. Every day or two, replace the vinegar.

Instead of vinegar, you can also use beer or wine, but I prefer to drink one of these while making the traps.

There is actually a little science behind the trap. Fruit flies — at least Drosophila melanogaster, the most common fly buzzing around your bananas — are attracted to aging fruit, rotting fruit in particular. They lay their eggs there and the larvae hatch and feed on the soft, overripe flesh.

To find that fruit, flies use their sense of smell, what we call their olfactory system. What they are sensing, smelling, are things like acetic acid — the molecule that gives vinegar its pungent punch. So, you could bait your trap with fruit, but vinegar jumps right to the chase and lures them in.

The flies flying around your kitchen likely came from outside. Drosophila melanogaster are originally an African species, but they’ve spread across the globe. We call them a “cosmopolitan” species — they’re found wherever people are.

Where flies come from and why we research them

The story of how they’ve adapted to so many different environments (like, for example, the tip of Florida or even northern Ontario, where I live) is an interesting one and a hot topic of current research. The flies that buzz around my fruit bowl, at least in the summer and fall, likely came from a local population. I’ve actually done work on flies we collected from the composter in my backyard.

Interestingly, the combination of a tropical species, a cool day and a warm house is likely why there seem to be more flies in the fall. As the temperature outside goes down (and even on cool summer nights where I live), the flies come inside where it’s warm. Where do the flies go in the winter? We actually don’t know. We know they can’t freeze and live, so our best guess is they hide away in basements waiting for warm weather. There’s actually a name for this idea. We call it the “Root Cellar Hypothesis.”

A trap Thomas Merritt made from a plastic cup, a sheet of printer paper, and about a quarter cup of cider vinegar. (Thomas Merritt) , Author provided

The second question that I, and every other fly researcher, get asked is: Why flies? Good question. The first answer is: Because they’re small. Seriously.

Much of the research I do involves asking how individuals, or small groups of individuals, are similar and different. Asking this question is best done with thousands of individuals. An average experiment in my lab can involve tens of thousands of flies. Imagine doing this kind of work on zebras. That’s a lot of zebras. It also helps that flies grow quickly, reproduce constantly and are super easy (usually) to keep in the lab.

The second reason why we research flies is because they are strikingly similar to humans — or any other animal on our planet. Because life on Earth shares a common ancestry, we have all evolved in complex and interwoven paths from a common ancestor. We share much of our genetics and almost all of our biochemistry.

Sixty to 80 per cent of genes found in humans are found in flies, and essentially all our biochemistry and metabolism is identical. So when we ask a question using flies, we can answer a question that interests us about humans.

It is this relatedness, and the ease of working with them in the lab, that have led to research on flies being the foundation of no less than four Nobel Prizes.

Ironically, as I type this there is literally a fruit fly — Drosophila melanogaster — walking the lip of my coffee cup. The little devils are everywhere.

Why Fruit Flies Are So Hard To Kill (YouTube/Scientific Insider)


Ultimate Tricks for Getting Rid of Fruit Flies in the Bathroom

Anyone who battled a fly infestation knows how difficult it is to get rid of these pesky pests, that can reproduce at an amazing speed and infest any area of your home. These flies have an affinity towards damp and wet places like your bathroom and such places serve as the potential breeding grounds for them.

Anyone who battled a fly infestation knows how difficult it is to get rid of these pesky pests, that can reproduce at an amazing speed and infest any area of your home. These flies have an affinity towards damp and wet places like your bathroom and such places serve as the potential breeding grounds for them.

Did You Know?

Despite being called fruit flies, these flies do not eat fruits. Rather, they eat the fungus or the rot that grows on fruits, and this is the reason why they are attracted by the smell of rotten fruits.

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Flies are usually found inside the bathroom sink. For getting rid of fruit flies present in the sink, just pour some ammonia into it and then flush it out. You can use ammonia to clean your bathtub drains as well.

Try Apple Cider Vinegar

This amazing product has a never ending list of uses, of which one is the ability to kill fruit flies. You can pour this vinegar into the drainpipe to kill the flies. However, be sure to warm the vinegar slightly before pouring it into the drainpipe. Heating helps release the fragrance of the cider vinegar, which in turn, helps attract more fruit flies.

Cider vinegar can also be used to make a fly trap. Take some vinegar in a cup or glass, and place a paper or plastic funnel on top of it. The funnel will provide a large space for the flies to enter the glass. But flies are not intelligent enough to exit through the neck of the funnel, and so, they will get trapped inside the glass.

Otherwise, you can take some cider vinegar in a bowl, and cover it with a plastic wrap. Be sure to poke some holes in the wrap, which should be large enough to facilitate the entry of flies, but small enough to prevent their exit. The smell of vinegar will attract flies, and they will enter the bowl through the small holes. But they won’t be able to exit through those holes.

Spare Some Red Wine

If you have red wine in your home, then sacrifice a small amount of wine to make a highly effective fly trap. Like humans, flies, especially fruit flies love the smell of wine, which is the reason why this trap is so effective. Leave a small amount of wine at the bottom of the bottle, or pour some wine in a glass, and keep it near the sink or a corner of your bathroom. The next day, you will spot flies floating on top of the wine.

An inexpensive homemade fly trap can be made by mixing a small amount of dish washing liquid and vinegar. Just pour some vinegar and a few drops of dish washing liquid into a jar or container. Now, cover it with a piece of aluminum foil, and make a few holes on the foil to facilitate the entry of fruit flies. The smell of vinegar will attract fruit flies, while the holes made on the aluminum foil would make their entry possible. The dishwashing liquid, on the other hand, will kill the flies.

This is an excellent device for killing adult flies. Just go to your bathroom and crush as many flies as you can by using this mechanical device. Otherwise, you can opt for an electrical swatter that looks like a badminton racket. It can kill flies and other insects more efficiently than the mechanical swatter.

Hang Some Fly Stickers

Another conventional way to kill flies is hang some fly strips or fly stickers in places where flies are seen frequently. Though these strips are not very popular, they can work rather satisfactorily, and attract and trap flies efficiently with their odor and the adhesive applied on them. It is better to place them in a less obtrusive or inaccessible area, so as to avoid any accidental entangling of clothes and other items.

Homemade Sticky Swatter

A sticky swatter can help you overcome the difficulty of swatting the small fruit flies. To make a sticky swatter at home, you will need a Styrofoam plate and cooking spray. Just coat the styrofoam plate with the cooking spray, and use it for swatting flies.

Fruit flies have a very delicate and small respiratory system, which cannot tolerate irritants like smoke for a long time. So, you may consider the option of burning incense to kill these pesky pests. The smoke as well as the perfume of the incense will kill the flies slowly but surely.

Replace Old Towels and Mops

The wet and crumpled towels, and the old and worn-out mops and sponges can attract flies to your kitchen and bathroom, as fruit flies thrive in wet and damp places. In fact, they can lay eggs in such items. So, consider to replace such old mops and towels.

Things to be Considered

To get rid of fruit flies completely, it is important to eliminate the sources of food, as well as the breeding grounds. Usually, the places from where these flies derive their food, and the places where they breed are same. Such a place can be your garbage bin that contains moist and decaying organic matter, and ripe or rotten fruits. Flies love such a place for breeding and laying eggs.

Other places that can also serve as breeding grounds for fruit flies are, drains, sink, and old and unused garbage cans. So, always use sealed bags, and bins or cans having lids for dumping garbage.

Maintain the same cleanliness and sanitation in the vicinity of your house. If fruit flies invade the surrounding of your house, they would not take much time to infest your kitchen and bathroom.

Along with cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom, inspect the cabinets to see if they have any hole or leak to allow the entry of fruit flies. If they have, then seal them immediately.

Remember that there is no alternative to cleanliness, if you want to keep fruit flies away from your house. So, keep every part of your house clean, especially the sink, basin, drains, and the garbage bins, which are more likely to attract flies. Be sure to dispose any decaying food material immediately. Never keep ripe fruits in open; keep them in the refrigerator or eat them as soon as possible. Hope these simple steps would help keep your house free of fruit flies and other insects.

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Get rid of fruit flies

The common fruit fly is a species of fly known as Drosophila melanogaster. To distinguish a fruit fly from other common house flies, take a look at their eyes and body. If their eyes are red and have a tan thorax, you’ve spotted a fruit fly.

Fruit flies’ main food source is ripening or rotting fruit (hence their name), which is where they lay their eggs, but pretty much any decaying organic matter will attract fruit flies.

Fruit flies can become bothersome to homeowners and detrimental to businesses, especially in the food industry. They can be found in homes, restaurants, grocery stores,

gardens and anywhere else food is decaying or fermenting. Fruit flies make their way to places such as drains, trash containers, garbage disposals, empty beer and soda cans and wet mops. Trying to get rid of fruit flies on your own can be difficult, so a fruit fly control and prevention program is recommended.

Do not try getting rid of fruit flies on your own as they are very difficult to remove, it’s bets to call in the professionals. If you suspect fruit flies in your home or business, contact Ehrlich at 1-800-837-5520 or fill out the online contact form here.

Where do fruit flies come from?

Fruit flies get their name because of their fondness for the moist surfaces of fruits. They prefer fruit that is fermenting, which occurs the moment you put fruit on a kitchen counter. Fruit flies also like vegetables that are ripening in an open area. Finally, these pests will also gladly accept any leftover scraps of fruit or food that ends up in sink drains, caught in filters or in the garbage.

Fruit flies will lay eggs on the moist areas of fermenting fruit. They can lay up to 500 eggs at a time, which means a fruit fly infestation can happen very fast. The newborn fruit flies feed on the surface of this organic matter, as do the adults.

As for how fruit flies get in the house, they can easily sneak in via groceries or any fruit brought in from outside. Fruit flies can also hitch a ride on fruits and vegetables from your garden, too. Since they are so small as eggs or larvae, you may not see them and once they get inside, they grow to adults, lay more eggs and then become a problem.

How do you get rid of fruit flies?

Ehrlich understands the feeding and nesting habits of fruit flies, so we’ve adapted eradication methods to efficiently get rid of fruit flies and remove fruit fly infestations.. These methods act best as supplements to a fruit fly removal program. They include:

  • Insect Light Traps: Many flies are attracted to certain wavelengths of UV light. This makes insect light traps very effective in attracting and capturing flies once they enter a building.
  • Liquid Residual Insecticides: There are insecticides that work great at eliminating adult flies and larvae. Various liquid pesticides are ideal for only adult flies.
  • Fly Baits: These baits use sugars and fly pheromones to lure flies into the trap.

Ehrlich technicians incorporate the methods listed above with their ERDM approach to ensure your property has long-term protection from fruit flies. ERDM stands for:

  • Exclusion
  • Restriction
  • Destruction
  • Monitoring

How to control fruit flies in restaurants

Getting rid of fruit flies in restaurants reduces food contamination and protects the reputation of your business. With restaurant reviews becoming public on social media, nothing will put a dent in your sales like a customer writing a review about a fruit fly infestation. We understand how valuable a restaurant’s reputation is so that is why we use industry standard solutions to protect your business.

Luminos is our Electronic Fly Killer for our food retailer companies. It’s suitable for a variety of internal work environments and business needs. For restaurants, this is a powerful and hygienic fly killer that can be placed in public areas due to its subdued design. Using one of these electronic fly killers is an effective way to control fruit flies in restaurants.

Fruit fly life cycle

The average fruit fly life cycle begins when the adult fruit fly female lays around 500 eggs near the surface of rotting fruit or vegetables (or poorly attached containers with food inside them). Their eggs hatch in about 30 hours, developing in a vinegar-like liquid, near food sources and eating mostly yeast from rotting produce for 5-6 days.

Before pupation, the larvae crawl to drier areas of the food or elsewhere. Newly adult flies mate in about 2 days and their life cycle is finished in 8-10 days. Flies reproduce quickly so it is important to control a fly infestation as soon as possible.

Fruit fly infestations

The best way to spot a fruit fly infestation is seeing the insects themselves. If you see an adult fruit fly, that typically means its larvae are close by. Fruit flies are most active during the spring and summer but can be active indoors year round given the proper conditions. They are typically brought into homes through produce bought at groceries or food markets. We recommend cleaning food prior to consuming or cooking it to remove any trace.

How to prevent fruit flies

There are many tips home and businesses owners can use to prevent a fruit fly infestation from occurring. More specifically, here are some fruit fly prevention steps we recommend following to ward off fruit flies:

  1. Remove breeding sites for fruit flies is the key. For reproduction, flies need a climate of at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit so refrigerate fruits and vegetables
  2. Wipe down countertops or other food areas after use
  3. Clean out sink or floor drains to remove pieces of food
  4. Remove food or liquid seepage at the bottom of garbage cans
  5. Hire a pest control service to routinely check for signs of a fruit fly infestation

Getting rid of fruit flies fast with Ehrlich

Ehrlich Pest Control service is the most effective way of preventing and treating an existing fruit fly infestation. Our specialists will customize a treatment plan for your needs. For professionals solutions you can rely on, call Ehrlich at 1-800-837-5520 or contact us online.


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