Designing Spaces That Reflect You
How to Kill Fruit Flies in Plants by Proven Methods

How to Kill Fruit Flies in Plants by Proven Methods: A Complete Guide

Fruit flies (also known as vinegar flies) are a nuisance. Their presence in interior spaces does not cause harm to indoor houseplants but makes the home unsanitary. These pesky flies are attracted to dried leaves near houseplants, overripe fruits, and fermented vegetables inside your kitchen.

How to Kill Fruit Flies in Plants by Proven Methods
Fruit flies (look like fungus gnats) are tiny pests easily eliminated with white vinegar and red wine traps. Credit: Flicker

Fruit flies rely on these rotten fruits for food and breeding sites. They lay eggs on fruit and vegetable matter and can lay up to 700 eggs in four weeks. Eggs hatch into creamy white larvae in warm summer or damp environments, completing the entire lifecycle in one week.

Within days, these flies occupy the interior places and become a health hazard because they can spread disease-causing bacteria. Therefore, various methods should be incorporated to kill fruit flies in homes and plants (they mostly deposit their eggs in the potting soil of potted plants due to overly wet conditions). Fortunately, these pests are easy to control without the spraying of chemicals. Many home DIYs, such as apple cider vinegar and red wine traps, can eliminate these pesky bugs within days.

Continue reading to learn how to kill fruit flies in plants naturally.

Note: Fruit flies do not eat or infect fruits and vegetables. Instead, they eat the fungus and mold that grows on rotten fruits. The only and best way to get rid of fruit flies in homes is not to let the fruit and vegetables rot.

How to Kill Fruit Flies in Plants

There are many ways to kill fruit flies in plants with great ease. Such as keeping the immediate space of your indoor and outdoor plants neat and clean. Also, clean the leaf surfaces with a wet cloth to remove dirt particles that may be a source of attraction for these flies. Secondly, set traps with their favorite food to capture and kill flies. Thirdly, grow and maintain plants that repel fruit flies, for example, peppermint and lemon grass. Even the essential oils from these plants can deter fruit flies in hours.

Here’s a complete list of methods to kill fruit flies in plants :

Remove the Food Source

Fruit flies are attracted to rotten fruits and vegetables because they feed on fungi and mold on sources, and lay eggs. So by removing these food sources, the frequent visits of fruit flies to indoor spaces can be managed. Also, keep the ripened fruits and vegetables in the fridge to discourage vinegar fly infestations.

Maintain Proper Sanitary Conditions

Another best approach to avoid fruit fly infestations around your houseplants is to keep their surroundings clean. Remove the fallen and dried leaves from your indoor gardens and discard them properly. Otherwise, they will serve as breeding sites for flies. 

Be sure to throw out the decaying and rotten fruits and vegetables. Clean the countertops with a bleach solution to repel flies.

Note: For outdoor compost bins, cover them with plastic sheets because the garbage and kitchen waste is a haven for them to breed and eat.

Take out the Trash Regularly

A clean house means a pest-free home. So throwing out the kitchen waste will keep the fruit flies away and will not disrupt your potted plants.

Use Sticky Traps

Sticky Traps
Brightly colored cards with sticky material capture the flies and keep the interior neat and clean.

Place yellow sticky cards near your indoor houseplant garden; this way, fruit flies will attract bright color cards and land on the glue, never to escape and eventually die.

Use Apple Cider Vinegar Traps to Capture Fruit Fly

Apple Cider Vinegar Traps to Capture Fruit Fly
Apple cider vinegar traps help control fruit flies in plants and around the kitchen.

Apple cider vinegar help in the control of fruit flies by interfering in their life cycle. Adult fruit flies are attracted to the strong smell of apple cider vinegar and can be lured in through traps. To make a vinegar trap, add four tablespoons of vinegar to a glass jar, cover it with perforated plastic wrap, and secure it with a rubber band. Now place this DIY trap near your plants; the fruit flies will enter the jar but cannot leave it.

Dishwashing liquid also effectively kills the fruit flies
Dishwashing liquid also effectively kills the fruit flies

Another best fruit fly trap is dishwashing liquid. Mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of liquid dishwashing soap with one cup of lukewarm water and pour the solution into a spray bottle.Apply it on leaf surfaces daily to wash off or repel the fruit flies landing on your plants. Keep applying the solution until the fruit fly problem is gone.

Lure the fruit flies in traps through their favorite food
Lure the fruit flies in traps through their favorite food, such as rotten fruits and vegetables.

Fruit flies can be trapped in glass jars with their favorite food. For this, place the diseased tomato in a jar with two tablespoons of red wine, cover it with a paper wrap, and secure it with a rubber band. Poka a hole in the center of the paper and situate the jar near houseplants.Fruit flies will attract to the rotted tomato, and to eat the food, they will enter through the hole and be unable to leave. One of the best advantages of using these DIY traps is that they are cost-effective and provide adequate control of fruit flies without harsh chemicals.

Use Fruit Fly Eater Plants (Carnivorous Plants)

Fruit Fly Eater Plants
Carnivorous plants that trap fruit flies and other bugs to fulfill their nutrient needs

In addition to apple cider vinegar and rotten food traps, some plants can trap and eliminate fruit flies, known as carnivorous plants. There are almost 600 species of carnivorous plants; growing them near your garden and houseplants can kill harmful bugs. Pitcher plants and venus fly traps are the two popular carnivorous plants controlling flies and other harmful bugs.

Venus fly trap plant in action, feeding and killing their prey
Venus fly trap plant in action, feeding and killing their prey

Situate these plants near houseplants to trap and kill flies for effective management.

Use Plants that Repel Fruit Flies

Plants that Repel Fruit Flies
Plants that contain essential oils, such as lemongrass, can prevent fruit fly infestations inside your home and around houseplants.

Herbs such as basil, lemongrass, peppermint, and lavender are popular plants that can effectively repel fruit flies and other harmful bugs (fungus gnats). The fragrance of the leaves due to essential oils act as repellent agents for the flies. Position the containers of these plants near your houseplants to repel bugs (their dried leaves can also be spread at the plant base).

Note: Essential oils from these herbs, when mixed with water and dishwashing soap also effective in deterring fruit flies and bugs.

Cover the Topsoil of the Houseplant with Gravel

Fruit flies are attracted to the houseplants when their potting medium is too wet because they use as breeding sources. So covering the top layer of potting medium with gravel, pebble, or sand can interfere with the fruit fly life cycle. Also, the larvae that hatch from already-laid eggs in the soil will not be able to come to the soil surface.

Topsoil of the Houseplant with Gravel
Covering the topsoil with medium to large size gravels prevents fruit fly infestations

Use Neem Oil to kill Fruit Flies

If the home remedies are not working successfully in managing the intensive populations of fruit flies, then use plant-based insecticides. Such as, neem oil spray every two days will help in fruit fly management. To prepare the neem oil solution, mix one teaspoon of neem oil per one litter of water and dishwashing soap. Homogenize the mixture thoroughly and pour it into a spray bottle. Apply this solution twice a week to achieve effective fruit fly control.

FAQs on How to Kill Fruit Flies in Plants

What’s the difference between Fruit flies and Gnats?

Although fruit flies and gnats appear similar because they keep flying around houseplants and lay eggs in a damp potting medium, both these flies differ in their physical characteristics. Fungus gnats appear gray or dark-winged, while fruit flies are brown and tan to reddish-orange. Also, fungus gnats live in too-wet potting soil rich in organic material. On the other hand, fruit flies thrive on high fructose content and overripe fruits and vegetables. Interestingly both fungus gnats and fruit flies are noisy and lay eggs in wet potting soil medium.

How do you Kill Fruit Flies in Soil ?

To kill fruit flies in the potting soil mix, drench the soil with diluted apple cider vinegar or neem oil solution. These applications will kill all phases of the fruit fly life cycle (from eggs to adult). 

How do I Get Rid of Little Black Flies in my Potted Plants?

These little black flies are fungus gnats that infest your potted plants when indoor and outdoor gardens are not sanitary practices. Also, too moist and organically rich soil favors the fungus gnat infestations. To get rid of these black flies, apply diluted hydrogen peroxide, neem oil, and insecticidal soap spray once a week. Use beneficial insects such as green lacewing, lady beetles, and shore flies that will feast on black flies and their larvae.

What Kills Fruit Flies Fast?

Neem oil insecticides and plant-based essential oils kill fruit flies within 7-8 hours of application, ensuring a pest-free home.

Why do my Plants have Fruit Flies?

Unsanitary conditions in your indoor and outdoor garden are the main culprit of fruit fly infestations. It includes the need for regular pruning and trimming practices. Also, not wiping down the dust from leaf surfaces and removing the pruned and fallen leaves every other day.So to prevent fruit fly infestations, keep the indoor and outdoor environments clean. Disinfect the countertops with the hydrogen peroxide solution to discourage the entry of fruit flies.

Does Cinnamon Get Rid of Gnats?

Cinnamon is a natural fungicide that helps plant growers get rid of gnats and fruit flies when sprayed on plants in diluted form. It will repel the flies and prevent the potting soil as a breeding source.

Another way to use cinnamon as a fungicide is by mixing it with potting soil when planting. It will inhibit fungal spore germination and fruit fly egg hatching. Thus, controlling the populations of fruit flies by interfering with their life cycle.