One day, you reach for a piece of fruit you’ve left out in a fruit basket, and there’s no problem. The next day, you’re swarmed by gnat-like fruit flies as you lift out the fruit. And once they’ve infested your home, fruit flies are some of the most difficult household bugs to get rid of.
So where do they come from?
The Life of a Fruit Fly
To understand how fruit flies can get into your home and how they can quickly spread, you first need to understand the biology of these household bugs.
Fruit flies feed off fermenting foods, and they lay their eggs near the surface of these foods, such as tomatoes, grapes, melons, bananas, and potatoes. Virtually any ripe fruit or vegetable you can think of can attract fruit flies as it gradually becomes overripe and begins the process of rotting and fermentation.
Fruit flies can also be attracted to garbage cans, garbage disposals, empty bottles and cans, dirty mops and cleaning rags, and drains—anywhere where they can find a little fermenting material.
Fruit Flies only take about eight days to develop from egg to adult, and they lay about 500 eggs when they reproduce—so it’s easy to see how your kitchen can suddenly be swarmed by fruit flies.
How They Get Inside
Fruit flies can smell ripe fruits and vegetables from a considerable distance, and attracted by that smell, they will enter your home though the tiniest of openings to get at the food you’ve left out.
If you have a garden, you may bring fruit fly larvae inside with fruits and vegetables you pick. This is one of the reasons why fruit flies are more prevalent in late summer and fall—that’s when there are the most fruits and vegetables reaching ripeness. You also can bring fruit fly larvae in on well-ripened produce you buy from the grocery store.
Fighting Fruit Flies
Fruit flies are generally just a pain, flying around you and ruining produce, but they can spread disease by contaminating food with bacteria. To keep your home free of fruit flies, follow these common-sense guidelines:
- Seal off all openings into your home, such as holes in screens.
- Don’t leave overripe fruit sitting around—either eat it, put it in the refrigerator, or throw it away.
- Don’t leave fermentable food in indoor trash cans.
- Remove any food in your pantry (e.g., an old potato or onion) that’s begun to rot.
- Check for spills of juice, wine, or other fermentable liquid under the refrigerator or other out-of-sight areas.
Photo Credit: Fruit