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It's happened to all of us – the bunch of bananas meant to be used in smoothies or enjoyed as a healthy snack are now sitting on the kitchen counter, turning a not-so-appetizing shade of brown. Beside the unpleasant sight, there's an even worse result: fruit flies.

Two rotten apples on a table next to fresh ripe apples
Credit: Getty Images

What are fruit flies?

Fruit flies are one of those pests that we're not completely certain how they appear in our homes, but we want them out as soon as possible. Overripe fruit and decomposing waste are like siren calls for fruit flies, plus their microscopic bodies make it easy for them to get into homes through cracks in the windows and doors, according to a fact sheet from the department of entomology at the University of Kentucky. They also can lay about 500 eggs in one reproductive cycle, and their lifespan from egg to adult is completed in one week, according to the factsheet. For such short lives, they stay busy! Fruit flies can be a year-round issue but are especially abundant during the summer and fall when fresh produce is most common in homes.

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Once you realize that you have fruit flies, it's best to try to remove them as quickly as possible. If you don't want to buy a fruit fly trap, there are plenty of household items that you can use to make your own fly trap solution.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Fruit flies cannot resist the tangy-sweet smell of vinegar. Fill a mason jar, or any container, with apple cider vinegar, and then fashion a funnel out of a piece of notebook paper or a coffee filter. Alternatively, you can secure the top of the container in plastic wrap and poke a few tiny holes into it. The flies will be attracted to the vinegar but won't be able to fly out.

If you don't have material for a funnel, you can also mix three-parts apple cider vinegar with one-part blue dish detergent. The soap will make their wings too heavy to fly.

Wine or Beer

Similar to vinegar, fruit flies love the fermented sweet smell of wine and beer. Use the same funnel or plastic wrap method to trap them in a container.

Rotten Fruit

Put those overripe bananas to good use by placing the peel and pieces of the banana in a container, and again sealing the top with a funnel or plastic wrap.

Alcohol Spray

Skip the potentially harmful chemicals in some household products and make your own spray. 91% isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle will kill the flies on contact without putting yourself and others in harm's way with harsh chemicals.  

Ways to Prevent Fruit Flies in Your Home

Clean all surfaces regularly.

Fruit flies feed on the liquid of decomposing food and any sticky substances. Be sure to wipe down all your countertops and clean up any spilled food that may have found its way on the floor or under your fridge. Taking out the trash regularly also helps.

Fruit flies can breed in drains if there are clumps of food caught in your pipes. You can use a baking soda-vinegar solution, or boiling water to clear out caught food in drains.

Check your fridge and countertops.

Be sure that you don't have overly ripe fruit hanging out on the countertops or in your fridge. It's best to not leave any food out on the countertops, if they aren't stored in air-tight containers.

Fix window and door screens.

Because of their small size, adult fruit flies can easily get in through cracks and tears in bug screens. Regularly inspect your screens to ensure they're secure. You should also check for cracks around air conditioning vents and along window seals.