If you love farm fresh produce as much as I do, you’ll probably experience the occasional fruit fly epidemic. I recently experienced an invasion of epic scale, so I did some digging and I was going to try out all the different traps I found, but the first one I tried was so completely effective that I stopped there. This super simple homemade fruit fly trap recipe will clear your kitchen in no time!
Before we get to the recipe let’s talk about how fruit fly invasions happen and how to prevent them. In my case, I got a bag of onions from a friend’s farm. A couple of them turned out to be a little on the ripe side and probably had a fruit fly or two already hanging around. My biggest mistake was that I did not take the onions out of the bag and rinse them or store them in a way where they would ripen more slowly.
When you get produce, always clean it and store it appropriately –refrigerate or put in a dry cool space depending on the type of produce. If you need a good produce wash read my post about Soap Nuts. Keep your kitchen clean, and your trash free from rotting and over-ripe foods. If you see signs of fruit flies, search for the source immediately and clear it out.
I am going to give you two main options for traps: a kill trap and a catch and release style trap. Both will have a couple variations that you can try out to suit your needs. I didn’t do a catch and release. I would for some little critters, but I didn’t have that much empathy for the fruit flies, to be honest. Also, it’s cold here so they’d probably just die anyway. Based on their attraction to my concoction I think they at least had a good final meal before they went. Hopefully, they did not suffer much!
Basic vinegar fruit fly trap
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is the most widely used bait for fruit fly traps. It seems the little buggers just can’t resist its tangy kick. There are many homemade fruit fly trap recipes and tips. I will describe some different options, but first I will tell you about the easiest one that I found, which just happened to be very effective!
- A container with an open top (I used a small jam jar)
- 1-2 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
- A drop of soap
How it works
Pour a bit of ACV into the bottom of the jar or container you’ve selected. Then put a single drop of soap into the vinegar. The soap is vital to the recipe because it breaks the surface tension of the vinegar. Without the soap the flies will be able to sit right on top of the vinegar and enjoy a nice meal, so don’t leave the soap out.
Personally, I used an unfiltered ACV, just because that is what I had on hand, and I used a citrus scented dish soap, again because it is what I have. You don’t need any special ingredients just use whatever you have around the house. ACV is preferred but if you don’t have any you can try some other options including wine or juice. Some sodas work very well too. Before I set up my trap I had a lemon-lime soda that was attracting some flies. Mostly you want something sweet smelling. I think my use of a citrus-scented soap may have increased the attraction of the pests.
As you can see, I did not cover the jar at all. I just left it out in my kitchen to see what would happen. It was like magic, they were immediately attracted and I had 5 dead within a half hour. In fact, I had to wave some off to get my initial pictures, which was only a few seconds after I set it up!
I was going to take a picture of the end result, but frankly, it was pretty gross, and I didn’t want to subject you to that. Let’s just say the liquid mixture was pretty much full of the corpses of fruit flies. It was a massacre. Since my fruit fly problem was really bad (the worst I’ve ever dealt with) I redid the mixture every day for about 3 days and left the last one out for a few days to catch the stragglers.
I also set about clearing out any questionable produce from my trash bin, my refrigerator, and my pantry. Then I did a deep clean of my kitchen. It took about a week to clear them out, but this was a pretty massive infestation. Another good tip is, don’t leave produce around when you’re planning to be away from home for even a couple of days. You never know what you’ll come home to!!
You can build off this basic recipe by adding a plastic wrap covering to trap the flies in, or by creating a paper cone for the same purpose. I did not find it necessary to do this as the open jar method worked quite quickly.
To use the plastic wrap: simply cover the jar with plastic and use a rubber band to hold in place. Poke holes with a pin so the flies can get in. I don’t recommend this for two reasons. First, this would reduce the smell that can escape the jar to attract the flies. Second, accidental plastic pollution is a major problem in the world, so I try to avoid using plastic wherever possible.
For the paper cone version: take a regular piece of paper and roll it into a cone with a small opening at the bottom (about a half inch). Make sure the cone will sit securely on the rim of the jar with no gaps and the bottom will not reach the liquid. Supposedly this cone will allow the flies in, but not out. I am not really sure how this works and it seems totally unnecessary to me.
Catch and release
For those of you who just can’t bear the guilt of killing, there are catch and release methods available. The same basic method applies, but you will want to choose a bait that won’t drown the little guys.
What you need
- A jar or container
- A piece of ripe (the riper the better) fruit or produce
- 1 piece of paper
- 1 piece of tape or other adhesive
Grab some junk mail or another piece of paper you have lying around, and make a cone shape. Create your paper cone by simply rolling a piece of paper into a cone shape, leaving a small opening of about a half inch or so, at the bottom. The key to this is that the cone must sit just right on the top of the jar to seal the edges, and must leave some room at the bottom for the bait. Use tape or other adhesive to secure your cone once you have the desired shape.
How it works
After you have your cone ready, simply add the piece of fruit and let it sit until the fruit flys go in for their meal. They will just have to hang out there until you decide it’s time to relocate them to the outside world. All you have to do when you are ready is take the jar outside–carefully so that you don’t move the cone and release the flies early–and remove the cone. Your fruit flies will have a full belly and the fresh air to thank you for.
The variation on this one would be to try using the plastic wrap instead of the paper cone. My preference is still the paper because I try to avoid plastic use.
I hope this post has given you all the tools you need to combat fruit fly infestations! Please leave comments below to tell what you have tried and what worked and did not work when it came to fruit flies.