Pardon me! More information on fruit flies

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.  

It’s always flattering to hear from readers. In the September 7 Landscape CAT Alert issue, I wrote about fruit flies, and admittedly, I was a bit cavalier in my remarks. Two readers wrote to tell me that there is an easy solution to fruit flies and I want to share with you their insights (and my failings).

This from a Macomb County reader

As a Master Gardener, I look forward to receiving your alerts in our weekly e-news. I was, however, disappointed at your option for dealing with fruit flies. Yes, emptying the garbage more frequently helps, but “A little spray of a household aerosol insecticide will also help keep their numbers down” doesn’t seem like IPM to me.

An option given at our Master Gardener class a few years ago was to use a small jar with a homemade paper cone set on top of it. A bit of juice or rotting fruit in the bottom would attract the flies, while the cone shape kept them in the jar to die. I hadn’t tried this method until this summer. Instead of a paper cone, I simply set my kitchen funnel into a tall wine glass with a splash of wine in the bottom of the glass. The flies seemed to like the wine much better than the juice. Every day I simply emptied my trap and replaced the splash of wine. The pests were gone in no time, and I wasn’t spraying chemicals into our family home.

This from a Leelanau County reader

Howard Russell gives up to fruit flies too easily! Try the following as an experiment. You will be delighted. It works.

Ahh, there is a solution to the fruit fly plague. Insecticide spray? Oh no! (They seem to be immune!) The solution is apple cider vinegar! It is routine at our house, surrounded on the Leelanau peninsula by orchards of various fruits, to lay out the fruit fly traps this time of year. They WILL inevitably get in the house, so we put up our defenses. Here it is:

Fill several juice glasses, (or smaller), with apple cider vinegar to about 2/3rds full. Add a drop or two, no more, of liquid dishwashing soap to the vinegar and swirl a bit. Stretch ‘handywrap’ or similar (we use ‘stretch-tite’) across the top of the glass so it is taut. A rubber band around the perimeter will hold it in place, if not natural attraction. Punch about a dozen or so holes in the ‘handywrap’ with a toothpick and set out the traps, one in the kitchen and one in each bathroom. (Various colognes etc., attract the rascals to the bathrooms. And they love mirrors!) Oh, if you have a serious problem, empty and refresh about every week or so. Guaranteed to work!

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