Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How to kill fruit flies.

See that? That right there is a fruit fly drowning pool. And that is how you get rid of the fruit flies in your home. Safe, cheap, easy, and fairly quick.

Here's what you do- take some small container (I used a 1/4 c measuring cup) fill it to just below the rim with apple cider vinegar (I like to use 50/50 cider vinegar and water- cuts down on the strong vinegar smell, but still attracts the flies like a magnet). Set the cup somewhere kind of nearby where the fruit flies are at, but still out of the way of stuff, and kind of away from wherever it is they happen to want to be (usually around the kitchen sink or trash can, in my case) - because remember, this will attract them, so you want to attract them away from a busy area. I set mine under the sink, near the trash can, which is where they happened to be anyway, but it was still out of my way. Anyway, once you've got it in place, take a bottle of ordinary dish soap and add just a single drop to the center of the cup. My bottle of dish soap is kind of big and tends to dispense way too much at one time, even when using it for doing dishes, so I filled a small pump bottle that works beautifully. Alternately, you could dip a toothpick or something in the soap and let a drop fall of of that into the center of the cup of vinegar. (I've actually tried coating a toothpick in the soap and then dipping it right into the vinegar, but I found that letting a drop fall in seems to work better for some reason.) What the soap does is break the surface tension of the liquid- fruit fly goes down to take a drink, falls in and drowns! Obviously it takes a little time for it to kill them all completely- depending on how bad your situation is, it could take several days to get rid of them all (or longer, if you've got it really bad like we do at work every spring). But generally I've found that after the first night of setting out the trap, I get well over half of whatever's flying around my kitchen, and then the other half is usually gone in the next day or two. I think I counted about 17 in this picture, and the trap was set out for less than 12 hours. I've seen a couple more flying around the kitchen area, but that's it. Fruit flies are cautious- but also stupid. If you set one of these traps out and watch them as they get attracted to it, generally what you'll see is that they hang around the edge of the cup for awhile, then walk on down to the edge of the vinegar to inspect, then walk back up to the edge of the cup, then walk around the edge of the cup and back on down to the vinegar. It goes on and on like that for awhile, but eventually they can't seem to help themselves, and even when it's obvious that a couple dozen of their buddies are clearly dead at the bottom of the drink, they'll still go on in for a taste, and end up joining their buddies. It's only a matter of time.

One of the (many) things I really like about this method, unlike using toxic chemical sprays to kill them, is that there's no dead flies lying around your kitchen waiting for you to clean them up later- you just dump them down the drain/toilet, lickety-split. Cider vinegar isn't the only thing that works, obviously. They really, really love balsamic vinegar (but even the cheap stuff is more expensive than cider vinegar, plus you can't see how many you've caught). Red or white wine work well too, but again, more expensive than cider vinegar. There are other, similar methods to this one that will work too- making a paper cone and setting it into a jar with cider vinegar in the bottom as bait, as described here and other places, but I much prefer this method- simpler, and they're already dead so you don't have to try and drown them yourself once you've caught them.


Cooking Asshole said...

Or you can clean your kitchen regularly and never have a problem with fruit flies in the first place!

"Clean as you go, that's the sign of a pro."

How's it Taste? said...

That's true. But I just like to kill fruit flies. Drown, bitches! Drown! (If they're not jumping in fast enough for me, sometimes I'll get close and blow them in.)

Cooking Asshole said...

I bet you pour salt on slugs too...

by the way, they really like beer.

How's it Taste? said...

Nah, I'd feel bad about doing that to something that moves so slow- they don't even have a fighting chance.
Also, of course they love beer. Everyone loves beer (or at least they should).

'Beer is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy.'

-- Ben Franklin

Rechelle said...

I am going to have to give this a try. Currently plagued by fruit flies. Now I have to go read 'cooking asshole' because that is the best blog name I have ever heard.

How's it Taste? said...

Yeah, this method works great! I just wish I could convince the manager where I work to use only this and not that toxic CB-80 spray. That stuff pretty much only works on contact, but leaves a thick fog that hangs around for awhile making it difficult for the humans to breathe. Thankfully the fruit fly season there is pretty much over.
Also, besides an awesome name, the cooking asshole has one of the best food blogs you'll ever read.