Dear Angie: What are the best ways to get rid of fruit flies? We were visiting my folks this weekend, and their kitchen has a swarm of fruit flies. My parents have a garden, and I'm sure the fruit and vegetables are the cause. I'd just need to recommend them some good solutions short of fumigating the place. — Hugh V., Indianapolis
Dear Hugh: Fruit flies certainly can be pesky. Because of the dry, hot summer followed by heavy rains in much of the country, there's been an explosion of them this fall.
There are lots of reasons fruit flies hang around. As the name suggests, they are attracted to fruit and vegetables. They also love grimy drains and garbage disposals, dirty dishes, garbage and recycling bins.
What's most important is to detect the source of the problem. It could be that the garden is attracting more fruit flies; however, they are finding their way indoors. Check for torn screens or other points of entry, and be sure to keep those sealed.
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Keep kitchen sinks, drains and disposals clean and free of food at all times. Make sure garbage and recycling bins are covered with lids. Also, keep fruits and vegetables refrigerated, or in sealed containers or plastic bags until you get the problem under control.
There are over-the-counter aerosols and sprays that will kill the flies, but pesticides are not always necessary. If you plan to spray in the kitchen, make sure that what you use is safe for a food-handling environment. Many pest-control companies sell sticky traps and light traps, but most highly rated specialists agree that homeowners can make a simple trap themselves.
One safe-to-use home remedy is a trap made of apple cider or vinegar. Place the cider or vinegar in a jar or bowl, add a few drops of dish soap, and cover the container with a plastic wrap. Poke several small holes in the wrap. The cider or vinegar will attract the flies. They'll enter the container through the holes and will fall into the liquid. They won't fly out.
Here's the good news: Fruit flies aren't very resilient. The first freeze should put an end to their reign of annoyance.