The fruit flies you see circling around the overripe fruit on your kitchen counter can be a true annoyance. Even more so when you spot them swarming out or flying inside your refrigerator. The pesky creatures are not only bothersome; they can also be bad for your health. Is there a way to get rid of them for good?
You can use an insect spray or a variety of homemade traps to get rid of the adult fruit flies in your fridge. However, these methods won’t stop eggs from hatching. Thus, you’ll have to clean your fridge thoroughly to combat a fruit fly infestation for good.
Fruit Flies in Fridge: How Do They Get In?
There is nothing more annoying than being met by a colony of fruit flies when you open the fridge door. These tiny bugs look harmless and definitely less disgusting than common houseflies, but they can transmit diseases and infections in the same way.
Like all flies – and many other flying bugs, as a matter of fact – fruit flies can transfer germs from a dirty surface onto a clean one.
Some of the most dangerous pathogens they can spread include E. coli, listeria, and salmonella. All these microorganisms can give you serious food poisoning and can be life-threatening.
To prevent them from spreading, you have to keep your house and fridge pest-free. But to get rid of the fruit flies in your fridge, you must first understand how they get in.
There are three possible ways for fruit flies to get inside your refrigerator:
- Unwashed fruit and vegetables: Fruit flies owe their name to the fact that they are attracted to ripe and rotting fruit and vegetables. During the growth period, the harvest, or even while waiting on a shelf, fresh fruits and vegetables can be placed close to rotten produce that attracts fruit flies. These tiny creatures can then rest on the fresh produce you buy or lay their eggs on those products. For this reason, it is essential to wash all fruits and veggies before placing them in the fridge.
- They make their way in when you open the door: If you like to keep a basket of fruit on your countertop, fruit flies can get into your home attracted by the ripe or rotten smell of those products. Once they get inside your house, they can easily make their way into the fridge when you open the door to get some food.
- They can crawl in: Another way for fruit flies to get into the fridge is through the pipe that gets condensation and melted ice out of your fridge. Not only can fruit flies get inside the fridge through this pipe, but they can also lay their eggs in the drip pan or directly into the pipe.
Home Remedy: 5 Quick Ways To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies In Refrigerator
To get rid of the fruit flies in your fridge, you must first get rid of all adult flies to prevent them from multiplying. Then, you must clean the refrigerator to get rid of the eggs and maggots. Here are a few quick methods you can use.
1. Make a Wine Trap
Fruit flies are attracted by the scent of alcohol, ripened fruit or vegetables, and sugary drinks. They can smell these scents from miles away and won’t be able to resist a wine trap smartly placed in your fridge.
All you need is a deeper dish or a glass. Pour a bit of leftover wine in it, then cover with plastic film and secure it with an elastic band. Use a toothpick to poke some holes into the film, giving the flies enough space to get in – fruit flies can squeeze through tiny spaces to get to the source of the smell.
Once they’re in, they will generally be unable to get back out. Leave the glass in the fridge overnight and clear it in the morning.
2. Make a Rotten Fruit Trap
Place a few pieces of rotten or ripened fruit in a jar or glass, then cover it with plastic film or with a paper cone positioned with the narrow side up. If using plastic film, poke some holes in it with a toothpick. Leave the jar in the fridge overnight to attract all adult fruit flies. Ripened bananas, melon, strawberries, and grapes are some of the best fruits to use.
3. Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Like rotten fruit and wine, apple cider vinegar has that sweet, fruity scent that fruit flies love. You can use the same method you’d use for a wine trap to set up an apple cider vinegar trap.
4. Use Vinegar and Dish Soap
If you have a few drops of apple cider vinegar left in a bottle, you don’t have to open another bottle to set your apple cider vinegar trap. Even a small quantity of vinegar can do the trick.
To catch the flies, coat the bottle’s neck with dish soap and place the vinegar bottle in the fridge. The apple cider vinegar drops will lure the fruit flies in, while the dish soap will make it impossible for them to get back out.
This method also works if you have some leftover wine, but not enough to set up a proper wine trap. Leave the drops in the bottle, coat its neck with dish soap, and leave it in the fridge overnight.
5. Make a Yeast and Sugar Trap
This quick remedy provides you with a great solution if you don’t have fruits, wine, or apple cider vinegar at hand.
Mix a packet of activated dry yeast (the one you’d use to make bread or other yeast doughs) into a quarter cup of water. Add a teaspoon of sugar and a spoon or two of dish soap.
Pour the mixture into a jar and cover with a cone of paper, placed with the narrow side up. The yeast and sugar will attract the flies, while the dish soap will trap them into the jar.
Cleaning The Fridge And Freezer
While catching adult fruit flies is easy using the methods above, you also have to deal with the eggs and maggots.
An adult fruit fly can lay about 2,000 eggs on any moist and rotting surface. Among these surfaces, you can include your fridge’s condensation tray, the condensation pipe, ripened fruit and vegetables you keep in the fridge, etc. Maggots need about 30 hours to hatch, and within two days, they are adults ready to mate.
The problem is that all methods above have no effect on fruit fly eggs and maggots. Thus, cleaning the fridge is the only way to get rid of them. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1 – Gather the supplies
The best way to clean your fridge and freezer when you’re trying to get rid of fruit flies is with a bleach solution. You’ll need:
- Unscented bleach
- Hot water
- Dish soap
- Soft rags
- Sealed bags
Step 2 – Get rid of any ripened or rotting fruits and vegetables
As explained above, fruit flies can lay eggs on rotten fruits and vegetables, so you have to get rid of them first.
Use sealed bags to throw away all the recalled food you have in the fridge, then seal the garbage bag and take it out immediately.
Step 3 – Empty your fridge and freezer
Take out all the other food items you have in your fridge and store them on the counter; you can keep them out for up to two hours.
Use a cool box or camping cooler to store all food you have in the freezer, then unplug the appliance and let the ice in your freezer thaw – most modern fridges prevent ice from accumulating, but that might not be the case if you have an older refrigerator. Lastly, take out all shelves, drawers, and other removable parts.
Step 4 – Clean the fridge and freezer
Use dish soap and hot water to make a soapy solution and soak a soft rag in it. Use the damp cloth to clean the interior of your fridge and freezer.
In a separate basin, use hot soapy water to wash all shelves, drawers, and the other removable parts you’ve taken out.
Rinse all parts and wipe the fridge and freezer with a rag soaked in clean water to remove all soap residues.
Step 5 – Disinfect your fridge and freezer
In a bucket, mix one tablespoon of unscented bleach into one gallon of water. Use this solution to wipe the interior of your fridge and freezer. Also, wipe each shelf, drawer, and the other parts you’ve removed from the fridge. Pay particular attention to the rubber seal that keeps the doors closed, as flies can lay eggs in the folds.
Step 6 – Put the shelves and food back into the fridge
When you’re done, wipe the fridge and freezer with a dry cloth to remove excess moisture and plug in the appliance.
Put the shelves, drawers, and any other removable parts back in, then start putting your food back into the fridge and freezer. Wipe each food container with hot soapy water before returning it to the refrigerator to get rid of any eggs that may lay on them.
Once you’ve finished cleaning, wash your hands with soap and hot water, then wipe all counters and the exterior of your fridge with hot soapy water. Disinfect all surfaces with a bleach solution, then wash your hands again.
Fruit Fly Infestation in Kitchen: 3 Best Chemical Remedies
While the homemade remedies above can help you get rid of adult fruit flies inside your refrigerator, chemical remedies give you the means to deal with their eggs and maggots.
Pyrethrin sprays and automatic dispensers provide homeowners with an effective way of controlling the adult fruit fly population. Use the product with caution in areas where you handle food, but feel free to spray liberally near the drains or garbage disposal.
Insect growth regulator (IGR) sprays containing hydroprene are an excellent choice for dealing with the entire fruit fly population, including eggs and larvae. Spray the aerosol near breeding points, such as flower pots, mats, drains, garbage disposal, etc.
Professional Fruit Fly Traps
These fruit traps contain chemical cocktails, called liquid attractants, which lure adult fruit flies inside them. They work like the homemade remedies highlighted above but are more effective when dealing with large colonies.
Most professional traps are made from food-grade ingredients, so they are safe to use in the kitchen.
Eco-Friendly Fruit Fly Products
Similar to aerosols, these sprays are made from natural ingredients. Some may contain certain bacteria that shorten the fruit flies’ life cycle. These products affect adult flies, as well as maggots. The eggs may not be affected, but the product will kill the maggots as soon as they hatch.
Sprays containing peppermint extract are another choice for getting rid of fruit flies naturally. These sprays are suitable to use in kitchens.
How To Keep Your Refrigerator Pest-Free
Once you’ve gotten rid of fruit flies, you should focus your efforts on preventing future infestations. Here’s how to keep your fridge pest-free.
Keep Up On Cleanliness
Keeping the fridge clean is essential if you want to prevent pests. Deep-clean the fridge once a month, using the method above.
Go through the fridge weekly and throw away rotten or spoiled food, then learn to keep everything organized and in containers.
Keep Your Fruits and Vegetables in Closed Containers
Fruit flies are attracted by the smell of rotten fruits and vegetables, so they have no reason to get inside the fridge if they can’t detect the smell.
You should only buy as much food as you plan to consume and place it in closed containers to keep it fresh and pest-free for longer.
Patch Up Your Fridge
If you have an older fridge, inspect it thoroughly and use a repair filler to patch up any small holes, cracks, and crevices the pests could use to crawl in. If the appliance is damaged beyond repair, consider investing in a new fridge.
Frequently Asked Questions
Fruit flies are not the only tiny bugs that can live in your fridge. Check out the answers below to find out more about the matter.
How to differentiate between fruit flies and gnats?
Fruit flies and gnats have similar looks, but you have to identify the right species for proper pest control. The main difference between them is the size.
Fruit flies are larger, measuring about 1/8 of an inch in length. Gnats rarely exceed 1/4 of an inch in length. Fruit flies are brown or brown-yellow in color, with red eyes and short antennae. Gnats are brown, black, or yellow, with long antennae and legs.
Can fruit flies survive in the refrigerator?
Yes, fruit flies can thrive in the refrigerator, and their eggs can survive the frigid temperatures in the freezer. Fruit fly maggots can also survive in the freezer for a few hours. Moreover, fruit fly adults have the ability to “overwinter” when the temperatures get too extreme for them, surviving cold temperatures and laying new eggs when the conditions get favorable again.
Fruit flies in the refrigerator are bad for your health and a true annoyance. Getting rid of them is a multi-step process that requires you to kill the adults, maggots, and eggs alike. Moreover, you should also get rid of other fruit fly colonies in your home and adopt measures to prevent them from returning.
Have you ever had fruit flies in your refrigerator before? Do you have any tips or questions? Leave us a comment.