If you are not a geneticist but a cook, you will find little consolation when black clouds are rising from the kitchen table – but you really do not have to be afraid of the little animals. The food from which the cloud rose can also be eaten, just don’t wait too long and of course you should wash the fruit thoroughly. Find out in this article how you can combat fruit flies or prevent an infestation directly.

This will attract the fruit flies

And this is how they get there: Flies have very finely developed antennae on their heads, extremely powerful sensory tools with which they are very good at smelling. Smelling very, very well: While “normal vertebrates” (including humans) recognize smells by an olfactory receptor protein identifying odorant molecules in the olfactory cells of the nose, fruit flies can rely on two receptor proteins. And in an incredibly tricky way: The second receptor protein does not recognize a specific scent, but simply supports the specific receptor protein. With the result that the fruit fly can perceive scent molecules a thousand times better.

So a fruit fly smells potential food sources in your kitchen about 1000 times better than you. You can quickly find something that whets your appetite and encourages the flies to fly in. Or you import your fruit flies yourself, with your fruit. Once it has located the food source, the fruit fly has it easy. As a fly, it belongs to the group of dipterans that can simply press their proboscis against the food and thus absorb organic substances, while the second group of mosquitoes first bite and then suck.

Fruit fly infestation in the kitchen

What the fruit fly finds in your kitchen not only serves as food for itself. Fruit flies are also more than careful to provide a good living environment for the next generation. In this way, “mother fruit fly” immediately identifies the ripe fruit and vegetables in your kitchen as a wonderfully suitable breeding ground. Every damaged area and every slightly loosened stalk can be used to lay eggs. Residual waste with organic coverings and above all organic waste also offer many magnificent breeding grounds.

And then a very effective reproduction takes its course: A single female has laid around 500 eggs in an organic residue in your kitchen, which now brings the larvae to maturity in about 10 to 14 days. After a maximum of two weeks, hundreds of fruit flies are already swarming out. These 500 now want to reproduce again, since they don’t live very long, if possible without going on long journeys, if breeding sites are found right away in your kitchen, they will be gladly accepted. If everything goes perfectly for the fruit fly in your kitchen, five-digit numbers could hatch next time.

Prevent fruit fly infestation

From what has just been explained, it is clear what you can do to prevent the visible “black clouds”:

  • Do not leave ripe fruits or vegetables lying around in the kitchen.
  • Especially not those fruits that are called “climacteric”, i.e. that can continue to ripen after harvest.
  • You can read about which fruits these are in detail on the Internet, with climacteric fruits producing the “ripening gas” ethene to varying degrees.
  • A particularly large amount of ethene is produced e.g. B. apples, apricots, bananas, peaches, plums and tomatoes.
  • These fruits are also usually the quickest to react to the ethene emitted by neighbors, so they shouldn’t be stored side by side.
  • Juices or other appetizing liquids should never be left lying around.
  • If you spill a liquid, wipe it up immediately!
  • Another part of prevention is to bring the rubbish to the bin really often, especially in summer.
  • In addition, thorough ventilation can help disperse the fermenting gases and fragrant attractants outside of the kitchen.
  • Particular caution is called for if you can preserve fruit yourself or produce liqueurs or similar.
  • Then, before working on the fruit, you should secure the room with close-meshed mosquito nets.
  • Any leftovers should be discarded outside immediately, and finished products should be carefully inspected for leakproof closure.

However, the above also means that you are unlikely to be able to immediately eliminate every source of attraction for fruit flies throughout the summer. When you imagine that a single potato or apple peel that has slipped under the cupboard can become the breeding ground for generations of vinegar flies. It is therefore not unlikely that even a person who works in an exemplary hygienic manner will have to deal with the fight against fruit flies.

fight fruit flies

The above research into the smelling ability of fruit flies could in the near future lead to the development of effective sprays against fruit flies, which e.g. B. turn off the non-specific receptor protein. Then the fruit flies couldn’t smell any better than we do and can’t find their way into your kitchen, only the next flower. Unfortunately, since this will take a little longer, you have to resort to the conventionally recommended means:

Various liquids have proven to be helpful in the fight against vinegar flies:

  • The classic: a glass with a mixture of vinegar and water and a drop of dish soap
    • Vinegar attracts the vinegar flies, the dish soap reduces the surface tension of the water
    • when the flies come into contact with the water, they drown
  • Similar decoy services: denture cleaner or braces cleaner
    • dissolve one tablet in a glass of water
  • The vinegar flies should also “fly” on lemon juice
  • the little animals known as fermenting flies are said to also like whisky, red wine and sweet liqueurs
    • a small jar with a perforated lid (foil) will do
  • Adhesive flytrap, there are also unobtrusive tapes for wall mounting
    • possibly attach a piece of fruit to it

Fragrances as a deterrent:

  • hang dried holy herb (santolina) in the kitchen
  • fresh onions
  • halved lemon, “spiked” with cloves
  • Drill chestnuts
  • Butterwort: easy-care and decorative flowering but carnivorous plant that finds fruit flies delicious

In addition to these “recipes”, which are each prepared separately or associated with purchases, there are many quick everyday reactions that can be derived from the tips: The empty cucumber jar gets a few holes in the lid and with the remaining cucumber water becomes a quick fruit fly trap. Cover the unwashed peach can with perforated kitchen foil. If you are greeted after the holiday by a well-developed squadron of fruit flies, you can also simply reach for the vacuum cleaner.

“Disguised” fruit flies?

If you discover small flying animals on the soil of your indoor plants, they could be fruit flies. It also likes to ferment in the potting soil. For example, if you water a little too often, dampening plant debris on the soil.

But it could also be the whitefly called whiteflies, which can be confused with fruit flies. Whiteflies definitely populate one or the other basil or kale. Against these little creatures you need sharper weapons than those listed above. They are eliminated with sprays or biological pest control.

Maybe they are fungus gnats, they look even more like fruit flies. Fungus gnats also lay their eggs in moist, non-rotting potting soil. Against a fungus gnat culture on moist potting soil, matches should be put upside down in the soil and spread sulfur components there. This is to kill the larvae and deter adult fungus gnats. Fungus gnats can also be combated with the commercially available yellow stickers. They are attracted to them and stick to them.

A layer of fine bird sand, which is sprinkled on the potting soil, is supposed to prevent any type of fly from laying its eggs on the soil.

Conclusion
Fruit flies are annoying, but really harmless. If you make sure that you really don’t have any leftover fruit and vegetables lying around for a while, the problem will usually be solved very quickly. If not, you haven’t been consistent enough, which is almost inevitably the case with your first experience with fruit flies. At first, nobody really realizes how little rotten organic material is enough to provide a lush nursery for a generation of fruit flies. Prevention is usually easier than fighting the fruit flies afterwards.

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