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Pest control: dealing with fruit flies

Fruit flies are a nuisance and reproduce so quickly that a couple becomes a swarm in the blink of an eye. Kevin Harrison from Which? Local-recommended Pest Guard North West explains how to deal with these winged alcoholics.

Pink grapefruit slices

What are fruit flies?

Fruit flies (also known as vinegar flies) are the slow-moving, bulbous-bodied flies that seem to appear out of nowhere whenever a neglected piece of fruit passes its best.

The flies feed on alcohol, which is produced when fruits and vegetables start to ferment.

They’re also fond of the alcohol in beer, wine and other alcoholic drinks, which is why they’re often seen in pubs and restaurants – spills and empty bottles are an attraction.

Why are fruit flies a nuisance?

Fruit flies are unsightly and, with an ample food source, can become numerous very quickly.

'As well as feeding on these alcoholic food sources, they also lay eggs in them,' explains professional pest controller Kevin Harrison.

'The eggs are produced at a rate of 20 to 25 per day and mature in as little as eight days, so they can become a nuisance very quickly.'

What attracts fruit flies?

In addition to rotting fruits and vegetables, other collections of damp food particles are also an attractive place to feed and lay eggs. Those places include:

  • Cracks, corners and crevices: 'Sometimes, when people sweep their kitchen and then mop afterwards, the soggy crumbs can turn into fermenting goo,' says Kevin.
  • The U-bend: 'A small leak will lead food particles to build up somewhere – an ideal food source for fruit flies.'
  • An overflow pipe: 'Washing dishes in a sink full of water often results in the grease and muck on top of the water collecting in an overflow pipe. Fruit flies love it.'
  • Dirty dishes: 'Any food particles, given time, can become an attraction.'

How to get rid of fruit flies

Clean thoroughly

Happily, getting rid of fruit flies is easy. Removing the food source (bearing in mind that it could be a non-food item) is all that is required. 

A thorough clean which clears away every trace of sticky stuff should do the trick.

Spray and sticky papers

'After your deep clean, you could use a fly spray to kill the remaining adults if desired, though without a place to breed, they shouldn’t continue to be troublesome,' says Kevin. 'Always read the instructions carefully when using a fly spray of any kind.'

'Sticky papers, which have one highly adhesive side and cost around £1 for a small pack, can also be used. Place them where the flies like to sit – usually the ceiling or the underside of a cupboard shelf,' says Kevin.'They'll get stuck on the sticky paper.'

Alternatively, you could make one sheet of sticky paper into a funnel and place in a jar or bottle containing a little wine, beer or decaying fruit.  

About our expert trader

Our expert: Kevin Harrison

Kevin Harrison is the owner of Pest Guard North West, a pest control business based in Stockport.

Pest Guard North West is a member of Trading Standards' Buy With Confidence scheme.

Which? members have praised Pest Guard North West for offering advice and a competitively priced service.

Read reviews for Pest Guard North West