Fruit Fly Control Tip

We just experienced a most horrific problem here at the house. The kids had stuffed a trash barrel downstairs with frozen treat wrappers, soda bottles, juice boxes, candy leftovers and basically everything necessary to create a perfect insect storm. Compounding this was our habit of giving our guinea pigs our leftover veggies and fruit. A fruit fly or two appears to have made its way into the basement, discovered our biological experiment and began the process of multiplying. What stunned me was not only the speed at which the colony began but also their capacity to multiply once they found a home. My arthritis keeps me from visiting the basement very often but the kids and Libby are down there daily so this wasn’t a long term development. What brought the problem to my attention was a few of the fruit flies had made their way upstairs. I assumed it was simply the food and water in our upstairs kitchen that started the problem so I hit them with some bug spray and thought that was that. But an hour later there were literally dozens more. That’s when my youngest son decided to inform me they were also “flying around the barrel downstairs”. What I saw when I arrived in the basement was something literally right out of the Amityville Horror.

The fruit flies covered the top of the barrel and when I opened it, I was swarmed. I quickly moved the bag outside and sprayed the barrel with bug spray believing the problem was now solved. I was so wrong. Around the corner and into the living room downstairs, an entire support pillar was covered like a blanket with them. I moved into the pet room towards the rear and that’s when the horror show really began. There were thousands and thousands, a massive swarm covering lamps and walls and doors. They were everywhere in the house now. I was officially a man with a mission…KILL THE SWARM!

For you hippies out there, you can stuff your organic approaches to pest control up your nose. This was not time to hang pest strips and hope for the best, I had a biological hazard on my hands. I cannot overstate this to anyone else who arrived here interested in how to control a fruit fly problem. If you have a dozen or so hanging around your sink, by all means use a conservative approach up to and including just smashing them with your hands or a paper towel if they’ve landed. But if they’ve taken hold, especially if they’ve discovered a bag of potatoes or onions that have started to turn and use them as a breeding ground, simply removing the offending food item(s) will not do the trick. They’ll hide in drains, behind refrigerators, in bathrooms…EVERYWHERE just waiting for a single piece of fruit or a leftover soda bottle to start the process all over again and they are the most amazing breeding machines I’ve ever encountered. So we moved the pets outside, covered or removed everything involved with food or personal hygiene and I bombed the house with flying insect killer. It took me hours to vacuum up the carcasses which were in every room of the house. That should have done the trick, right? WRONG!

They must have found a hidee hole somewhere. Despite noxious fumes even I couldn’t deal with, they somehow managed to hang in there. The house was clean though, the pets were given dry food only and all possible food sources were locked away. So I did some googling to find a less toxic control method and now you hippies can be proud.

I was at the Museum of Science today recounting our dilemma with a family friend and she stopped me mid-sentence and said “You used the vinegar trick, didn’t you?” Indeed I did. If you have a small fruit fly problem, here’s the tip and I can now state categorically that it works miracles. Just use a tall glass or preferably a mason jar and fill it about 1/3 the way up with red wine vinegar. Put some plastic wrap over it, secure it with an elastic and poke 2-3 pencil tip sized holes in the top. A few hours later, the stragglers were all trapped and were easily disposed of. I’ve left the device out on the counter to see if any more show up but it would appear the problem is solved. Hard to believe, I know but it really works and you can take that to the bank.

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