How to get rid of Vinegar Flies, kill the infestation with Drosophila Melanogaster, Nexles

How to get rid of Vinegar Flies

As summer approaches and more fruits become available, the vinegar flies also make an appearance. And if you are a fruit lover, it will be quite a challenge to keep them away from your fruits and vegetables.
Vinegar flies, also known as fruit flies, pomace flies, or wine flies, are a species of small flies that belong to the family Drosophilidae of the genus Drosophilia. All species of flies are well-known due to the tendency they have to effortlessly find ways to enter homes in search of warmth and food. Not only is the constant buzzing they bring along annoying, but their presence is also potentially unsanitary, both due to the bacteria they may carry on their legs and easily transfer onto food or surfaces that food comes in contact with, as well as due to the fact that, if they are unsuccessful in finding a way back outside, they usually die, leaving behind corpses in all places.

Vinegar flies, in particular, are an even bigger nuisance than regular flies, seeing as they are attracted to foods that are rotting or fermenting, creating an even more unpleasant situation and increasing the risk that they may transfer dangerous bacteria onto surfaces that are supposed to be sterile. The most common time of the year that people report encountering problems with vinegar flies is summer, especially towards the end of it, when ripe fruits and vegetables are abundant. Once the cold comes, most flies die, but if you live in a warm climate, they can become an annoyance that is very difficult to stand.

Removing sources of food and shelter

In order to avoid having a vinegar fly infestation that spreads in your whole home, you need to keep in mind the importance of sanitation. Cleaning up your house regularly, especially your kitchen, where fruits and vegetables are mostly found, can help you keep the flies away. As they are mostly attracted to fermenting or rotting fruits and vegetables, make sure you do not provide them with the possibility of finding the food they want.
When buying fresh produce, be sure to wash it, in order to avoid having any fly eggs that can easily hatch and cause a bigger infestation. Vinegar flies have a short life span, 8-10 days from egg to adulthood, so they also reproduce at an alarming rate. By washing the fruits and vegetables you are bringing into your home, you are removing any eggs and larvae that may be just days away from becoming an adult and laying new eggs again. Make sure you also consume the oldest fruits and vegetables, so that you do not give them time to rot or ferment. Should this have already happened, it is better to immediately discard of them, and of the garbage as well. This type of flies lay their eggs in rotten fruit, or other soft, sweet, organic material. As they are also capable of breeding in decaying meat, trash bins and large spills of soda or alcohol, make sure to clean the kitchen thoroughly, avoid having spills on the counter, and take the trash out regularly.

If you are already dealing with an infestation, after throwing away the infested food, it is better to wash the remaining good produce, and store it in the refrigerator, until the infestation disappears. If you do not have any fruits in your kitchen, but are still dealing with an infestation, check the garbage and recycling bins, as flies can also use the unclean drains as a breeding space. If the infestation is outside, it can also be cause by outdoor drains, or overripe fruits fallen beneath trees in your yard.

To be sure you are no longer providing vinegar flies with a food source, make sure to:

  • keep all ripened fruits and vegetables (such as onions, tomatoes, potatoes, etc.) stored away in impenetrable containers or, even better, in the refrigerator;
  • never leave any type of food sitting out over a period of time longer than a couple of hours;
  • make sure there are no damp areas in your house, especially the kitchen and bathroom;
  • maintain your garbage covered;
  • ensure that the bottoms and the sides of your garbage cans are free of any small bits of food or spilled liquid;
  • ensure that all empty cans and bottles that you throw away or plan to recycle are clean before you actually place them in the bin;
  • take the trash outside that same day, if you have thrown away rotting fruits or vegetables;
  • wash your trash bins, as they can harbour fly eggs; wash the indoor and outdoor ones as well, especially during summer months;
  • throw away old sponges, mops, or rags, and any other items that you have continuously used to wipe away fruit fly eggs, as they can also be a breeding environment.
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Natural methods of control

Vinegar flies are notoriously difficult to exterminate entirely. Not only can they lay up to 500 eggs a day on any surface (from fermenting foods and different types of organic materials, to drains, garbage disposal, empty bottles and cans, and even damp mops and sponges), but the entire life cycle from egg to adult only takes between 8-10 days. However, while difficult, this is not impossible.
As is the case with most infestations, the first step that needs to be taken is to eliminate all sources of attraction and all breeding places, turning the environment in your home into an inhospitable one for the pest that you are trying to remove. The methods that you can use to ensure this have already been listed above.

One of the easiest methods you can implement to remove remaining vinegar flies involves trapping them. Here are a couple of homemade traps that are inexpensive and easy to make:

Apple cider vinegar trap

  • simply pour half a cup of apple cider vinegar (which is made out of fermented apples, so the flies will be unable to resist it) into a tall glass or a mason jar;
  • mix in a drop of dish soap, which will be responsible for breaking the water tension and thus not allowing flies to simply rest on top of the water as they feed;
  • roll up a piece of paper and insert it into the mouth of the jar in the form of a makeshift funnel; this will ensure that, while the flies will be attracted to the vinegar and enter the jar, they will not be able to figure out how to exit it, which will increase the chances of them drowning and, thus, the efficiency of the trap;

Fruit trap

  • place a couple of overripe (or almost rotting) fruit into a tall glass or mason jar, and cover the mouth with plastic wrap, before using a toothpick to poke small holes into the wrap;
  • the flies will be drawn into the container, but will be unable to find a way out, which will give you the chance to quickly wash out the glass and get rid of them;

Red wine trap

  • simply make sure to leave a bit of red wine on the bottom of the bottle; the flies will be drawn to it, they will become intoxicated, and they will drown; for added efficiency, you can also place plastic wrap over the rim of the bottle, as instructed above;

Milk, sugar, and pepper trap

  • mix milk, raw sugar, and pepper in a saucepan, allowing the concoction to simmer for 10 minutes; once you pour this into a shallow dish, the flies will be attracted to it and will drown.

Because vinegar flies are known to breed in drains, you can pour a mixture of white vinegar and boiling hot water (ratio of 1:1) daily down your drains (especially the ones in your kitchen). This will help you in keeping the drains clear of any flies that want to lay their eggs there, and thus, you will avoid a further infestation.

Traps for Vinegar Flies control:

Traps are used to monitor or reduce the population of insects or other pests. They can be used against crawling, flying insects, mice, rats, cats, dogs, snakes, etc., and depending on the type of action of the trap, there are several classifications.

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Fruit Flies: Where Do They Come From And How Do You Get Rid Of Them?

Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly, tend to appear around rotten fruit. They’re like our companions in life, and they go where the food is. Although it’s not impossible to get rid of them, there is no foolproof method to keep them away.

A fruit fly has 2 definitions—one for the layman and another for a scientist. For a layman, these bugs are nothing but a nuisance, but for a scientist, these insects have flung open the doors for various types of biological research. While you might just call it a fruit fly, a scientist would call it Drosophila melanogaster, belonging to the taxonomic genus Drosophila. They are harmless and don’t fall under the definition of a pest. While a pest is something that is detrimental to humans, plants or animals, a fruit fly is benign and tends to only be around fruit that has already rotted.

Investigating why flies are attracted to fruit. (Photo Credit : David Kasza/Shutterstock)

This common household fly is widely used in biological research, including genetics and life history evolution. Who would have thought that the vast amount of research done on this tiny little fly could possibly earn 8 Nobel Prizes? One of the main reasons why these flies are so readily used in research is that they’re easy to breed and require a relatively small space. They lay many eggs and have only 4 pairs of chromosomes. A chromosome is a DNA molecule that contains all the genetic information of an organism.

Regardless of the many uses of fruit flies in research, they are definitely annoying, due to their tendency to hover around food items. A common misconception is that fruit flies actually cause fruit to rot, but that’s not the case; they simply have an affinity for fruit that is already rotting.

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Where do fruit flies come from?

A long time ago in the early 1800s, a German entomologist named Johann Wilhelm Meigen suggested that the common fruit fly must have originated in Sub-Saharan Africa. Around 10,000-15,000 years ago, these flies are said to have expanded from Africa to Europe and Asia. No matter what part of the world you call home, you are bound to find these tiny flies.

Fruit flies usually occur spontaneously, so there’s no way to determine exactly how the first fly entered your home. They are able to smell food from almost a mile away and due to their tiny structure, they are able to easily enter the walls through crevices. The tiny antennae atop their head allow them to smell chemicals, such as acetic acid, which is present in rotting fruit. You never really see a single fruit fly, as they are almost always in a group. This is because of their super-fast life cycle; they are able to lay 100 eggs, which can hatch into maggots in less than 24 hours!

Life-cycle of a fruit fly. (Photo Credit : Protasov AN/Shutterstock)

The exact origin of these flies is still unknown, but research shows that they are specifically attracted to aromatic substances, which signal the fly’s antennae that this fruit might be a good place to start laying eggs. Not only the fruit itself, but also the microbes present on the fruit are sources of food for these flies. Research shows that these fruit flies inhabit the fruit at a particular time during the decay life cycle of the fruit.

Drosophila on a ripe banana. (Photo Credit : SUPAPORNKH/Shutterstock)

As such, it’s not possible to pinpoint their origin, but we know that they are present anywhere human inhabitation is found.

How do you get rid of fruit flies?

One of the most common ways to get rid of any flying insect or fly is to smack them with a flyswatter. It’s a swift solution and generally provides the desired results. However, it’s not easy smacking down one of these swift flyers. They have a 270-degree range of vision and are basically able to see in all directions. This gives them fast reflexes, allowing them to plan their escape within 100 milliseconds, leaving you perplexed and even more irritated.

Also, if you think using your bare hands will be your secret weapon, don’t count on it. These tiny flying wizards are able to change directions within one-hundredth of a second, far faster than your amateur ninja hunting skills.

However, don’t lose hope! There are many other ways to get rid of fruit flies, some of which are more sophisticated than the smacking technique. Fruit flies are attracted to sugary substances present in fruits and wine. A simple technique to trap these flies is to lure them into a bottle filled with all of their favorite sweet items. You can trap them with the help of paper funnels. For this, all you need is tall jar or a wine bottle, which you can fill with any sugary items, including chopped pieces of ripped and rotting fruits, honey or maple syrup.

The paper funnel method. (Photo Credit : nkula/Shutterstock)

Next, roll a piece of paper to create a funnel, allowing the flies to easily enter the jar. Set up this jar close to the kitchen sink or any place that is most likely to be infested with fruit flies. Leave the bottle overnight and the next day you will see the flies happily feasting on the bait you set out for them. Now, simply add some warm water with detergent to get rid of the flies. You might have to repeat the process several times, as the flies do lay many eggs.

Adult fruit flies may be dealt with using an aerosol insecticide, but a good way to get rid of the eggs is to use a filter trap.

It’s not possible to permanently eradicate these flies, as they survive as long as there’s a source of food, but using the above method might help reduce their numbers.

Regardless of the nuisance that they are, it must be noted that these flies are widely used as model organisms for study in biological research.

Why are fruit flies used as model organisms?

Performing scientific experiments can be a lengthy and tedious process. Having an organism that can quickly regenerate and use less space is a huge bonus when selecting a model organism. A model organism is any non-human species that is widely studied to understand biological phenomena. Drosophila melanogaster is the perfect model organism due to its rapid regeneration and short life span. Fruit flies require minimal food or resources to start growing. All you need are some mashed up fruit and the flies will appear within a couple days!

Fruit flies used in research. (Photo Credit : Chu Xiaolu/Shutterstock)

Another important aspect of these flies is that they can be genetically manipulated. As mentioned earlier, they have only 4 pairs chromosomes, as compared to the 23 pairs possessed by humans. The genes of the fruit fly can therefore be easily mapped to better understand the presence of any genetic transfers that might occur at the DNA level. Many of the Drosophila genes are similar to those of humans, suggesting that they originate from a common ancestor. Some of the shared genes are associated with various diseases that occur in humans, which makes research and investigation more streamlined and adds to the value of fruit flies in research.

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Conclusion

Fruit flies are our natural companions; they go where humans go and humans can’t go without food. Basically, we’re stuck with these creatures, so we may as well get used to it. Cleaning the fruits as soon as you get back from the market can be one way to help reduce their presence. Although there are some ways to get rid of them, there is not a permanent solution, which is probably a good thing, since fruit flies represent such a critical model organism for further study!

References

About the Author :

Aditi Thombre has completed her Masters in Biotechnology from University of Mumbai. Currently, she is studying law in University of Mumbai. In her free time, she enjoys spending her day reading and watching true-crime series. She loves learning Spanish and sometimes ends up having conversations with herself! To break the monotonous cycle of life she explores new places and restaurants.

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Why fruit flies are so hard to kill

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: It’s like they have magical powers. When the weather warms, fruit flies just appear. Out of nowhere. Next to the fruit bowl, near the trash, everywhere. And once they arrive, they are determined to stay no matter how many you swat, squash, or seize. Now as far as we know, fruit flies can’t teleport into our homes from another grosser dimension. So where do they come from, and why are they so hard to get rid of?

Meet Drosophila melanogaster: your standard fruit fly. It can smell a meal from more than a kilometer away all thanks to the tiny antennae on top of its head. These antennae are specially attuned to sniff out chemicals like acetic acid let off by rotting fruit, and once they’re locked on to the scent, it’s nearly impossible to keep them out of your home. That’s because fruit flies are about the size of a sesame seed, so they can slip through almost any crack, screen, or gap. But contrary to popular belief, it’s not just the smelly fruit they’re after. They’re also hunting for the source of that rotting stench, specifically, fungi and other microorganisms. Yum!

And once they land for the feast, things turn even nastier. You know how you never see just one fruit fly? That’s because they have incredibly fast life cycles. A single female fruit fly can lay up to 100 eggs a day, which hatch in less than 24 hours. The maggots then tunnel under the fruit skin, feeding on the microbial rot. In just a few days later, they pupate into fully fledged fruit flies. By the time day 11 or 12 rolls around, they’re ready to have little maggots of their own. Aww. That’s why your home can go from fruit-fly free to infested in under two weeks.

Now, by this point you might start swatting them down one by one. But it’s not so easy, right? Perhaps even. fruitless? Well, scientists have discovered why. Turns out fruit flies are mathematical wizards of escape. For starters, they have around 270-degree vision, so they can see you coming from almost any angle: front, back, or side to side, and they will actually calculate the angle of your attack and plan their escape accordingly all in as little as 100 milliseconds. Scientists figured this out because of how a resting fruit fly will reposition its legs when it senses an attack. If your hand’s coming from the front, for example, fruit flies move their middle legs forward, lean back, and raise their legs, allowing for a fast backwards takeoff.

Once in midair, killing them isn’t much easier. They can change directions within one one-hundredth of a second and quickly accelerate by flapping their wings 200 times per second. Not bad for a brain that’s even smaller than a house fly’s. So then, how do you get rid of them? Some experts suggest making a trap. Fill a container with 2 centimeters of cider vinegar, cap it with a funnel, and then tape around the perimeter so that no flies can crawl out. You see, fruit flies are smart enough to find fruit but not the hole they entered.

But here’s the thing. Even if you trap every last fly, they will come back as long as there’s something to eat. And unfortunately for you, fruit flies aren’t picky. They love rotten fruit, sure, but wine and other fermented liquids, which are chock-full of those microbes they adore, are also tasty, as is the slime that builds up in your kitchen sink. So really, the only thing you can do to get rid of them is to, well, clean up.

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