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How to get rid of fruit flies using things you already own

To kill a fly, you must think like a fly.

Fruit flies on an orange Credit: Getty Images

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It doesn’t take much to start a fruit fly infestation in your home. Whether it’s a mushy banana in the pantry or your counter compost bin, these tiny bugs will take any opportunity to set up camp in your kitchen. It only takes about a week for a new generation of fruit flies to spawn, so you can have a small infestation fermenting before you've even taken a swat at your first fly.

So, how do you get rid of fruit flies?

Before you rush out to a hardware store to stock up on traps, consider a few of these do-it-yourself solutions that take advantage of items you probably already have in your house.

Here are some home-grown tactics for how to get rid of fruit flies

Use apple cider vinegar

When it comes to eliminating fruit flies, appealing to the fly's taste for sweetness is the name of the game. Take a small bowl or ramekin of apple cider vinegar, cover it with plastic wrap, and use a fork to poke several holes through the top. Finally, place the bowl near the source of the infestation, or where the flies appear to be congregating.

Don't stop with one bowl, either—set up an armada of them around your sink, trash can, and pantry.

Here are two critical things to remember when crafting your apple cider traps: First, make sure the holes in the plastic wrap aren't too big. You're looking for basic, pinhead-sized holes that will allow the flies to enter but will ultimately be too small for them to grab onto and escape. Second, the plastic wrap needs to be as taut as possible around the side of the bowl, otherwise the flies will just crawl out the side.

The benefit of the vinegar-in-the-bowl technique is its visibility; you're able to check up on the carnage at the end of each day and determine how effective (or ineffective) your traps have been.

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Trap them in a wine bottle

So, you had one too many glasses of pinot and now you're paying for it in the light of day. Open wine bottles on the counter aren't just a reminder of the mistakes you made the previous night, they're a great way to get rid of fruit flies.

Fruit flies will be attracted by the smell of fermented fruits, fly in, and then get trapped due to the wine bottle's narrow neck. Both red and white wine can be used to make this trap, but red wine seems to work better due to its aromatic nature. As long as there's a finger or two of wine in the bottom of the bottle, you're good to go.

As a bonus, in a pinch, you can use wine in place of the apple cider vinegar for the aforementioned apple cider vinegar fruit fly trap.

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Funnel them onto ripe fruit in a jar

Need to get rid of fruit flies but don't like the idea of emptying a bowl full of dead bug soup on the daily? That's understandable! Fortunately, this next can be sealed and/or cleaned with relative ease.

Place a ripe piece of fruit—a tomato, strawberry, or banana slice all work well—into a jar and fashion a cone out of a piece of paper or coffee filter. Next, stuff the cone into the opening of the jar. This paper cone acts like a funnel, directing flies down to the fruit, but they won't be able to navigate their way back out. If you've ever seen the pots used by folks fishing for crabs or lobsters, you get the idea.

Once you've secured a satisfactory amount of these terrible things inside the jar, simply seal it up and freeze it, then wash it out afterwards. Good as new and ready to make a delicious dessert)—just maybe don't tell anyone you're serving that they're eating out of a fly tomb.

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Take preventative measures

Due to the break-neck speed at which these heinous nightmare demons reproduce, it's important to act quickly to definitively get rid of fruit flies.

Staying on top of routine kitchen maintenance is a must.

Staying on top of routine kitchen maintenance is a must, especially in the warmer months when fruit flies thrive.

First, thoroughly rinse out bottles, cans, and containers before adding them to a pile of recyclables. Clean your sink often and pay particular attention to the drain; fruit flies can do pretty well for themselves there, even if all they have to work with is a slightly dirty drainpipe. And lastly, keep a watchful eye on bananas, apples, tomatoes, and any fruits that you don't keep in the fridge. If the food is even remotely close to turning, store it in the fridge or scrap it.

Fruit flies are definitely a menace, but they’re not unstoppable. With these tips, and some preventative kitchen maintenance, you can leave all of your encounters with fruit flies where they belong—in the past.

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