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A terrific way to maintain good health is to stick to a diet chock-full of fruits and vegetables. But few things spoil the appetite more quickly than a cloud of flies lingering over the fruit bowl. Sometimes it seems like these tiny pests are everywhere—in garbage cans, hovering around sink drains, and near potted plants. Fortunately, there are several effective, nontoxic ways to get rid of fruit flies. You can keep them at bay, even during the height of summer, with the following time-tested tips and tricks.
Like so many other household problems, fruit fly infestations can be prevented. We’ll get around to telling you how to get rid of fruit flies after they’ve invaded your living spaces, but first, here’s how to keep them from feeling welcome to begin with:
• Avoid bringing home any fruits or vegetables that are bruised; these often contain fly eggs or larvae.
• Store soft fruits in the refrigerator in a paper bag. (Hard-skinned fruits may be stored in the open, so long as they haven’t ripened to the point of softness.)
• Being that garbage cans and recycling bins are fruit fly breeding grounds, it’s recommended that you empty and clean these containers as often as you can. If possible, do so on a daily basis.
• If you store containers of condiments (for example, ketchup) and cooking essentials like vinegar in your cabinets, make sure to keep the jars’ rims and lids clean. Store these products in the refrigerator if there’s room.
• Wipe down counters and eating surfaces promptly after mealtimes, leaving no food or drink residue.
• If you’d rather not hand-wash dishes and utensils immediately after use, place them in the dishwasher.
• Clean sink drains with a bottle brush and a grease-cutting cleanser, followed by a hot water rinse.
• Launder dish towels and hand towels regularly; dry your mop thoroughly after you’ve finished with it.
• In the summer, use fine-mesh window and door screens to prevent fruit flies from gaining entry.
Oh, no! Despite your best efforts, fruit flies have found their way into your home. You’re surely annoyed, but the situation need not persist. Try this: Fill a small container with a teaspoon of cider vinegar, two tablespoons of water, and a drop or two of fruity-smelling dish soap. Place the container near where the pests have been most active. Although you may need to refresh the trap nightly for a period of three or four days, sooner rather than later you should notice that the fruit fly population has dwindled or disappeared.
Alternatively, drop a piece of rotten fruit into a glass jar. Next, puncture the pointy end of a cone-shaped coffee filter and place the filter on top of the glass jar. Watch as flies pass through the hole to pursue the fruit into the jar only to end up trapped by the filter. Release your prisoners outdoors, repeating the process as often as needed.
An equally effective approach is placing a piece of rotten fruit into a bowl of wine or wine vinegar. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then use a fork to poke very small holes through the plastic. So long as those holes you make aren’t overly large, the flies won’t be able to escape.
Keep in mind, too, that rubbing alcohol kills fruit flies more or less instantly. If things have gotten out of hand—or if you feel like doing a little hunting at home—fill a spray bottle with alcohol and direct it toward any hovering fruit flies you encounter. Don’t get any of the alcohol on your fruit, though—it causes fruit to spoil.