Saturday, November 7, 2009

They Aren't REALLY "Fruit Flies"

First off, it turns out that the wee buggers you and I and the rest of the free world thought were "fruit flies" are actually something called "vinegar flies." Apparently "fruit flies" are found on ripening fruits in the "field", which in many cases is actually in the tropics. They are the bane of fruit producers.

Vinegar flies are the bane of home owners who brought fruit into the house and didn't eat it fast enough, and then put it in their worm bins, only to find later they have given the little beggars a perfect community in which to live.

I've been chasing vinegar flies about the house now for three or so weeks - since the great Worm Bin Debacle. I cleaned the bin and followed all the directions for ridding it of the pests (it's an on-going project). But still the kitchen was swarming with tiny insects. So I went to Phase Two: vacuuming the insects multiple times a day.

Have you ever actually tried to suck up vinegar flies with a vacuum cleaner? If they are clustered on a cabinet door, it's not too much of a problem, but once they launch themselves, you just look ridiculous trying to chase them down, waving the vacuum hose in the air as the flies drift from point A to point B and beyond. You might think you got a lot of them, but leave a light on and return to the kitchen, oh, ten minutes later, and you will see just as many as before taking a leisurely rest on your walls, cabinets, and light fixtures.

So, I decided, as a last ditch effort, to go with the old-fashioned method of trapping them: I put a bit of ripe banana into a bottle with a narrow neck. I set the bottle on the windowsill near the worm bin (the only available spot in the kitchen - the maid's been on holiday, again). Suddenly, there were no more vinegar flies on the cabinets and walls. Could it be I had actually sucked them all into the vacuum cleaner? No - I looked at the banana trap and the bottom of the bottle was coated with many many flies (dare I say hundreds?). Some were deceased, others not, but at least they were contained and no longer decorating my kitchen! Voila!

Long story short, if you have vinegar flies pestering you in your kitchen, stick a bit of very ripe fruit into a bottle with a long narrow neck and set it aside. Soon your fly problem will be under control, without the need for purchasing toxic chemicals or expensive (yet decorative) traps. It's cheap, non-toxic, and, most importantly, it works.


Woodswoman Extraordinaire: said...

I hadn't discovered this other blog of yours! I tried a worm bin this spring, which experiment promptly failed miserably. I have fits of guilt whenever I think about those poor tortured creatures trying frantically to escape my apparently toxic conditions. Now I need to order more worms and try again, once I work up the nerve. I didn't make it far enough into the experiment to get to the "fruit"/vinegar fly stage... I'm looking forward to it.

Garden Lily said...

When I'm overrun by fruit (or vinegar?) flies, I leave a small bowl of fruit juice (or wine) mixed with a bit of dishwashing soap on the windowsill, and they seem to find it pretty quick. The soap breaks the surface tension, so they fall in and drown.