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How to repel fruit flies

Published: Thu, November 22, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m.

Q. I have fruit flies in my kitchen. Everything is covered or in the refrigerator. What can I do to get rid of them?

Elizabeth from Canfield

A. Fruit flies are a common year-round home invader. They just seem to be out in record numbers in late summer through late fall. That’s because one female can lay up to 500 eggs.

Thankfully, their life cycle is only a week long – good news when trying to rid them from the home.

Sometimes called vinegar flies, these insects are tiny, but larger than a gnat. These fruit flies hang out around cut or over-ripe fruits and vegetables in your home.

A favorite gathering point is the trash can where fruit juices or other drinks are fermenting in the bottom even after the trash bag has been removed.

It sounds like Elizabeth has started in the right place – sanitation. Keeping things covered so the flies are not attracted to them is the first step in control.

Next, look for any other items where they might be feeding. Often, it is fruit left in an area outside the kitchen, or more often onions and potatoes that have started to go bad on a shelf or in a drawer.

They can also congregate in other places where juice or sugary drinks were spilled and not completely cleaned up, including in your recycling bin if containers were not thoroughly washed. Remember: Check everywhere.

The most common method of ridding your home of these bothersome insects is by using vinegar – specifically apple cider vinegar. White vinegar attracts them.

Place a few ounces (about one-fourth full) in a small juice glass or other item from the kitchen. Add a drop or two of dish soap, mixing slightly but not stirring. The dish soap will break the surface tension of the vinegar, making the flies sink.

To keep them from escaping before they land on the apple cider vinegar, you can cover the top with clear plastic wrap. Pull it tight across the top of the glass. Use a rubber band to secure it. Poke a few holes in the top to give them access to the vinegar. Depending on the source of the infestation, it can take one to two weeks to eliminate all the flies.

For details, photos of these fruit flies and another trap option, visit http://go.osu.edu/fruitflies.

Eric Barrett is OSU Extension educator for agriculture and natural resources in Mahoning County. Winter hours for the Plant and Pest Diagnostic Clinic vary. Submit questions to the clinic at 330-533-5538 or drop samples off to the extension office, 490 S. Broad St., Canfield.

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