British Columbia

Fruit flies and how to get rid of them in your home

You've probably seen them buzzing around your kitchen appearing seemingly out of nowhere and stubbornly refusing to cede their territory. Here are three tips for temporary relief.

3 tips from a pest control expert on how to eliminate these prolific breeders

In British Columbia, fruit flies have been confirmed infesting wild and cultivated raspberry and blackberry, blueberry, strawberry, cherry, peach, nectarine, apricot and plum crops, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. (Jared Belson)

You've probably seen them buzzing around your kitchen  appearing seemingly out of nowhere and stubbornly refusing to cede their territory.

They are fruit flies, and this year B.C.'s warm and longer than usual growing season have only made the problem worse by providing the pesky insects with ideal survival conditions.

Whether you've brought home fruit already covered in eggs, or whether the prevalent pests have come in through an open window, it can be nearly impossible to get rid of them once they're there.

"They are a very strong flier, and they are designed every which way to find their way into your kitchen," said Mat Neale, senior pest management technician with Solutions Pest Control.

"They're looking for moistured areas that they can lay their eggs in and overripe fruit that they can feed from. You betcha, they will find it.

"The little compost container on your counter these days? They will absolutely find that too."

So what can you do about it? Here is Neale's advice. 

1. Homemade traps

Mat Neale is the senior pest control technician for Solutions Pest Control. (Charlie Cho/CBC)

Neale says do-it-yourself remedies can help provide temporary reprieve from fruit flies, so long as you're vigilant about maintaining and cleaning them.

"You do have to make sure that you clean it out regularly, as they will start breeding inside the trap as well," he said.

For example, you could fill a small bowl with balsamic vinegar, cover it with plastic wrap, and poke tiny holes in it with a toothpick. 

Fruit flies will be able to find their way in, but will have more trouble getting back out.

2. Remove their food source

Fruit flies will find their way to any overripe fruit and are particularly drawn to compost and garbage bins.

Rather than invest in screens or other devices to keep them out of those areas, Neale recommends emptying those bins every day and removing any overripe fruit and leftover food.

"Locking them out of any kind of container is, well, a little futile.  They can get into pretty much everything," said Neale.

3. Eliminate moisture

While it's important to make sure they don't have a place to feed, you should also make sure they don't have a place to breed, said Neale, who said he's seen fruit flies appearing in places with no food sources. 

Fruit flies prefer to lay their eggs in moist areas, he said, adding that the presence of fruit flies can actually indicate a leak, perhaps in your household plumbing. 

"They get into this slimy sludge in drains, maybe clogged drain traps," Neale said.

"Probably the most effective thing to do, and what I usually tell people ... is to actually dry the environment out."

Neale recommends setting up fans and removing any kind of stagnant water in your home environment.

But Neale stresses that even with all of these tips, it's nearly impossible to find a permanent solution.

They're prolific breeders that occur naturally in the environment and play an important role in macro decomposition, and so there's really no foreseeable end to the kitchen battle between humans and fruit flies, he said.

"They'll always keep me employed, that's for sure."

To hear the full interview with Mat Neale, listen to the audio labelled: Fruit fly vs human, how to win the kitchen battle.