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Fruit flies are small flies, about 1/8" long, that are named for their propensity to feed on decaying organic matter such as rotting or fermenting fruits. Although fruit flies are not known to be vectors disease, they can and do transport bacteria that can grow and develop on fruit and other organic matter, sometimes rendering them unsuitable for human consumption. Using an organ known as an ovipositor, fruit flies are able to puncture or pierce through the exterior of various fruits as they deposit their eggs, creating a pathway or entry point for invading bacteria. Fruit flies have become quite common in many areas where an organic food supply is on hand, including commercial kitchens, restaurants, grocery stores, homes, schools, hospitals, and many other similar areas.
Fruit flies feed on and lay their eggs in decaying organic matter, such as fruits. When considering how to get rid of fruit flies, this should always be kept in mind. Any efforts to get rid of fruit flies that don't address the actual reasons fruit flies are there will prove to be little more than band-aids on an unhealed wound. Until or unless the source of the fruit fly problem is removed, eliminated, or resolved, the fruit fly infestation is likely to persist.
When assessing your fruit fly situation and trying to determine how to get rid of fruit flies, it is important to recognize that not all flies that look like fruit flies are actually fruit flies. Phorid flies and drain flies often look and act very similar to fruit flies, but require different treatment measures to effectively get rid of.
With fruit flies, the first (and sometimes only) consideration should be whether any decaying organic matter is apparent and accessible that might be able to be quickly taken out of the impacted area. If there is a decaying basket of lemons next to the stove that is teeming with fruit flies, for example, an important first step would be removing the lemons. Phorid flies and drain flies are more commonly associated with bacteria buildup in and around drains and plumbing fixtures, and may often require chemical or anti-microbial treatment measures to resolve.
Understanding the fruit fly life cycle can tell you a lot about how these pests can best be controlled. Fruit flies go through four life stages: eggs, larvae, pupae and adults.
Adult female fruit flies lay up to 20 eggs into ripening or maturing fruit or other organic matter. These eggs then hatch in 2-4 days, emerging as larvae. An adult female fruit fly may lay more than 400 eggs over the course of its lifetime.
Fruit Fly larvae (also known as fruit fly maggots) begin to feed inside the fruit (or host material) accompanied by certain bacteria that had been introduced by the female as the eggs were being laid. The combined activity of larval feeding and bacterial activity begins to cause the fruit to rot from the inside out.
Mature fruit fly larvae eventually leave the fruit, burrow into the soil, and begin to pupate. During this fruit fly pupation process, pupal case or protective cocoon begins to from, and the adult fruit fly develops.
Under ideal conditions, adult fruit flies may begin emerge to emerge from the pupal stage in as little as seven days. In cooler, winter months, the fruit fly pupation process may take several months. As adult fruit flies begin to emerge, they begin to seek the nourishment needed to finish the maturation process, begin to breed, and eventually lay eggs of their own.
Obviously you want to know how to get rid of fruit flies as simply and quickly as possible. On the bright side, getting rid of fruit flies requires just one simple step: eliminate the source of the fruit fly problem. Other things can help with the symptoms, like fruit fly traps to catch fruit flies, or fruit fly sprays to kill adult fruit flies. But getting rid of fruit flies simply requires getting rid of the source. So how do you do find the source of a fruit fly problem?
Start by disinfecting. Clean off your kitchen countertops and thoroughly disinfect all surfaces, including cracks and joints where organic matter may become lodged. (Remember, fruit flies are tiny insects with tiny eggs, and a small particle of decaying matter can serve as a suitable habitat for fruit fly feeding and reproduction). Remove items from drawers, cabinets, and cupboards, again disinfecting all surfaces and joints. To get rid of fruit flies, eliminate all debris and disinfect like crazy.
Pull out appliances such as ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers, and microwaves. Throughout the course of normal living, food particles have a tendency to get lost beneath or behind appliances. When these food items are in the form of organic matter, they have the potential to become ideal sources for fruit fly habitation. To get rid of fruit flies, make sure there is none of this food debris in or around your appliances.
Inspect food storage areas. Take a close look at areas where you keep fruits, vegetables, or other organic matter, and clean all around these areas. Where do you keep your potatoes? Bananas? Melons? Anything at all. Inspect, remove, and clean.
Launder all dishcloths, towels, and rags. Sometimes the towels or cloths we use to clean our kitchens actually starts to become rife with bacteria and organic matter. Don't take anything for granted. Remove all those items and launder them.
Get rid of all moisture. Have a look around the area for any areas that might collect moisture and get rid of them. From wet rags to droplets of water forming in the sink basin, simple things like this could contribute to a fruit fly problem.
Check the garbage disposal and drains. Sometimes, drains can become clogged and organic matter can start to build up. This commonly happens when a garbage disposal stops working properly. To get rid of fruit flies, make sure no organic matter is collecting in the pipes.
Remove potted plants: Although less common with fruit flies, some potted plants, particularly ones the may be oversaturated, can collect organic matter in a way that lends itself to a fruit fly infestation. Consider relocating any potted plants to an outdoor environment while the fruit fly problem is being resolved.
Following these guidelines, you should stand a pretty good chance of eliminating the source of the fruit fly problem and getting rid of fruit flies altogether. Remember, the fruit fly problem isn't going to disappear immediately after getting rid of the source of the problem, and fruit fly traps can be used to speed up the process. Pest Supply HQ provides easy access to purchasing effective fruit fly traps to assist with your fruit fly treatment program.