Fruit flies can be a nuisance, and it seems like they appear out of nowhere in large numbers.
Because they’re drawn to sweet smelling liquids and decaying matter, they could possibly mistake your fruity and gourmand candle wax pools for syrupy drinks. But sweet-smelling candles won’t cause fruit flies to take command of your kitchen.
Read on to learn more about what attracts fruit flies and causes them to multiply. And more importantly, how you can get rid of these annoying pests.
Do Scented Candles Attract or Repel Fruit Flies?
Well, it depends on the scent. There are some scented candles that fruit flies detest. Citronella candles for example, would repel a fruit fly.
When it comes to fruity and sweet scents, though. It’s possible for a fruit fly to draw close and want to hang out for a minute. Fruit flies rely on sugary and fermented liquids, ripened produce, sap, and similar sources of nourishment and breeding pockets.
Using their antennae, they can locate these items from quite a distance. They also prefer warmer temperatures. So it is possible for a fruit fly to mistake a warm pool of strawberry shortcake wax for a delicious meal.
The Life Cycle of a Fruit Fly
It doesn’t take long for an egg to develop into an adult fruit fly. They become larvae within just 24 hours after being laid – often burrowed into the skin of fruit. These two stages last about a week. From there it only takes another six days or so for them to grow through the pupal stage and then become an adult fruit fly.
Within 8 to 24 hours after their emergence, fruit flies can begin to mate and reproduce. A fruit fly lives up to a month. They’re fertile for the duration. And there’s power in numbers.
In addition to being able to store inseminations for future egg production, female fruit flies can lay up to 500 eggs at once.
Fruit flies can often seem to magically appear. But the truth is that they have a short reproduction cycle and hundreds of them can be bred at the same time. Within days you can easily go from three to 300 fruit flies in one space.
How Do Fruit Flies Enter Your Home?
Because fruit flies are so small, it’s more difficult to trace how they enter the home. Oftentimes, you can’t see them until they fly directly into your face or around your favorite mug.
Here’s how they enter:
From Market to Home
You can unknowingly bring fruit fly larvae home with you from the market. Female fruit flies lay their eggs in over ripened fruit. But even if you avoid buying bruised fruit, it’s not always possible to see the eggs or larvae because they are so small and can even take on the color of the organic material. (That’s actually kinda cool, though, right? Camouflaged eggs!)
Windows & Doors
Other avenues for entry into your home include broken screens and gaps. If you notice punctures in your window screens, it can help to get those fixed to prevent fruit flies and other insects from entering your home.
Gaps between the door and its frame are another point of breach. If your door has missing panels, or wide spaces, not repairing them makes you vulnerable to fruit fly entry.
How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies
Fruit flies might only be 3-4mm in length, but the amount of frustration experienced from their presence is nearly immeasurable. But not all hope is lost. If you’re noticing these winged brown invaders in your home, you can get rid of them.
Clean Your Fresh Produce
Since you never really know what you might be carrying into your home via fresh fruits and vegetables, be sure to clean your produce as soon as you bring it into your home.
If possible, avoid leaving fresh produce on the counter to ripen. Refrigerating them can prevent the fruit flies from reproducing because they prefer warmer temperatures.
But if you do leave them on the counter, make sure they’re covered or placed in an air-tight container after cleaning them.
If fruit flies aren’t given an opportunity to lay eggs, they will die within weeks, and you’ll no longer have an infestation.
Ditch Rotten Produce
If you find it difficult to throw away produce that’s going bad, maybe try composting or searching for another way to repurpose it? But get rid of it somehow because rotten produce is a breeding playground for fruit flies.
Sanitize Your Kitchen
Moist places like slimy drains, decaying food on dirty dishes, and dirty mop water are ideal for fruit fly breeding as well. You can be certain that they will feel right at home near any sweet decaying material, even old bottles of alcoholic beverages.
Any place where you might have spilled fruit juice or any sweet liquids, would be fair game as well. Be sure to clean up spills right away, especially during warmer months.
Then sanitize your counters, cabinet knobs – all surfaces. Change your garbage bags and empty recycling bins as often as necessary. Clean the exterior surfaces of those bins as well as your appliance surfaces.
This may seem excessive but oftentimes you can’t see fruit fly larvae with the naked eye. They can be developing in areas of the kitchen you frequent, without you even knowing it.
Don’t Forget the Drains
Sometimes we clean surfaces and forget about the hidden spots in the kitchen. For starters, you can carefully pour boiling water down your drain and garbage disposal. Try pouring around the perimeter to loosen up the grunge on the walls of the drain.
Then I would suggest sanitizing both the drain and garbage disposal with products like, Fizzy Drain and Grab Green garbage disposal freshener and cleaner pods.
Fizzy Drain uses enzymes to deep clean your plumbing. The pods will remove slimy grime and leave behind the scent of lemongrass, which would deter further fruit fly breeding.
Set Simple DIY Traps
If you’re so annoyed with a fruit fly infestation that you’re prepared to call an exterminator, don’t call for help just yet. It’s possible to trap fruit flies using simple tools and ingredients that you probably already have at home.
The Fermentation Trap
Fermented liquids are an absolute attraction for fruit flies. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln explains how you can use yeast to trap, and then dispose of them.
- Start by pouring ¼ to ⅓ cup of warm water into a glass jar.
- Sprinkle a pack of active dry yeast over the water along with one teaspoon of sugar. Stir the ingredients and watch the mixture foam up.
- At this point you can cover the jar with plastic wrap, holding it in place with a rubber band or something similar.
Carefully poke small holes into the plastic with a sharp point, like the tip of a knife or sharp pencil.
Results are often immediate. Leave the yeast trap on the counter for a few days, and you’ll be amazed at how many fruit flies find their way into the jar but not out of it.
This same process works with other fermented liquids like beer or wine. Sugary drinks like soda and fruit juice will also yield results.
The ACV Trap
Lastly, we have another fermented option, apple cider vinegar (ACV). Aside from sugary liquids, ACV is a fruit fly’s dream.
If you don’t have plastic wrap or another cover that you can poke holes in, you might want to try creating a funnel.
- Pour a small amount of ACV into a glass jar, and then take a square sheet of paper and curl it into the shape of a funnel.
- Place the paper funnel in the glass jar. Let it uncurl a little so that it’s held in place by the jar’s opening.
Before you know it, it’ll be covered with fruit flies. Another trap successfully set.
What If You Prefer to Use a Candle to Attract Fruit Flies?
I get it, you may have just realized that you have a fruit fly problem and don’t have time to thoroughly clean or experiment with the DIY traps.
In that case, light candles with scents that fruit flies hate:
There are also blends, like this Lemongrass Eucalyptus candle by Chesapeake Bay.
Pine & Clove is another great scent blend to ward off fruit flies.
The only caveat is that the candles would have to be close to where you’re sitting in order to be effective. In a larger space, burn more than one candle-like one every two to three feet.
Scented candles might fool fruit flies for a moment, but you don’t have to worry about fruit flies multiplying simply because you have a sweet smelling candle lit. It’s highly unlikely that they would lay eggs in your candle or even fly around it for long.
If you follow the steps in this article, though, you can address your fruit fly problem and prevent another infestation.