Has this ever happened to you? You’re washing a dish in the kitchen sink and notice a small creature shoot up out of the drain. Was that a gnat? Then you notice more of them zooming around the kitchen. These irritating little guys are actually fruit flies. And if you’re asking how they got in there and what you can do about them, you’re in the right place.
Why Are They Here?
Fruit flies live all over the U.S., and spread quickly. According to WebMD, “An adult female fruit fly can lay up to 2,000 eggs on the surface of anything that's moist and rotting. Within 30 hours, tiny maggots hatch and start to eat the decayed food. Within two days, they're all grown up and ready to mate.” As they’re lured by moisture and decomposing food, they’ll head for your trash can, your overripe fruit and the kitchen drain, which is full of moisture and tiny bits of food. Sometimes you’ll watch them appear up out of the drain. This can be particularly bad if you have a somewhat clogged sink or disposal that clears out slowly. This retains more moisture and food debris that draws these insects and enables them to thrive and reproduce.
How Bad Are They?
When fruit flies move from a dirty surface to a clean one, they lug germs with them. This may include listeria, salmonella and even E. coli. All of these bacteria can result in severe cases of food poisoning.
What Can I Do About Them?
Because of this bacterial exposure, keep high-traffic surfaces clean at all times. Use a kitchen surface cleaner that kills bacteria. Don’t reuse sponges that can soak up, retain and exchange germs. It’s better to use paper towels and dispose of them.
Bug sprays can kill off the adult fruit flies but won’t kill the eggs. And you likely don’t want to spray insecticide all over your kitchen. Instead, run boiling water in your drain. Before bed, block off your drains with clear packing tape. Every morning, you can see some fruit flies stuck to it.
Here are other ideas you can also attempt, all utilizing a jar:
- Wine—Place an ounce of wine inside the jar. Make a hole in the lid so the fruit flies can access the wine. You can also use a funnel or paper cone instead of a lid.
- Rotten fruit—Same as above, but use rotten fruit in place of wine.
- Apple cider vinegar—Same as above but you'll use apple cider vinegar.
- Apple cider vinegar and dish soap—Same as above with dish liquid in addition, which makes it harder for flies to break free.
- Yeast—Put in two or three ounces of water, one packet of activated dry yeast as well as a teaspoon of sugar.
To avoid bringing in fruit flies:
- Clean your produce as soon as you take it home. Sometimes they can have fruit fly eggs or larvae.
- Refrigerate as soon as you can.
- Avoid keeping old produce in your kitchen. Buy only what you’re likely to eat.
- Empty your kitchen trash often, and keep it closed.
- Keep your surfaces clean and disinfected.
- If you want to keep windows open, make sure they have well-fitted screens.
If the above methods haven’t resolved your fruit fly problem, there could also be a problem with your p-trap. That’s the area of your drain pipe bent in a u shape to trap water and keep foul air from wafting up into your home. It also prevents flies from hiding in your pipes and flying up from the drain. If your pipe has a leak and lacks a water seal, this can lead to a fruit fly problem. Run the water and search below for a leak. If you spot one, get it fixed quickly. Leaky pipes can encourage mold and structural damage to your home.
You should also call a plumber if your kitchen sink or garbage disposal is draining more slowly than usual. This problem not only helps attract fruit flies, but over time the sink drain can entirely clog and become useless. The Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning plumbing team has the tools, experience and expertise to diagnose the problem and solve it promptly. We employ a video drain inspector to clearly see what’s happening inside the pipes, and a number of methods to clean them, depending on the type and severity of the blockage. If the problem is a garbage disposal, we can repair or replace it at a price you can afford. We also handle leaky pipes.
If you want any sort of plumbing service at all, get in touch with the professionals at Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning. Whether we’re warming, cooling or making the water run, we take great pride in keeping our customers happy. With more than 4,000 team members, we can deliver and innovate better than anyone. Our can-do family attitude helps us get the job done on time, and right—the first time.