The key to keeping these itty-bitty, pesky creatures away lies in understanding what they are and where they come from. Fruit flies, scientifically known as drosophila melanogaster, are built to seek out ripe fruits and vegetables. They may find their way into your home through small crevices, or they may have already found your produce prior to your purchasing it and laid eggs on its skin. Because they mature from egg to adult in just eight days and one female can lay 300 eggs at once, a full-on infestation can develop in no time. In some cases they can even breed inside pipes or old cleaning products, such as sponges, rags or mops.
Because of their alarming breeding rate, the best way to keep fruit flies away is by preventing them from starting their life cycle at all. Fruit flies love products that contain sugar or yeast, and they are sensitive to even the smallest quantity. An old juice box, piece of orange rind or unrinsed beer bottle is enough to draw them in. If you notice a few fruit flies in your kitchen, place any ripe fruit and vegetables in the fridge. If produce has become overripe, place it in a sealed bag, and move it to an outside garbage can immediately. If you notice flies circling your garbage can, compost or recycling bin, take the bag out, and wipe down the bin thoroughly. Replace old sponges, mops and rags with fresh, clean ones, and don't leave any old dishes or crumbs lying around. Look for areas of your home where they are accumulating, and wipe down the areas thoroughly to eliminate the fruit flies' food sources.
Fortunately fruit flies aren't the cleverest little creatures, and that makes them easy to trap. For an inexpensive, homemade device, fill a small glass with apple cider vinegar and a little bit of liquid dish soap. Place a piece of plastic wrap tightly over the opening, and poke 1- to 2-millimetre holes in the flat surface with a needle or safety pin. The goal is for the fruit flies to be drawn to the smell of the sweet vinegar, crawl through the holes and then not be able to escape. When they get caught in the soapy vinegar, they drown, leaving less pests for you to contend with. Place the traps in any problem areas of your home. Then it becomes a game of patience. The fruit flies won't necessarily dive for the traps immediately, but after a few days you should see their numbers dwindle as they are drawn to the food sources. Before you know it, you'll be living pest-free once more!
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