Undaunted by window screens and strangely immune to exuberant bouts of swatting, fruit flies become a real nuisance as soon as the warmer weather arrives. Often found en masse, forming a living cloud around a fresh bowl of fruit, these tiny annoyances will quickly grow their numbers when not dealt with post haste.
Know Thy Enemy
The common fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) is either brought into the home as larvae on the surface of store-bought produce, or, because they are so teeny, they find their way inside in the spaces between the woven mesh of screens.
They are attracted to anything moist and fermented, laying up to 500 eggs at a time on ripened fruits, rotting food, sink drains, empty bottles, and damp rags. The lifespan of the fruit fly is about seven days, though the warmer the weather, the longer they live.
How To Prevent Fruit Flies…
Follow these tips to help prevent a fruit fly infestation from happening in the first place:
1. Wash Your Fruits & Vegetables
As a standard practice, thoroughly washing store-bought produce as soon as you get home will not only remove harmful pesticides from your food, but will also clear away fruit fly eggs that may be hiding on the flesh of your fruits and veggies. Once cleaned, don’t place them back in the bag you received them in at the store – this will risk recontaminating your produce once again.
2. Keep Your Kitchen Clean
Since fruit flies flourish around fermenting foods and moist organics, the best course for prevention is to avoid providing them a hospitable environment in which to feed and breed. This means not leaving dirty dishes, soiled dish cloths, and bits of food in the sink.
Be vigilant and wipe up spilled drinks and food crumbs on your counter, and around your stove, dishwasher, and fridge. Rinse out food and beverage containers before placing them in the recycling bin – especially wine and beer bottles. Wipe down the seals of your fridge, all the way around the door. Put a few spoonfuls of baking soda into your sink’s drain and then pour white vinegar on top to clear out the plumbing pipes.
3. Freeze Your Kitchen Compost
Although you can keep your kitchen compost bucket out in the open during the cooler months without worrying about pests, during the summer you can protect your rotting kitchen scraps from fruit flies by simply placing your organic refuse in a deep freeze.
Accumulate organics in a small container or zippered plastic bag and place it in the freezer between dumpings into your outdoor compost heap. Added bonus: freezing actually aids decomposition by breaking down the cellular walls of foodstuff, which will speed up the composting process once you add it to the pile.
4. Cover Your Fruit Bowls
While setting out a big bowl of fresh fruit on your counter is an excellent way to keep healthy snacks within reach, it has the distinct disadvantage of drawing in these tiny pests. Keep fruit flies away by fitting some plastic wrap over the bowl, or better yet, use reusable silicone lids or a cake dome.