Even the most meticulous homeowner will see the occasional fruit fly. An adult female can lay hundreds of eggs at a time, meaning an infestation can happen before you realize there’s a problem. Once you realize there’s a growing population, it’s time to reach for the fruit-fly traps.
For an easy-to-use and effective fruit-fly trap, a favorite is Aunt Fannie’s FlyPunch. Setup is as easy as opening the lid, and the formula is free of harsh chemicals, making it the perfect option for homes with children and pets.
Fruit flies are one of the most common household pests. At around 3 to 4 millimeters, the adults have a tan thorax and the abdomen is split with black on top and gray on the underside. They can have either dark or red eyes and typically appear brownish when seen flitting around your kitchen.
The diet of an adult fruit fly consists of ripened produce and products that have entered the fermentation process. The numbers tend to grow most significantly in the summer and fall, however you’ll see fruit flies during every season of the year under the right circumstances.
Their reproduction can happen quickly. Once eggs have been laid, larvae will start to develop rapidly, especially in moist areas with organic material and standing water. The typical life cycle lasts 25 days or more depending on the conditions in the environment and the availability of food.
A fruit fly will go through four stages during the life cycle. First, eggs are planted. If the conditions are right, these eggs hatch and transition to the larval stage. Soon, the larvae grow, moving into the pupal stage. Finally, they mature into the adult fruit flies you see flying around the room. The early stages only take a few days and full development from egg to adult can happen within a week if the conditions are ideal. From there, they can live up to 30 days.
The key to controlling the number of fruit flies in your house is prevention. It’s far easier to prevent an outbreak than it is to control it once the population has boomed. To prevent a fruit fly population from taking hold in your home, you must first understand where they will be most likely to breed.
Because of their natural attraction to sweet, ripened and fermented produce, they will often choose your exposed fruit and produce to breed. While this is the first place most people think of in terms of fruit fly breeding, there are a few other places to keep an eye on. Any left-out decaying meat is as susceptible as your fruit. Fruit flies will also target places where food is disposed of, like your trash bins or drains. Finally, should you spill a sugary liquid, it can quickly become a breeding ground for fruit flies, especially if it’s soda or alcohol.
There are some habits you can adopt to give you the best chance of preventing an infestation. Start by always storing produce in the refrigerator, even if it doesn’t need it. Get in the practice of regularly wiping down and cleaning your countertops and be sure to clean up any spills immediately. Also be sure to regularly empty your trash bins and clean your drains.
But even though you take precautions, an outbreak of fruit flies can still happen. If it does, there are several things to do to control it. First, you should identify and remove the material they are using for feeding and breeding. Remember, they often lay their eggs in over-ripened, rotting fruit or produce that has been damaged. However, a fruit fly can lay their eggs successfully in any soft, moist, organic material.
From there, check your drains and trash bins. Because fruit flies are drawn to any organic material, that which you’ve disposed of is still fair game. While you may not be able to completely dispose of these breeding sites, there are ways to treat and clean them.
With the areas for breeding and feeding removed, you can treat the remaining population. To do this, you’ll need a couple of products: fly traps and insecticide. Of these two, fly traps will be the tool that will have the longest and most notable impact on any remaining fruit flies roaming your home.
There are three primary styles of fly traps: fly paper or tape, UV traps and container traps. Fly paper or tape is exactly what it sounds like: a strip of paper or tape that attracts and catches flies. It’s covered in an adhesive that has an attractant to lure the flies to it, encouraging them to land. Once landed, the adhesive traps them and they will slowly starve to death. Some fly paper also has insecticide incorporated in the formula for a quicker death. It’s best used indoors, is easy to replace and uses no electricity or messy liquid bait.
UV traps are a more high-tech option that many homeowners prefer. Rather than relying on a liquid bait, they attract the fruit flies with UV light. As the fly becomes curious, they fly closer, eventually making an attempt to land on the UV light. At this point, there is usually an electrical current that zaps them, electrocuting them and killing them instantly. While these require a constant stream of electricity and tend to be pricier, they are a great option for indoor use and tend to be more aesthetically pleasing.
Container traps are a versatile option, with size and design options that work well both indoors and outdoors. They work by carrying a cache of liquid bait, attracting the nearby fruit flies. Once the flies crawl in, they are trapped, either by the design of the trap or by an additional layer of sticky fly paper. These use no power, are very affordable and are extremely low-maintenance. Once you set the trap in the right place, you can forget about it for several days at a time. They do require you to clean them out occasionally and you may need several to make an impact on the population.
When deciding which fruit-fly trap to choose for your home and infestation, it’s important to keep a couple of things in mind: the size of the infestation, the visibility of the trap and the ease of use.
First, consider how big your infestation is. If you’ve only seen one or two flies, you will want to use a different trap than what you’d use for a full-blown horde. That being said, if you have a large infestation, you may want to take a multi-pronged approach, including multiple container traps, a UV trap and fly paper.
Certain types of fruit-fly traps are more noticeable than others. Most paper traps are a bright shade of yellow, especially garish against a more neutral background. UV traps tend to blend into a home’s decor more easily, though they give off the glare of a UV light. On the other hand, container traps tend to be easy to hide and inconspicuous, though some rely on liquid bait that gives off an unpleasant odor.
The goal of a fruit-fly trap is to easily and quickly eradicate your population of fruit flies. If they aren’t easy to use and maintain, they will simply add an additional chore to your life. Consider how easy they are to empty, as you’ll have to do this, regardless of the type of trap you choose. If they are reusable, you could find yourself spending more time than you’d like maintaining them, but you’ll spend less in the long run.
Reusable traps are an effective, cost-efficient way to handle a fruit fly infestation. They will cost you less in the long run, especially when you compare them to disposable traps, and they are better for the environment. That said, they require you to spend time and energy emptying and maintaining them.
Especially important for indoor traps is a nontoxic formula. Because your traps will be around your home, using a nontoxic fruit-fly trap will protect you from any accidental exposure to chemicals. If you have pets or children, this is even more important. They will likely get curious about the traps and should they touch one, you’ll want the reassurance they will be safe.
Setting up your fruit-fly traps shouldn’t be a hassle. Many pre-filled options are available, allowing you to simply unpackage them and put them in place before forgetting about them for a few days. Other traps require you to occasionally fill them with liquid bait or replace the tape paper. This should be straightforward and create as little mess as possible.
The larger the capacity on your chosen fruit-fly trap, the less often you’ll be emptying it out or replacing it. The capacity refers to how many fly carcasses the trap can hold. Ideally, you want one with a large capacity so you can ignore your traps on a day-to-day basis, rather than including them in your daily chores.
Most fruit-fly traps cost $5-$20, depending on the style of trap you choose and the amount of traps you get. Some come in sets, which impacts the price.
A. The first thing to do is eliminate the resources that are maintaining the population. That includes any over-ripe produce or other organic material they could be relying on. Then, clean the breeding sites thoroughly using an insecticide. Finally, set up fruit-fly traps near these breeding sites to trap as many flies as possible.
A. If you choose the appropriate fruit-fly trap for the size of infestation you’re dealing with, fruit-fly traps are definitely effective. They rely on some form of bait to attract the flies, then use either insecticide, electricity or the design of the trap to kill the adult flies that give in to the bait. This will prevent more of the adult females from laying eggs and perpetuating the population.
What you need to know: Combining a super-simple design and setup with an effective nontoxic formula, this is a highly-praised fly trap that works well with most infestations.
What you’ll love: Setup for this trap is incredibly easy. Simply open the top and place the jar near a breeding site. From there, all you have to do is switch out the jar every 30 days or as needed. It’s even safe to use in food prep areas and near where you eat.
What you should consider: Because the jar has a wide mouth, it can be easier to spill than other models of fly traps.
What you need to know: At less than $3 per trap, these aren’t just an affordable option — they’re one of the most highly rated on the market.
What you’ll love: Using a non-staining bait to lure in fruit flies, these are ready to use straight out of the package. With a built-in window, you can easily keep track of the bait level and how many flies you’ve caught.
What you should consider: These are specifically for indoor infestations and won’t work well outdoors.
What you need to know: Complete with a safe, non-toxic formula, these are incredibly easy to set up so you can start tackling your fruit fly problem as soon as possible.
What you’ll love: These pre-filled fruit-fly traps are perfect for a set-it-and-forget-it approach to fruit fly extermination. Each trap lasts about 30 days and uses a recently overhauled, non-toxic formula that’s safe around kids, food and pets.
What you should consider: You have to wait 48 hours before you start seeing an impact on the population.
Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Kasey Van Dyke writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.