As soon as fresh fruits and vegetables come into the house from the backyard garden or farmers market, we usher in a pest along with it: the pesky fruit fly is just waiting to prey on all of our delicious goodies!
I think you all would agree with me that it is fairly frustrating when you reach for a piece of fruit that is soft and mushy with fruit flies flying around it – or worse yet an infestation of fruit flies!
We have experienced that unpleasantness during canning season in years past. There is a reason so many high school classes use them for experiments on life cycles: they multiply fast!
If you are new to homesteading or canning and preserving your own food you may be thinking, “What on Earth do you do with these pests?” Fruit flies are relatively harmless but not to those of us who are proud of our beautiful canned goods and clean kitchens!
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Tips on Dealing with / Managing Them
First, I tested two different D.I.Y. style fruit traps. Both are natural and use similar concepts to entice and trap the flies.
Basic Fruit Fly Trap
The first trap is simple and all you need is a glass or jar, plastic wrap, vinegar, a rubber band and a toothpick to poke the holes. You place vinegar in the glass or jar, cover top with plastic wrap, wrap a rubber band around it to secure it in place, poke some holes in the top for the fruit fly to get trapped and voila’ you are all done!
The best part about this trap is that the flies come to their demise rather quickly and it’s a little easier to set up. This trap is good overall and inexpensive. However, I think the cone trap has proven to us to be more effective with its one downside which I will explain next.
The Cone Fruit Fly Trap
The cone trap is even simpler! All you need is a little wine and fruit placed in a jar or trap.
For this experiment I used some blueberry jam and wine. In my opinion, wine attracts fruit flies more than vinegar. However, if you don’t have wine on hand, vinegar will do just fine. Place it all in a glass or jar and make a cone with paper. The smell attracts them and they become trapped down at the bottom of the cone.
With the cone fruit fly trap, you need to have a little bit more skill. The cone must be rolled and placed precisely in the jar so the bottom doesn’t touch the liquid . It may also take an attempt or two to make sure you don’t have any air leaks in the side.
This trap is highly effective in trapping the fruit flies. However, they don’t die off very quickly. As you can see in the photo above, the flies are still flying around inside the cone trap. Your best options are to vacuum them up, fill up the rest of the cup with fluid extremely quickly, or let them go outside. (Letting them go outside could perpetuate the problem and should be a last resort.)
Other Fruit Fly Traps
I have also seen the soda bottle fruit fly trap but haven’t tried this one yet but the basic concept again is similar: entice the fly and let them die. I am hoping to try the DIY soda bottle fruit fly trap out this summer.
There are commercial fruit fly traps, but I have not tried any of them. We are a very budget conscious household, and if we can do it ourselves, we do. It’s just part of our self reliant spirit.
Don’t Let Them Win
Once they take hold, it is very easy to give up and throw in the towel…but don’t do it! When it reaches crisis mode and you are in a full blown fruit fly infestation, here are some tips and strategies to help you cope.
- Put all fruit in the refrigerator, a cooler, sealed bags, or in any sealed environment.
- Do the same for any sweet items, especially bananas, tomatoes, and even eggplant.
- Set out your traps. You may need several because once the fruit is gone, the traps will be their only choice for “food”.
- Keep a vacuum in the kitchen, plugged in and ready to go. If they are all in one area, you can vacuum them up. Just be sure to dump out the vacuum right away.
Fruit Flies Aren’t Going Anywhere for Long
Truthfully, fruit flies are part of life for those of us who can and preserve our own food. Developing habits to prevent an infestation is best. Prevention is far more valuable than strategies and tips to trap them. Don’t let ripe fruit sit out too long. Freeze it, preserve it, dehydrate it, or eat it!
Hope these ideas helped you and Happy Canning Season!
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