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Photo by U.S. Department of Agriculture

You’ve returned home from a long day of work, buoyed by thoughts of sinking your teeth into that amazing doughnut peach from last weekend’s farmers’ market haul. You reach your fruit bowl, practically feeling the sweet juiciness dribbling down your chin, when to your horror you see a mini swarm of fruit flies having a raging party on top of that prized peach. Make that prized compost bin fodder.Does this scenario sound hauntingly familiar? I.e., is it happening right now in your own kitchen? Summer’s pleasures are innumerable, but the season’s heat does have a gross downside: the invasion of fruit flies. Hot weather speeds up the ripening (and fermentation) of fruit, which draws droves of the bugs to feed on the sweet stuff like it’s going out of style. And it just gets grosser: If the flies hang around long enough, they can lay eggs (over 100 per day) near the surface of the food, which perpetuates the cycle. But fear not. With a few tricks and some patience, this pestilence can be stopped.

1. Don’t give them a breeding ground

Storing fruit outside of the fridge allows for a more flavorful experience, it’s true. But this gives the fruit flies an opportunity to binge. Eat fruit in a timely period or store in the fridge if it’s starting to ripen.

2. Be diligent with compost

Kitchen countertop compost bins are a rotting food scrap buffet, a.k.a. a fruit fly’s paradise. If you’ve ever opened the lid and had a whole mess of flies come charging out, once is enough. Remove compost from your home at least once a day.

3. Clean thoroughly

Overlooked spills and splatters in neglected corners of the kitchen can attract flies. Even wine (fermented fruit!) poured down the sink drain can create an unfortunate hot spot.

The vinegar and soap method in action. Photo by Flickr user Jeremy Noble.

4. Trap them with these DIY methods

An effective DIY method for trapping and eliminating, to use an euphemism, utilizes everyday items you probably already have in the house. Pour a cup of apple cider vinegar and a couple drops of dish soap into a small bowl. Optional: cover the bowl with plastic wrap and poke a few holes in the surface. Leave it out on the counter near your greatest fruit fly infestation spot, and you’ll be surprised at how effectively it works. You can set up a few of these around the kitchen for extra insurance. Just be sure to empty and replenish each dish at least once a day to mitigate the ick factor (you’ll catch a lot of them and it ain’t pretty).

Another easy method is the soda bottle trap. You could also hang up fly paper, but in this case be careful about its placement. The last thing you need is a fly paper hairdo.

If you want to get gadgety, you can invest in an eek-o, a sleekly designed, self-professed “bait activator” system. Although it’ll cost you upwards of $6, and I must say the vinegar and soap trick really works for me.

Have you had any luck with other methods for getting rid of fruit flies in your kitchen? Share your tricks in the comments!

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