Using Vinegar to Trap Fruit Flies

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

The fruit fly is a small insect that feeds on yeast and breeds in decaying or fermenting fruit. Also known by its scientific name of Drosophila, there are 1,500 different species of fruit flies. They are commonly thought of as a bother, but not a serious problem for an apiary. The fruit fly is a prolific breeder, though, and can swiftly grow into an out-of-control population if left unchecked. 

Luckily, the little bugs are so attracted to vinegar that they’re often referred to not as “fruit” flies, but as “vinegar” flies. If you’re wondering how to use this knowledge against them, you can use vinegar to trap fruit flies and keep their numbers down.

Vinegar can be used in the following fruit fly traps:

  • Paper funnel trap
  • Plastic bottle trap
  • In addition to other bait such as red wine or fruit in a trap

Why Are Fruit Flies an Issue?

Fruit flies are attracted to the reaction in fermentation. This chemical reaction results when yeast breaks down the sugars in fruit, turning them into carbon dioxide and alcohol. Since fruit flies breed in alcohol-rich environments and eat yeast microbes, this combination is particularly appealing to them. 

For beekeepers, fermentation may take place when:

  • Honey residue is left on your beekeeping equipment
  • Your honey has a higher-than-normal water content
  • If there is a disease or other pest problem in your hive 

Why Are Fruit Flies Attracted to Vinegar?

Fruit flies use their sense of smell to find a place to breed and eat. What they’re smelling for is primarily the chemical acetic acid. Acetic acid is present in overripe and fermenting fruit. Acetic acid is also one of the primary chemical components of vinegar. It makes sense, then, that fruit flies are attracted to the smell of vinegar because they’re mistaking it for a source of nutrition and survival.

Using Vinegar to Trap Fruit Flies 

There are a variety of methods and strategies to trap and kill fruit flies. Vinegar offers a cost-effective, efficient, do-it-yourself option that can rid you of your influx.

Preventing Swarms

Before creating your own vinegar fruit fly trap, get rid of anything that the flies might breed on. This includes sticky surfaces, drains, ledges, towels, mops, food scraps, sugary drinks, and, possibly, the frames in your hive. 

Make sure to be thorough, or else you will solely kill the adults, only to find more fruit flies transitioning from larvae to adults. 

Make Your Own Vinegar Trap 

To make your DIY vinegar trap, you first need to gather your materials. You’ll obviously need your bait, which can be apple cider vinegar, rice vinegar, or white vinegar. Include a little bit of dishwashing liquid to add to the vinegar, as this helps break the surface tension of the liquid and drown the arthropods. 

You’ll also need to gather a receptacle to hold the liquid. This can be as simple as an open bowl, but we recommend a container like a glass jar or a plastic bottle. 

Paper Funnel Vinegar Trap

The point of this trap is to help the fruit flies get as close as possible to the vinegar so that they end up trying to stand on it and drown. You can help them get to the bottom of a jar by creating a paper funnel that points them from the mouth of the jar to the vinegar at the bottom. The funnel allows for easy entry towards the vinegar but closes off a lot of the area for escaping the trap. 


Plastic Bottle Vinegar Trap

A similar method can be employed with a plastic bottle by cutting the top of it and inverting the cap into the bottom of the bottle. This cut section of the top portion of a bottle acts similarly to the paper funnel. Try to be economical and environmentally-friendly by using what’s at hand. 


You will have to empty the trap periodically and check it to make sure that the vinegar hasn’t evaporated, especially if it’s in the sun. 

Use Vinegar in Other Traps 

There are other methods for making homemade traps, using different bait, like yeast, banana, or red wine. Some of these baits may have a potential effect on your bees if you place the traps near your hives. In these traps, vinegar can play a supporting, yet vital, role. Add some vinegar to any of these baits that you choose and this scent will help deter your bees from getting caught in the trap themselves. 

Using Fruit Flies Attraction to Vinegar 

For a beekeeper, fruit flies can seem like just a pesky annoyance, but they can bloom into a more serious issue. With honey leaving a sticky mess wherever it’s handled, battling an infestation of fruit flies can be a constant battle.

Luckily, vinegar is a potent attractant for the insects. By keeping this affordable household item always on hand and refilling your homemade vinegar traps, you can be sure to keep your exposure to fruit flies to a minimum.