I have a confession to make.

I was lazy, I didn't think it would cause any harm, but it did. And now they are back. The fruit flies have taken over my kitchen, and I need help fighting them.

Story: I was preparing a must for homebrewing a batch of forest fruit wine. This all went well, the wine began fermenting and I was left with 4lb of warm soggy fruit mush. I tactically decided that the best place to dispose of this was in my inside kitchen bin. Naturally the next morning I woke up to discover hundreds and hundreds of fruit flies in my kitchen, feasting on the fly-superfood in my bin.

Question: What is the best method of killing/removing the fruit flies from my kitchen? I have already emptied, cleaned, and sterilised the offending bin, but the flies seem to be okay with not having a food source anymore. Will they eventually leave/die from lack of food? Can I drive them out with a smell or incense? Should I just commit mass insecticide and sweep them up afterwards?

Thanks :)


15 Answers 15


As I’ve recently tried to much success, sucking the bastards with a vacuum cleaner is easy, fast, ruthlessly efficient, and unlike sticky liquid contraptions, it doesn’t carry the risk of accidentally turning into a food source for the flies.

  • 8
    I've done this before. It works, but it makes a gory mess just inside the nozzle, ha!
    – BlackThorn
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 15:18
  • Thanks for this comment. I've chosen to accept this as the answer as it was the most effective method for quickly removing the fruit flies! I set a dastardly trap using the cider-vinegar-jar trick from other comments, and then going mental with the hoover. It was also a lot of fun!
    – Korthalion
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 8:52
  • 1
    this sounds fun Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 15:34
  • 2
    Vacuum with water mode is even better, drowning had this peculiar effect of preventing escape of commando fruit flies. In my case classic vacuuming only caused unnatural selection of strongest flies...
    – PTwr
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 13:47
  • @PTwr Wow. I never had any flies escape, I guess it depends on the complexity of the guts of the vacuum cleaner. Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 14:24

Fruit fly trap !

Mason jar fruit fly catcher originally found at: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/a9/89/ea/a989ea91a188ee0c61d937dca9c0e0ea.jpg

Put some strong smelling vinegar, like apple cider vinegar, in a glass and make the trap by making a cone with a sheet of paper. The strong sweet smell will attract them and they won't be able to get out of the glass.

  • 27
    One thing to add, I've found that adding a dollop of dish soap to the vinegar kills them much quicker - since it desiccates them on contact. The trap is hands-down the best, cheapest, low-effort way to get rid of them.
    – Knetic
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 21:39
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    Instead of paper (which you may not be able to fit snugly in all containers, especially small and inconspicuous traps like espresso cups), I have found that cling film with a small hole does the trick too.
    – Sanchises
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 8:37
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    Thanks for this comment! I used this idea in tandem with a hoover attachment with ruthless efficiency :)
    – Korthalion
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 8:48
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    @Knetic I don't know about a desiccating effect, but for sure the dish soap will reduce surface tension of the vinegar and let the fruit flies drown more quickly (instead of landing on the liquid surface).
    – Dubu
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 11:10
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    I you add dish soap, you don't even need the funnel. As has been commented before, the reduced surface tension will make the flies drown before they can escape. Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 11:42

The few times that it happened to me the simple method was:

  1. Remove anything that can be food, especially fruit. Put it in closed containers, in the fridge etc.

  2. Wait. They don't live long and just die off. That can be as fast as one day, probably because of the lack of food. (Surprisingly, their average natural life span in optimal temperatures is 40 to 50 days, but I have never experienced that. I'm living in a moderate climate).

If you want to hasten step 2, use a towel to kill as many as you can. In the absence of food, they tend to land on window panes. Just slap them with the towel.

I have also used a bowl with some fruit peels, left it standing overnight. The following morning place a lid or plate over it, and move it all outside where they'll escape. The trick is placing the plate very quickly, before they have a chance to fly off indoors.

  • 4
    Rather than a plate, use cling foil with some holes poked in. Which makes a fruit-fly trap as described above.
    – Erik
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 12:35
  • @Erik That's what Basil wrote. Don't repeat please.
    – user34961
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 12:54
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    @JanDoggen Erik pointed out a way in which your answer can be improved. The fact that someone else also put that improved idea in an answer doesn't change that. It's not really fair to shut down constructive criticism of your answer in the way. If you're averse to any repetition at all, you can always just reference someone else's answer in yours.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 15:10
  • Note that fruit flies are resistant to alcohol. They actually use it to fend off parasites. So remove almost empty bottles too. Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 1:02
  • An addendum to 1: if your fermenting wine is still present, move it somewhere else. The escaping CO2 from the fermentation process is extremely attractive to fruit flies (at least while they're flying, according to the latest research) and will cause them to congregate nearby.
    – Jules
    Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 6:37

Removing whatever it is that they were attracted to is the first step. The second is making traps for them:

  1. Find a small container with a tight fitting lid. (I like the ones you get for dipping sauces or other condiments at take-out places)
  2. Poke holes in the lid of the container. They should be large enough for the flies to crawl through, but not large enough for them to fly through.
  3. Put a little bit of a sweet smelling liquid in the container (I like apple cider vinegar, but I've been told beer works, too)
  4. Put on the lid, and place near the trash can and anywhere you've seen them migrate to (eg, they like sinks)

You'll end up catching a lot of flies. After a day or so, you might want to dump the containers out and add new liquid. It might take a week to get rid of all of them, but you'll have it significantly reduced within a day.

  • 7
    It also helps to put a drop of dish soap in the liquid, it breaks the surface tension and more easily traps the flies.
    – tkmckenzie
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 13:33
  • 2
    If you don't have a container, you can also use a drinking glass with plastic wrap. Same deal, cider vinegar (or fly superfood rotting fruit) in the cup, plastic wrap on top, poke holes in the wrap just big enough for flies to crawl through. Make sure the wrap is tight around the glass or the flies will crawl out; I use a bit of scotch tape.
    – stannius
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 15:10
  • This method works but I didn't consider what I'd do with a jar full of flies. I wanted the jar back but didn't want to open it and get flies everywhere. So I drowned them by pouring water through the hole I poked. It was very slow and depressing to watch. In hindsight, I should've just released them far away outside...
    – jmathew
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 18:03
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    @jmathew you can put the jar in the freezer for 20 minutes. The flies will slowly drift off to sleep.
    – stannius
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 18:52
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    @jmathew : when I've done it, they drowned. Maybe it's because I'm using smaller containers, so there's not a lot of space for them to fly around in there. And the condiment cups are small enough that you can leave one near each of the places they pop up (somehow, they found their way to my bathroom sink, too)
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 1:11

Try adding a few carnivorous plants that feast on flies not too far away from your fruit bowl:

Nepenthes Ventrata

A Nepenthes Ventrata, for instance, requires regular watering and temperatures in the 15-25C range, but is an otherwise fairly low maintenance plant.

  • 5
    Haha, I like this answer, +1 for obscurity! Sadly though I don't have the room to care for a plant as majestic as this one :(
    – Korthalion
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 8:54
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    I've never had one, but my understanding is that Venus Flytraps usually catch the bigger kinds of flying insects (such as larger flies or ladybugs), plus the occasional crawler (like cockroaches). But they're limited in that they can only eat as many insects as they've leaves. Pitcher plants, by contrast, will gobble up anything that falls into their traps - including toads and rats for the larger varieties. Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 12:57
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    @stannius: It's no big deal when there's no regular insect supply. The usual winter advice is to just leave your pitchers as is. They slow their growth down when winter leaves them with low amounts of light and/or food. Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 21:07
  • 2
    @JanDoggen "do you make this up?" is not a terribly respectful way to phrase that question. You could stop at "have you tried this?" if you feel it needs to be asked at all. I appreciate that you're trying to push people to improve their answers, but let's be sure to do it in a respectful way.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 14:53
  • 5
    I second the "venus flytraps won't work"; we tried that, and it didn't work. One fly eaten every two days or so just doesn't cut it.
    – Joe M
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 22:22

You can try some fly paper from a hardware store. It is cheap and not harmful to other animals or people. Hang it around the problem area and toss it when the problem is gone or replace it when it gets ugly to look at

  • Is this from experience? (Why) will they be attracted to the fly paper?
    – user34961
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 7:51
  • 1
    @JanDoggen Fruit flies are definitely attracted to fly paper. I've seen fly paper with fruit flies all over it. The whole point of fly paper is that it attracts insects (including fruit flies) with an appealing scent.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 15:08
  • Note that "not harmful to other animals" is not strictly true -- fly paper will trap any small animals that come into contact with it. If you hang it from the ceiling indoors like you're supposed to, there usually won't be many opportunities for anything but insects to get stuck in it, but it can happen. I've personally seen a dead bat caught in a strip of fly paper, and I'd expect that small birds could get similarly trapped if they came inside the house (or if the paper was hung outdoors for some reason). Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 20:06

I used to be a chef. A trick I learned was to leave maybe half a bottle's worth of beer in a bottle and leave the bottle. They'd go in there and drown. Usually solved the problem in two or three nights if it was really bad.

Something else super simple is to tie your trash bags, but leave a tiny bit of an opening. Leave them like that overnight, the flies go in, and in the morning you just seal them in and get rid of the bag. Make sure there is something attractive in the bags or they won't go in.


Slow method: a little wine in a tray (looks like other substances work too). Fast method: Nozzle attachment from my vacuum cleaner. Works with other bugs too although you have to sneak up on flies unless they're the slow-moving kind.


I think the absolute best way to kill them is with a bug zapper. There are many (indoor) bugzappers available for about $40 on amazon. I've rarely been so happy with a purchase. Every day mine kills more bugs (big and tiny) than I ever would have guessed or liked to imagine were even in my house. The blue light is not exactly classy so part of me wishes I could turn it off but it gets so many bugs per day I can't imagine stopping the process, and letting that many bugs go unkilled.

Notably, fruit flies in particular are NOT attracted to the light of the bugzapper however, so you have to take it one step further. Get a little container (tupperware etc) and throw some banana peels/fruit scraps into it (as bait) and then lay the bug zapper on its side over the top of the container. You'll hear so much popping you won't beleive it. Some of the flys will make it to the fruit by luck avoiding the zapper contacts, so occasionally give it a thump to disturb them and get them to take flight. You'll get like 30 pops at once.

  • If it's just the blue light that bothers you, you could put it on a timer so it only runs when you're asleep or away from home. Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 15:25

The easiest and most successful trap I've used (and I've tried some of the above) was a small dish with vegetable oil and a blot of cheap balsamic in the middle. Balsamic brings them in, vegetable oil traps them.


Vinegar & fruit in a covered glass

Combining some of the Answers, in a quick and easy solution:

Grab one or more drinking glasses.

Drop a piece of fruit into some water, add some vinegar if handy.

Stretch taut a piece of Saran Wrap-style plastic over the glass. If not tight, wrap a rubber band around.

Poke two or three tiny holes with the tip of a knife. Very small holes. The fruit flies slip through the tiniest of spaces, kind of amazing.

The idea is for them to slip into the glass, drawn by the delicious-smelling rotten fruit aroma, but render them unlikely to find their way out.

enter image description here


I've used a variation of the traps others have noted:

2 parts Apple Cider Vinegar 1 part Water 1 drop Dish Soap

Gently stir these together in a small dish and place it on your counter.

The dish soap prevents surface tension from forming and when the flies attempt to drink the vinegar they are trapped and drown quickly.

  • Wow, I had to scroll down a long way before I found an answer which mentions dish soap in the answer itself rather than just in a comment!
    – mattdm
    Commented Oct 3, 2017 at 10:37

Make a trap!

What my parents did when we had a bit of a fruit fly problem was take a plastic container of some sort (really it doesn't matter what material it is), put some fruit peels and cores in it, then cover its opening with plastic wrap and poke some small holes in it. The flies will be eager to get in and unable to get out (except for the odd one with some sense) because they can't tell that the film is in their way (they have like 0 brain after all).

The next morning, we'd have a bunch of fruit flies in the container. I forget what my parents did with them but squishing them to death is quite stress-relieving according to my mom...

  • I hope the ones that escape aren't the ones with some sense, because that would mean we're all breeding a race of intelligent fruit flies! Luckily I think the ones that escape are just lucky, not smart.
    – stannius
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 16:59
  • 1
    @stannius yeah eventually one or two get out after flying at that thing for hours before they die :) :) but super-intelligent flies sounds like a scary idea :P Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 18:24

Catch and release.

I separate my veg peelings and food scraps from other household waste. The fruit fly' inevitably get into this.

I wait, usually in the morning, and catch most of them by quickly closing off the neck of the bag. I release them. I don't tie the bag off but return them to benign climbs usually via the bin chute.

There are always sentry flies patrolling the vicinity of the bag so I don't get them all, but by now I treat them more like pets than a nuisance.

As long as I keep the rest of the kitchen clear of fruit fly food they pretty much stick to the vicinity of the scraps/composting bag.

They no longer seem to see me as a threat and have stopped flying directly at me when i disturb them.

I have occasionally tried the hippy solution and calmly asked them to leave while pointing to an open window. YMMV on that one.

But I don't mine so much and I'm reminded of the end to 'all the pretty horses' when I'm tempted to get the vacuum out.


  • 1
    This does not seem to add anything to the many answers already present
    – user34961
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 7:24
  • Flies are extremely unhygienic to have in an area where you're preparing food. I would highly recommend you deal with all flies as and when you can. Personally, I now have the hoover on standby next to my chair, ready and waiting to strike should the odd straggler show it's hide.
    – Korthalion
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 8:18

I have two methods that I use:

  1. Something that attracts them, usually the source itself placed outside the window. They will eventually gravitate towards it and once most of them are outside I quickly remove the rotten fruit and close the window.

  2. But there are usually some that stay behind. For them I use a flame thrower to burn them in mid-flight. I use a blowtorch that is attached to a gas cartridge. If you turn the whole apparatus upside down the liquid gas will pour through the nozzle throwing a big ball of flames. Just be careful using it close to walls. The oxygen starved flame produces soot that can deposit on the wall.

  • 2
    Flamethrower against fruit flies???
    – Robert
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 16:26
  • 1
    @Robert sounds like fun to me!
    – stannius
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 17:00
  • I'd say it's ridiculous to advise someone to use a flamethrower in their kitchen but then again, crème brûlée. Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 17:38
  • @Robert - well if you can use a laser against mosquitoes why not?
    – Jules
    Commented Oct 1, 2017 at 6:41
  • @SteveJessop You make crème brûlée with a gas torch, not a flame-thrower. Specifically, the gas torch produces a well-controlled jet of burning gas; turning the gas bottle upside down produces a ridiculously dangerous uncontrolled splurge of burning liquid. Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 18:03

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