Wednesday, December 6, 2023

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How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies from an Indoor Compost Bin

An indoor compost bin lets you save kitchen scraps to help your garden grow. Unfortunately, it also helps you grow quite the swarm of fruit flies if left unchecked. Today, let’s go over a few methods I’ve used to ultimately decimate the kitchen fly population.

Perhaps my favorite method, though, is more of a hands-on approach. I’ll explain in a moment.

How Fruit Flies Get Inside in the First Place

If you ever buy produce, you run the risk of bringing fruit fly eggs into the home. Well, if you buy produce that hasn’t been thoroughly cleaned. And yes, these little buggers can slip past when picking up produce from Walmart.

If you’re like me and enjoy going out to farmer’s markets for fresh goods, there is a greater likelihood that you’ll bring fruit flies into the home. Mostly because farmers and vendors often don’t put in the same insecticides and effort to clean produce.

This is a good thing, in a way. After all, who wants to worry about dangerous chemicals on their foods?

Aside from washing away chemicals, you can help lower the risks of bringing in flies by cleaning produce immediately. As female fruit flies can lay around 500 eggs and will do so quickly. It only takes one to spawn a swarm.

When you have an indoor compost bin, it becomes exceptionally easy to provide these insects with the very thing they need to survive: scraps from fruits and veggies.

How to Reduce the Impact of Fruit Flies

Unlike many other insects out there, fruit flies are actually not all that difficult to control. They have a relatively specific diet, live for about a week, and are quite slow when flying around.

To control the population of fruit flies:

1. Thoroughly Clean the Area

For the most part, fruit flies are attracted to natural sugars. However, they will easily thrive in a sink that has even the smallest amount of ketchup or barbecue sauce.

Thoroughly clean the main area where you find flies to help get rid of them. If you have an indoor compost bin, make sure you empty it and spray it out regularly.

Fruit flies can easily fit through a compost bin filter. In fact, they can easily fit in donut boxes, ovens, microwaves, and anywhere else you think food is safe.

Well, aside from a refrigerator. There’s something to be said about being magnetically sealed.

2. Toss Overripe or Rotting Produce

Once the hub of activity has been cleaned, throw away any piece of produce that is overripe or rotting. This should be a bit obvious as rotting food is what fruit flies thrive on eating.

This is why you’ll see fruit flies on yellow bananas far more often than on green ones.

What if you are trying to “ripen” bananas for banana bread? Throw them in the freezer. It does an excellent job at killing eggs while hastening the process to make bread.

3. Set Out Traps to Snag the Fruit Flies

Once the stage is clean and old produce is tossed, it’s time to set out traps to capture the remaining flies. These are actually incredibly cheap and easy to make yourself and are highly effective.

In fact, I managed to put together an apple cider vinegar trap together in less than five minutes. By the end of the day, the jar was full of the little buggers.

I’ll go into how to make one of these in a moment.

Now, I haven’t tried traditional fly strips in the kitchen above the compost bin. But that’s mostly because I have cats, and I have no doubt someone will get themselves wrapped up in one.

If you’ve ever tried to clean a fly strip off of your skin, multiply that by 100 times and that’s what it’s like to get it out of a cat with long fur.

3 Methods I’ve Used to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Over the past year, I’ve tried a few methods to slim down the fly population near my compost bin. Since I keep it near the kitchen sink, it’s pretty easy to isolate where the little ones congregate.

Though, some will still explore throughout the house.

In any case, the best ways to get rid of fruit flies include:

Apple Cider Vinegar Traps

Apple cider vinegar is sweet enough to attract the flies, which will kill them quickly if they land in the liquid. And out of the methods I mention here, this is probably the cheapest overall.

You don’t really need to use a lot for the trap to be effective. In fact, a quarter cup may last you several weeks of fly-catching power. I haven’t changed mine in more than a month and it’s still collecting flies.

I usually just let it evaporate before changing the vinegar.

As I said earlier, it takes less than five minutes to set up. And since I had everything here at the house already, it didn’t cost me anything extra.

To create an apple cider vinegar trap for fruit flies:

  1. Get an unused mason jar or other small container. We’ve even used plastic wine cups for this in the past.
  2. Put about a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar in the container. You might be able to get away with less if you don’t have very much.
  3. Tear off a bit of plastic wrap you might have for wrapping food. The plastic wrap needs to be large enough to fit easily over the container.
  4. Use a rubber band, tape, or other fasteners to hold the plastic wrap over the opening of the jar. We used a rubber hair tie.
  5. Using a toothpick or other small puncturing device, poke several holes in the plastic wrap. I simply used a tine from a fork.
  6. Set the jar near where the fruit flies are most abundant. For me, it was next to the indoor compost bin.
Apple Cider Vinegar Fly Trap

This is one of those things where you can just set it and forget it. Within a few hours, you’ll find quite a few flies within your jar. That is if you have a lot of fruit flies, to begin with.

In any case, it doesn’t take long to start pulling them in.

Rescue Reusable Fruit Fly Traps

The Rescue Reusable Fruit Fly Traps work amazingly well to rid yourself of these annoying little buggers.

These traps are small, dome-shaped containers that come with an attractant fluid. The traps have a spill-resistant design and are capable of holding hundreds of flies before emptying.

Simply put a bit of the attractant inside the trap, close it up, and set it where you see flies buzzing around. It doesn’t take long for the fruit flies to enter the trap and remain.

Rescue traps are easy to use and take just moments to set up.

Since the Rescue traps come in a two-pack, I decided to compare the attractant bait to apple cider vinegar. Then, I set both units up relatively close but far enough way where one scent may not overpower another.

Needless to say, the Rescue trap with the attractant collected more than ten times the flies than the apple cider vinegar over the span of three weeks.

Fruit Flies in Traps
Yeah, you can’t see the bottom of the Attractant container – nasty.

Not to mention that the area is now virtually clear of the little buggers.

Since these are simple containers, you can clean them out and store them until you need to set traps again in the future. It’s one of the downsides to having an indoor compost bin if you have one.

Magic Mesh Bug Zapper and Swatter

For those who want a more hands-on approach to get rid of fruit flies, the Magic Mesh Bug Zapper and Swatter is simply too fun to pass up! In fact, I completely wiped out a swarm of flies within a very short amount of time.

This bad boy is USB rechargeable and makes short work of flies of all kinds by sending enough of an electric jolt to make them explode in a small “pop.” It works the same way as any outdoor bug zapper, only that it looks like a tennis racket.

The first night I turned it on, it sounded like some macabre firework display in my kitchen as I eliminated a very large group of flies in a very short amount of time.

The cool thing about the Magic Mesh is that it also doubles as a regular zapper by utilizing a blacklight to attract flying insects. So, you could plug this into the USB charging base, turn on the light, and let the bugs fly into it on their own.

This particular unit has a “safety” mesh over the shocking unit to prevent accidentally hitting yourself or your pets. While it’s not enough of a jolt to cause severe harm, it will hurt.

The Magic Mesh is probably one of the most fun bug killers I’ve ever purchased, especially since it works on any flying insect. From fruit flies to mosquitos, they’re all fair game.

And yes, I get a bit of joy when something pops while I’m holding the swatter. It’s the little things in life that give you pleasure.

The only downside is having to clean up all the little bodies when using the unit indoors. That is unless you have a cat who loves to eat dead flies off the floor.

Fruit Flies are Attracted to Sweet Foods

One thing to keep in mind when setting traps or considering what to clean next is that fruit flies are attracted to sweet foods and liquids. Anything from the sickly sweet smell of rotting fruit to a fresh glass of wine is an attractant.

This means simply cleaning up the mess from fruits and vegetables might not be enough. You’ll also want to consider various alcohols and drinks that may have spilled or are sitting out somewhere.

For example, what if your teen leaves out an “empty” can of soda? You can bet it will attract a fruit fly or two.

It’s not just liquids, either.

I’ve seen a swarm of fruit flies get into an oven and infiltrate a closed pizza box to get at the goodness inside. They’ve also made their way into a microwave to find raising bread.

Because of their size, never underestimate how these little insects can make their way into just about anything. As I said earlier, though, keeping things in the fridge and freezer is a safe bet.

The problem is that not everything can go in the fridge or freezer.

What’s Your Weapon of Choice for Fruit Flies?

It’s difficult to pinpoint my favorite method of getting rid of fruit flies. I’m very partial to using the Magic Mesh, but only because I get a great deal of pleasure when going ham on flying insects in my kitchen.

Otherwise, I often use apple cider vinegar traps to catch any leftovers.

What method is more appealing to you to get rid of flies next to your indoor compost bin?

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been interested in the practicality of living green for quite some time. He works closely with GreenGeeks Web Hosting as the Content Marketing Team Lead and an author of various articles.

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