How to Make a DIY Fruit Fly Trap

  • Written By Dan Edwards on February 2, 2021
    Last Updated: February 2, 2021

If you want to keep fruit flies away, good household hygiene is the key. It’s not a guarantee they’ll be completely gone from your kitchen, though. Luckily there are a few simple ways to get rid of them.

You can eliminate fruit flies from your home by:

  • Taking basic preventive measures
  • Making DIY fruit fly traps using vinegar
  • Using other substances, such as essential oils, fermented dairy products or wine

What You Need to Know About Fruit Flies

Fruit flies tend to lurk where food is left out in the open. They can be found at home, in restaurants, at the fruit and vegetable market, and in supermarkets. This means you can bring them home when buying over-ripened fruits at the market.

Flies lay their eggs near the organic, moist area of fermenting foods. They lay about 500 eggs, and it’ll take a week for fruit flies to emerge and develop into adults. This means they multiply fast and can contaminate food with unwanted pathogens. If you want to avoid this, prevention is a good way to go.

Preventive Measures Against Fruit Flies

If you follow these preventive steps, you minimize the possibility of fruit fly infestation in your home:

  • Avoid purchasing over-ripened fruits or vegetables
  • Wash fruit and vegetables and keep them in the fridge
  • Make sure everything ripe is eaten fast, discarded or at least refrigerated
  • If you find damaged or cracked parts of fruits and vegetables, cut them away and refrigerate the produce. Refrigerating is necessary as fruit flies are injured by cold
  • Discard your organic waste at least daily
  • Do your dishes regularly and clean the sink after
  • Make sure your drain is cleaned out regularly as well
  • If you compost, make sure you freeze the organic waste before gathering it outside. This will kill the flies and their eggs
  • Keep some traps near your compost site

Vinegar-based DIY Traps

Research has proven that fruit flies are attracted to acetoin — a fermentation compound found in dairy foods and vinegar. That’s why vinegar traps are the most popular DIY fly traps to use at home.

Besides being effective, they’re also economical. You’ll probably find everything you need to make a trap with your household supplies.

A few vinegar-based DIY fruit fly traps you can make are:

  • Vinegar with a plastic wrap
  • Paper cone and vinegar
  • Vinegar and dish soap

Vinegar Fruit Fly Trap With a Plastic Wrap

What You Need

  • Empty jar
  • Rubber band
  • Vinegar
  • Plastic wrap

What You Do

  1. Pour some white or apple cider vinegar into a jar
  2. Cover the jar with a plastic wrap
  3. Use the rubber band to ensure the wrap is fastened
  4. Poke a few very small holes in it. Fruit flies will fight their way in but will have difficulties to get out once inside the jar
  5. If needed, make a few traps and place them around your kitchen

An alternative option is to use the original aluminum cover of the jar and simply poke some holes into it.

Paper Cone and Vinegar Fruit Fly Trap

What You Need

  • Empty jar
  • Few pieces of ripe fruit
  • Paper cone
  • Vinegar

What You Do

  1. Pour a little vinegar and a few pieces of ripe fruit in the jar.
  2. Roll some paper — it can be a bit thicker — into a cone and stick it into the jar. The narrow part should be facing downward.
  3. Fruit flies will make it into the jar and probably get stuck there.

Simple Vinegar and Dish Soap Fruit Fly Trap

To make sure the caught fruit flies stay trapped, use a small bowl and pour a mixture of vinegar and a few drops of dish soap in it. The added soap will cause the flies to get stuck when drawn to the vinegar.

Other Types of Fruit Fly DIY Traps

If you want to experiment some more, there are also other ways how to trap the fruit flies:

  • A wine bottle
  • Milk, sugar and pepper
  • Essential oils and herbs
  • A carnivorous plant

A Wine Bottle Trap

Simply leave the last drop of wine inside the bottle and add a few drops of dish soap to it. Flies are attracted to wine as they are to vinegar. They’ll fly into the bottle and won’t be able to leave. Without “food,” they’ll eventually die. Alternatively, you can dispose of the flies immediately.

Milk, Sugar and Pepper Trap

Fruit flies are attracted to any kind of fermentation. That’s why dairy products are easy to use for a DIY fruit fly trap. The mix of milk and sugar will ferment and attract the flies, while thick pepper granules will clog their spiracles, causing them to suffocate.

What You Need

  • Glass of milk
  • Cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of pepper

What You Do

  1. Warm a glass of milk and add a cup of sugar to it
  2. Just before boiling, add 2 tablespoons of pepper
  3. Let the mixture cool and pour it into one or a few bowls
  4. Place the bowls around your kitchen

This type of trap has been used for a long time but can be inconvenient during summer. The heat and the smell of fermented dairy products aren’t something you want in your kitchen — at least not for long. 

Essential Oils and Herbs

Research on essential oil has shown basil oil is an effective natural repellent for the fruit flies.

Simply pour a few drops of basil oil on one or more pieces of paper and tape them to your kitchen counter. To avoid using paper, you can also use small wooden balls and pour some oil onto them.

Besides basil oil, you can also try out other essential oils:

  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Thyme
  • Lemongrass

If you like herbs, buy or grow a basil or thyme plant and put it near your fruit bowl.

A Carnivorous Plant

It’s not likely this one is among your household basic items, but it may work well. A carnivorous plant catches fruit flies and other insects on its sticky leaves and eats them. Check at a flower or garden shop for available carnivorous plants in your area.

How to Trap Fruit Flies in a Drain?

Drains aren’t easily accessible, but trapping flies there is still pretty simple.

After you finish all your chores in the kitchen, tape a clean plastic bag over the drain opening. The adult flies will try to get out of the drain overnight and get caught in the bag.

Remove the bag carefully and get it out of the house immediately — along with the other used fruit fly traps.

What If Natural Ways Don’t Work?

All the above-described methods are considered natural ways to eliminate fruit flies from your home. Your best option is to take on all preventive measures as well as to make a simple DIY fruit fly trap when necessary.

If you can’t control the fruit fly infestation, consider getting an expert’s advice. They’ll be able to tell you which insecticides or other substances are available and how to use them at home.