Fruit Flies: Where They Come From and How to Banish Them
Ugh. Fruit flies — so annoying. All it takes is one forgotten banana or neglected tomato and suddenly the airspace in your kitchen is more crowded than O’Hare on a holiday weekend. The little flying pests seem to arrive and multiply out of nowhere, leaving you wondering where, exactly, they come from and what is the best (and fastest!) way to get rid of them.
Let’s take those questions one at a time.
1. Where fruit flies come from: Female fruit flies lay their eggs on just-ripening produce — like fruits and some vegetables, fresh from the grocery store. Then as the fruit continues to ripen and, eventually, rots, the eggs hatch and the fruit flies (adult and baby) burrow into your apple or peach — or potato or onion — in search of the bacteria and yeast they need to feed on. Fruit flies, which prefer warm, moist environments and have a natural lifespan of about 40 to 50 days, reproduce quickly; it takes only one week for them to reach sexual maturity. And a single pair of fruit flies can produce hundreds of little baby flies in a matter of just two weeks, and then, within a week, those offspring can produce babies, and so on, and so on, until your kitchen is fruit-fly crazytown and you’re tempted to contact air traffic control.
2. How to get prevent and get rid them: If you’re feeling uneasy about the idea of unhatched larvae on the surface of your fresh fruit, don’t worry. A quick wash should rinse them away, before fruit becomes overripe and the larvae burrow in. For deeper, more systemic prevention, you should eat fruit before it over-ripens or pitch it before it rots; keep counters, sinks, drains, garbage disposals, garbage cans, food storage areas, compost bins, stovetops and other kitchen areas clean; and don’t let dirty dishes, dishrags, sponges or mops sit around (clean and replace them regularly).
You can also banish the pesky wee bugs with this handy fruit-fly trap. It’s simple to make, requiring only three ingredients — apple cider vinegar, a piece of white paper and a drop or two of liquid dish soap — but surprisingly effective. Good luck!