What Are Fruit Flies And How To Keep Your Home Free From Them

fruit flies on lemon

Have you ever experienced this too? You slice a lemon, leave half of it in the fruit bowl, and it’s swarmed with annoying fruit flies the next day.

But where did these flies come from? They definitely weren’t there yesterday…

Fruit flies are a common household pest, especially during the warmer months. They are tiny, winged insects that can multiply quickly and infest your home. Fruit flies feed and breed on fruits and vegetables, which can make them a common sight in your kitchen. They can be annoying and unhygienic, making it important to get rid of them quickly. In this post, I will talk about what fruit flies are, how they infest homes, how to prevent them from entering your home, and the best ways to get rid of them.

What are Fruit Flies? Where Do They Come From?

Fruit flies are small, winged insects that are commonly found in households, restaurants, and grocery stores. They have a tan or brown body and red eyes and are approximately ⅛ inch in size. They belong to the family Drosophilidae, which has over 3,000 different species

These tiny creatures are attracted to overripe or rotting fruit and vegetables, as well as sugary liquids and alcohol.

Fruit flies typically lay their eggs on the surface of ripened fruit or vegetables, and the eggs hatch within 24 to 30 hours. (Their life cycle is so quick, and that’s why we are often caught by surprise at the sight of fruit fly infestation). The small white worms, the larvae, feed on the fruit or vegetable and develop into pupae within a few days. After another few days, the adult fruit flies emerge from the pupae and begin to mate, starting the cycle again.

So, where do fruit flies come from? They can come from various places, but most commonly, they enter the home on ripened fruits or vegetables. They are commonly found in grocery stores, restaurants, and homes. Fruit flies can travel from one location to another through people’s clothing or on fruits transported from an infested location. Once inside, they can quickly reproduce, causing a full-blown infestation in no time.

What Are The Five Signs Of A Fruit Fly Infestation?

Fruit flies are tiny, pesky insects that can quickly take over your home. You might even wonder if they are harmful and spread disease (I will discuss that further in my article). That’s why it’s crucial to identify the signs of a fruit fly infestation early on and take action.

There are five signs of a fruit fly infestation and what you can do to eliminate them.

  1. Swarms of tiny insects: Fruit flies are small, measuring only up to 3mm long. They are tan or brown with red eyes and can often be seen buzzing in clusters or swarms around your kitchen or pantry. If you notice a group of tiny insects hovering around your fruit bowl or trash can, chances are you have a fruit fly infestation.
  2. Overripe fruit: Fruit flies lay their eggs on overripe or rotting fruit and vegetable matter. A pile of overripe fruit or vegetables in your kitchen or on your countertop can attract fruit flies and lead to an infestation. Therefore, make sure to keep your produce fresh and throw away any spoiled or rotten food.
  3. Sticky residue: Fruit flies are attracted to moist and sugary substances. They may be found near sticky, sweet substances such as spilled juice, soda, beer or honey. If you see a sticky residue on your kitchen countertops or floors, it’s a sure sign that fruit flies are present.
  4. Larvae: Fruit fly larvae look like small, white worms that can be found on the surface of rotting fruit. If you see these larvae on your fruit or vegetable matter, it is evidence that the fruit flies have been breeding and laying eggs on your produce.
  5. Presence of breeding sites: Fruit flies breed in moist organic matter. They can lay their eggs in standing water, drains, garbage disposals, compost bins, or sewage systems. If you notice any of these breeding sites in your home, you may have a fruit fly infestation and should take immediate action.

How Can I Prevent Fruit Flies from Coming into My Home?

Let’s face it: seeing fruit flies in our homes can make us feel a little gross, and it’s definitely not something we want our guests to witness.

Luckily, there are some easy and effective ways to prevent fruit flies from entering your home. Let’s see them together:

Keep it clean

The best way to prevent fruit flies from coming into your home is to keep your counters and floors clean. Fruit flies are attracted to sugary and fermentable substances, so make sure to clean up any spills, crumbs or other food debris as soon as possible. This is especially important in the kitchen, where uneaten fruit and vegetables can ripen quickly and provide a breeding ground for fruit flies.

Give your kitchen a thorough cleaning on a regular basis, paying careful attention to any hard-to-reach areas where food particles may accumulate.

Are you one of those people who have a condiment tray on your counter (like I do)? You know, the one with oil, vinegar, and ketchup? Well, from my personal experience, I would make sure to take care of that one first because fruit flies just looove condiments.

Get rid of ripe produce

Another way to prevent fruit flies from entering your home is to remove any ripe or overripe fruit from your fruit bowl. Make sure to throw away any produce that is past its prime and keep your fruit bowl free of any fruit that has started to soften or rot. If you don’t finish your fruit every day, consider storing it in the refrigerator to help prolong its freshness.

Seal up your garbage

Fruit flies are attracted to garbage, so make sure to store your garbage in a sealed container or bin. This will help prevent fruit flies from entering your home and making themselves home in your garbage can. Also, rinse the containers after emptying them, as the sugary residue can still attract fruit flies, even in a sealed container.

Try a natural repellent

If traditional methods don’t work for you, try making your own natural repellent. Here is a list with 5 natural repellents:

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar Trap:
    The apple cider vinegar trap is the most tried and true method to get rid of fruit flies naturally. This remedy calls for a dish of apple cider and a drop of dish soap. The acidic scent of vinegar draws in the fruit flies, and the soap facilitates trapping them. Cover the dish having the solution with a plastic wrap and poke some holes with a toothpick. Place the trap in the infested areas and regularly dispose of the trapped fruit flies.
  2. Red Wine Trap:
    This is a great trick to use when you are left with unfinished wine that has turned sour. Pour some wine in a small dish, and cover the dish with a plastic wrap, poking some holes on top. Since vinegar and wine are made by fermenting fruit, the fruit flies will be attracted to both of them.
  3. Lemon and Cloves:
    Place cloves in slices of fresh lemon and spread them around the kitchen counters and dining areas. The scent of lemon and cloves will keep fruit flies away. Not only will this be a great natural way to get rid of fruit flies, but you’ll also have a refreshing scent in your home.
  4. Camphor Blocks:
    Camphor has a strong scent that repels insects, making it an ideal solution to get rid of fruit flies. Place a few camphor blocks around the infested areas, and you can even add camphor oil to a diffuser or vaporizer to reap the benefits of its scent without the risks of using harmful chemical insecticides.
  5. Basil Leaves:
    Planting basil or placing fresh basil leaves around your kitchen countertops, tables or dining areas is both an insect repellent and a fly trap at the same time. As a defense mechanism, basil emits an aroma that is not pleasing to insects, and will keep the fruit flies away.

Keep your drains clean

Finally, it’s important to remember that fruit flies can breed in your drains if they are not properly cleaned. Make sure to regularly clean your drains with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. This will help to break down any grease and food particles that may accumulate in your drains and reduce the likelihood of fruit flies breeding there.

How to Get Rid of an Existing Fruit Fly Problem?

Fortunately, effective products on the market can help you eliminate these pesky insects. Let’s see them together:

  1. Fly Traps – Fly traps are a great way to catch fruit flies. They are easy to set up and use and work by attracting flies with a lure, typically made of vinegar or fruit. Once the flies enter the trap, they cannot escape and eventually die. You can find fly traps in most hardware or grocery stores or make your own with a jar, some vinegar, and a piece of paper rolled into a cone.
  2. Fly StripsFly strips are another effective product against fruit flies. These strips consist of a sticky surface and a lure, and they work by catching the flies as they land on the strip. You can hang these strips around your kitchen or garbage, and they will catch fruit flies without the need for extra effort. You can find these strips at any hardware or grocery store.
  3. Fruit Fly Bait – Fruit fly bait is a spray that specifically targets fruit flies. It contains a type of pheromone that attracts the flies and toxins that will kill them once they consume the bait. This product is especially effective in getting rid of large infestations of fruit flies. You can find fruit fly bait at most hardware or garden supply stores.
  4. Vacuum Cleaner – This product may not be specifically designed to target fruit flies, but it is an effective way to remove them from your home. Simply use your vacuum cleaner to suck up the flies, and then dispose of the bag or contents of the vacuum. Make sure to clean your vacuum thoroughly after using it to avoid any lingering fruit fly eggs.
  5. Fruit Fly Repellent – If you want to prevent fruit flies from entering your home, you can use a fruit fly repellent spray. This spray contains natural ingredients that repel fruit flies, such as lemon or eucalyptus oil. Simply spray it around your kitchen or garbage area, and fruit flies will stay away. You can find this product at most grocery or health food stores.

If you have tried various DIY solutions and still have a fruit fly problem, calling in a professional exterminator is essential. Exterminators will evaluate the severity of the infestation and choose the best approach to eliminate it. They will ensure that the problem is dealt with promptly and the right measures are taken to prevent another infestation from occurring.

How Long do Fruit Flies Live, and What Do They Eat?

Fruit flies have short life cycles, with the adults living for ten days or less. They can lay up to 500 eggs in their lifetime. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae will eat their way through the fruit or vegetable in which they were born. They will continue to reproduce unless the food source is removed, and their breeding ground is eliminated.

Are Fruit Flies Harmful? Debunking the Myths

If you’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of finding a swarm of fruit flies in your kitchen, you may wonder if they’re dangerous. While these tiny pests can be quite a nuisance, many people are curious about whether they can carry harmful diseases. Let’s debunk some common myths and answer the question: Are fruit flies harmful?

Myth #1: Fruit Flies Spread Disease

Contrary to popular belief, fruit flies are not known to carry and transmit harmful diseases to humans. These pests are attracted to overripe or decaying fruits and vegetables and other types of organic matter, such as garbage and compost. While it’s true that fruit flies can come into contact with bacteria and other pathogens, they’re unlikely to transmit these to humans. (Do not confuse fruit flies with house flies and the diseases they carry. You can read my article here).

Myth #2: Fruit Flies Bite

While mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects are known to bite humans, fruit flies do not. These tiny pests do not have the mouthparts necessary to break human skin and are not interested in feeding on blood. If you’re experiencing bites in your home, it’s likely caused by a different type of insect. If you want to know more about fly bites, check my article here).

Myth #3: Fruit Flies are Harmful to Food

While it’s certainly annoying to find a swarm of fruit flies buzzing around your kitchen, these pests are unlikely to cause harm to your food. Fruit flies are attracted to overripe or rotting fruits and vegetables, which are already in a state of decomposition. While they may lay eggs on these fruits, the maggots that hatch are not harmful to humans. If you’re concerned about the quality of your food, it’s always best to purchase fresh produce and refrigerate it promptly.

Myth #4: Fruit Flies are Impossible to Get Rid Of

While fruit flies can be persistent, they are not impossible to eliminate. The best way to get rid of fruit flies is to identify and remove the source of the infestation. This may involve throwing away any overripe or decaying fruits and vegetables, cleaning up organic matter in your kitchen, and using a fruit fly trap or insecticide to eliminate the remaining pests. Following these steps, you can rid your home of fruit flies and prevent future infestations.


While fruit flies can be a nuisance, they are not harmful to humans and do not carry or transmit diseases. Surely, fruit flies are an irritating and persistent household pest, but with proper precautions, you can keep them from infesting your home. You can prevent and eliminate an infestation by identifying the signs of an infestation and taking prompt action to remove the food source and breeding ground. Don’t let fruit flies ruin your home by taking these necessary steps to eliminate them.

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Anat Goldberg

Hi! My name is Anat and I have lived all my life in the countryside. I grew on a farm in Northern Italy and from an early age, I took care of the animals on the farm and the family garden. Over the years I have developed a growing passion for organic cultivation and pest control.

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