A bunch of beautiful bananas are a sweet treat on the counter — not just for you, but for flying pests. The little fruit flies that flit around fresh fruit are annoying, and they're germ carriers. They can lay up to 2,000 eggs in overly ripe bananas and reproduce within eight days, which can create quite a swarm.
The good news is that there are several ways to prevent the critters from congregating in your kitchen by way of the bananas.
Clear the Area of Attractants
It's not just bananas that fruit flies target. Fruit flies can receive the sweet scent of other types of fruits as well — and sugary drinks — through their antennae. Other attractive scents include alcohol and wet sponges or cleaning supplies like rags or mops.
Remove all open containers and whisk away dirty dishes into a tub of soapy water or the dishwasher. Place wet scrubbers in a sponge holder so they can dry out. Put wet rags away or directly into the laundry. Throw relatively clean wet rags in the microwave for a few seconds to dry them out before returning them to the sink or counter for later use.
Stop Fruit Flies Early
Deep clean counters to remove any sticky substances left behind from previous ripened fruit or sugary spills. Use a garbage disposal cleaner, and scrub out the trash can.
While fruit may look pretty on your countertop, it's an inviting buffet for fruit flies. Keep your fruit under a clear cake stand cover or domed stand or slip a fruit screen over the bunch of bananas to keep fruit flies at bay.
Wash bananas when they first enter your home to whisk away any fruit-fly eggs from the store. Once the skin turns brown and the bananas are ripened, they may be stored in the refrigerator where fruit flies can't survive. The banana skin will blacken, but the fruit will maintain its ripe flavor for a few more days.
Natural Repellents for Fruit Flies
If the problem is serious, a spray bottle filled with 91 percent isopropyl rubbing alcohol will knock out the flies. Simply spray the area where they're flitting and they'll die on contact. It's safe to use on countertops and other surfaces, but it will spoil fruit if it lands on it, so clear the area first.
Since they're attracted to ripe fruit, place a few slices of banana in a small jar, cover with plastic wrap and secure with a rubber band. Gently poke holes into the top of the plastic cover with a toothpick to create openings just big enough for easy entry but not so big that exit is easy. The flies will find the bananas irresistible and crawl into the holes.
Apple Cider Vinegar Trap
A simple fruit-fly trap made with apple cider vinegar will lure them to an early demise. Fill a small glass with enough apple cider vinegar to create a pool about an inch deep. Pull plastic wrap tightly over the top and secure with a rubber band. Then poke holes into the cover with a toothpick.
An alternative trap can be made by adding a few drops of dish soap to an uncovered bowl of apple cider vinegar. The soap will pull the fruit flies into the muck where they'll drown. Set the trap on the counter and check it in a couple of days for refilling.
- Orkin: Fruit Flies & Food
- Napa Valley Register: Wash Your Bananas (and Other Lessons in Cleaning Produce)
- Martha Stewart: Six Easy Ways to Get Rid of Fruit Flies, According to a Sustainable Exterminator
- Bob Vila: How To: Get Rid of Fruit Flies
- Martha Stewart: Which Fruits and Vegetables Can You Leave Out on the Counter?
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.