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Pest control: dealing with fruit flies

Fruit flies reproduce so quickly that a couple becomes a swarm in the blink of an eye. Our Which? Trusted Traders-endorsed pest controllers tell us more.
fruit flies

What are fruit flies?

Fruit flies (also known as vinegar flies) are the slow-moving, bulbous-bodied flies that often appear when 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.

As well as feeding on alcoholic food sources, they also lay eggs in them at a rate of 20 to 25 per day. These eggs mature in as little as eight days, so they can become a nuisance very quickly.

If you are struggling with fruit flies, Which? Trusted Traders has endorsed pest controllers in your local area.

What attracts fruit flies?

In addition to rotting fruits and vegetables, other collections of damp food particles are also an attractive place for fruit flies to feed and lay eggs. 

  • Cracks, corners and crevices: Sometimes, when people sweep their kitchen and then mop afterwards, the soggy crumbs can ferment and turn into a food source.
  • The U-bend: A small leak will lead food particles to build up somewhere – an ideal home 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

Clear the source

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’s required. 

 ‘You need to find the source of the nest,’ Pestmaster’s Greg Ferguson told us. ‘Sometimes it will be a drain or an overflow pipe rather than food. You can treat for fruit flies, but until you find the source of the problem, they’ll keep coming back.’

A thorough clean that removes every trace of sticky stuff is a good start. Once you’ve found the source of the problem, you can spray insecticide around the area and on to the nest. If it’s a leaking pipe, that will need fixing, too. Always read the instructions carefully when using a fly spray of any kind.

Clear the remaining flies

You can do this using sticky papers, which have one highly adhesive side and cost around £1 for a small pack. Put them where the flies like to sit – usually the ceiling or the underside of a cupboard shelf. 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.  

When to call in a professional

If the problem persists despite your best efforts, you may want to call in a professional to identify the source.

A good pest controller will visit your property to look at the problem before giving you a quote.

Which? Trusted Traders has endorsed pest controllers in your local area. All our endorsed Which? Trusted traders have successfully passed our rigorous assessment process, which includes a visit from a trading standards professional.

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