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Ann is an avid gardener, cook and garden writer, and a Vermont Certified Horticulturist. She tends to her old farmhouse and organic homestead where she raises blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and elderberries, as well as fruit and nut trees. Ann grows vegetables and herbs in raised beds and containers that are tucked into a lush landscape of perennial gardens in the scenic Winooski River Valley. A trained horticulturist and ecological landscape designer, she is the author of four gardening books, including Organic Gardening for Dummies, and is a longtime contributor to many magazines, websites and other publications.
These soapstone covers conceal plastic fruit fly traps.
Fruit flies win the "Most Annoying Pest" contest hands down. They live in the kitchen, crawling around and breeding on food, and then fly into hard-to-swat, in-your-face swarms when disturbed. If that behavior isn't a category winner, I don't want to see the competition!
Fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) invasions usually coincide with the ripening of summer fruit. Nothing draws a crowd of fruit flies like a bowl of peaches or tomatoes. So where exactly did they come from? Although it's tempting to think of these pests as alien invaders that hitchhiked from a distant land, it turns out they're natives. They usually live outdoors, though, and only come inside when they detect a potential breeding ground.
Fruit fly adults only live for a few days, so their need to breed is intense. Females lay up to 500 eggs on any fermenting food source, and that includes everything from ripe bananas to garbage disposal slime. Yuck! The presence of fruit flies is often the first tip that you've got a forgotten potato in the cupboard or that your toddler spilled apple juice under the table.
Despite the annoyance factor, fruit flies perform an important public service. Their larvae consume decaying matter that might otherwise turn into a source of fungal or bacterial infection or attract even more obnoxious pests, such as mice or rats. Females lay their eggs just under the surface of decaying fruit and other foods. After hatching, the grubs spend three or four days eating before they mature into breeding adults, and the cycle begins again. Their whole life cycle occurs in about eight days.
Getting fruit flies out of the kitchen takes a bit of persistence, but it isn't difficult and doesn't require any pesticides.
Last updated: 2/23/19
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