How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in House Plants

A little movement here, a sway of the hand there, and from your lovely plants bursts a hoard of these tiny critters! Sometimes it seems like fruit flies are everywhere.

Fruit flies breed at an exponential rate, and so it feels that there is no end to them. How can you possibly root them out?

In this post, we look at answering that very question. Here are a few proven ways to get rid of fruit flies from your house plants.

How to get rid of fruit flies in house plants.
Female Mexican fruit fly

Basic Steps You Can Take to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in House Plants

1. Change Your Watering Routine

Fruit flies thrive in moist conditions. All they need is a little dampness, and they start breeding in no time. 

So consider changing your watering habits. If your house plants need less water than what you’re already giving them, then reduce the watering. It will help with making the surroundings drier, and thus help control fruit flies in your house plants.

If gauging the moisture levels in the soil is hard for you, get a moisture sensor. With this device, you’ll be able to tell how wet the soil is.

2. Turn the Soil

One way to affect the breeding cycle of fruit flies is by disturbing the soil. The fruit fly larvae thrive under the surface of the soil, where it’s damp and dark. By turning the soil regularly, you expose the larvae to the light and dry air above.

In some cases, you may have to re-pot the plant if the problem is too widespread. Remove the infected soil and place it in a plastic bag. The airtight conditions will suffocate the larvae and kill them off. Sanitize the pot thoroughly before reusing them.

3. Attack the Root Problem

Not the literal roots of your plants, which would be horrible, but the source of the problem. Fruit flies are attracted to rotting fruits and leaves. 

They also delightfully feast on any fungus that grows. Be meticulous in removing damaged fruit, leaves and clearing any fungus. Rub your plants with alcohol or spray them with dishwashing liquid to get rid of the fungus.

4. Control the Humidity

Moist conditions are a breeding ground for fruit flies. Their favorite food source, fungus, also grows when it’s too humid. Ensure that you’re not overwatering your plants. 

Empty trays from underneath the pots, where excess water is collected.

These four steps can help you to get you get rid of fruit flies from your house plants. Along with these, consider setting up traps to catch the fruit flies.

Set Up Traps

1. Lure Them

Fruit flies are attracted to beer, vinegar, and wine. Mix any one of these with some dishwashing liquid to create a trap. 

Pour the solution into a container and cover it with some food wrap. Puncture holes with a toothpick on the wrap to allow the fruit flies to enter the trap. Once they enter the container, they will drown in the solution, with escape impossible because of the covering.

Place the trap near the infected plants, and wait. Sure enough, you’ll have several fruit flies plunge to their demise in the solution. Clear out the dead flies regularly.

2. Use Fly-eating Plants

There are over 600 species of carnivorous plants in the world. Having at least one of those near your houseplants will help immensely.

The most common insect-eating plants are Pitcher plants and the Venus Flytrap. They are a natural method of pest control. Very effective too.

3. Trap them with Rotten Fruit

This trap is similar to the dishwashing liquid and vinegar solution. Instead of throwing out rotting fruit or vegetables, use them to attract fruit flies into a trap. 

Place the decaying produce in a container and cover it with food wrap. Ensure that there are toothpick-sized holes in the food wrap for the flies to gain entry. Once they’re in, dispose of the spoiled fruit along with the trapped fruit flies.

4. Candle Trap

Fruit flies cannot see at night. So they would make a beeline to any light source they find. Now, what if the light source they fly to is a trap? 

That’s precisely what the candle trap is. As the fruit flies near the candle flame, they get incinerated to death. To doubly ensure their passing, place a water bowl under the candle so that those pests who don’t burn to death will surely drown in the water below. 

Ensure that the candle is placed in a safe environment to avoid damage.

Once you’ve set up your traps, consider including preventive measures (mentioned further) to bolster your defense against fruit flies.

5. Use Insect Killing Machines

The idea behind using machines is the same as the candle – attract them with light. 

Place these machines near the source of the infestation, and watch the fruit flies soar towards being zapped to death by these machines. This would, of course, cost you more than a candle, but the machine is worth the investment. 

Further Preventive Measures to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in House Plants

1. Get Insect Repellant Plants

There are a few popular herbs like peppermint, lemongrass, and lavender which repel fruit flies. 

Since these are all seasonal plants, care needs to be taken when placing them. Even placing leaves of these natural repellants should suffice. Scatter them along the base of your affected plants to keep the fruit flies away.

2. Essential and Natural Oils

Buy essential oils that are made from the earlier mentioned insect repellant plants. It will have the same effect on the fruit flies. Burning these essential oils as incense will send the fruit flies away.

Other effective repellents are camphor or cedar chips. The natural oils from cedar chips act as a barrier for your house plants.

3. Have the Right Soil

You can stop fruit flies from breeding if your soil has the right mixture of organic and inorganic ingredients.

Organic ingredients like charcoal, fiber, and coconut chunks mixed with inorganic perlite will stop the growth of fruit flies. 

Using slow-decaying and well-draining soil will repel the pests from laying eggs in it. Just remember: the fresher the soil is, the higher the chances of repelling fruit flies.

4. Use Sticky Boards

Place one of these sticky traps near your house plants to catch fruit flies. The surface of the boards is covered with extremely sticky glue, and you’re bound to catch other insects as well.

5. Non-toxic Sprays

Another effective method of repelling fruit flies is by making your own repellants.

Mix a few drops of lemongrass or peppermint oil (yes, the same herbs mentioned before) with some water to create a natural solution. Spray the non-toxic repellent on your house plants to shield them from fruit fly infestation. 

While the solution is harmless to us, your pets may be allergic to it if you have any.

6. Cut Out the Air Supply

The fruit flies lay their eggs just below the surface of the soil. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae wriggle their way to the top for air. 

You can prevent the larvae from making their way to the surface by spreading a layer of coarse sand or aquarium gravel. This will smother the pests. They should die out soon after.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are fruit flies harmful?

Fruit flies can pose a potential health hazard for us humans as well. We know that they affect plants by laying their eggs in the soil or in rotting leaves and fruit. The larvae feed on the plants to grow. Fruit flies are also attracted to manure which is home to a bacteria called E.Coli. The bacteria stick to their feet and are later deposited on any surface they touch, surfaces like fruits which we may eat.

What causes fruit flies in house plants?

Fruit flies are mainly attracted to ripened fruit and damaged foliage. They are also drawn to open trash cans, garbage disposal, empty fruit juice cans, and beer bottles. Anything that’s rotting and damp is where they find themselves at home. So it’ll be wise to even clear these other breeding grounds. Clean out the trash regularly, replace old soil, and keep all surfaces dry and clean. Many times, fruit flies breed in drains. There’s no way of knowing how bad the infestation is inside drains.  So it’s best to get some drain gel that traps and kills fruit flies.

Should I get pesticides?

If you’ve tried homemade remedies and want to go the other route, you can try exterminating the fruit flies using pesticides. It’s best to check with your local garden store for any house plant pesticides that actually work. Hiring a professional pest control service is highly effective but may cost you a lot of money.

What seasons do fruit flies thrive in?

Fruit flies are known to thrive in all seasons. What they need to survive are food waste and moist surfaces.  But they commonly appear more during harvest time, when fruits and vegetables are ripening, or when plants are in full bloom. They don’t need much to survive. They can also breed during winters when a little moisture from your kitchen sink is enough for their sustenance.

Conclusion

Getting rid of fruit flies using natural means and homemade remedies is very much within the realms of possibility. A few basic steps like changing the watering routine, controlling humidity, and clearing away dead leaves helps to deal with fruit flies.

You can even set up your own traps to catch those critters with stuff that you probably have at home. 

Things like vinegar, food wrap, dishwashing liquid, candles, etc., are things people commonly keep at home. Even if you don’t already have them, getting them from a nearby store is easy.

In a scenario when the fruit flies seem to be endless, calling in pest exterminators or using pesticides might be the best way forward.

Finally, remember that eradicating the fruit flies from your house plants will be a slow process, especially if you use natural remedies. The payoff, however, is sweet. You’ll have a picture-perfect set of house plants without the fruit flies to sour the scenery.

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