Shoo fly! Finding solutions to pesky fruit flies

Fruit flies breed in places like compost piles. They can turn over a whole generation in about a week outdoors if it's warm enough.

Itâ??s the time of the season when fruit flies become more noticeable.

Many people are wondering if they are worse this season because Northern Michigan did not have a large fruit crop last year. A local bug expert said the problem doesnâ??t typically start around the fruit.

â??When the fruit fly issue arises, it often arises 20, 30, 40 miles away from significant orchards,â?? said Duke Elsner, an MSU Extension small fruit educator. â??We finally start noticing, but they really are around the whole year.â??

Drosophila Melanogaster, or fruit flies, live outdoors mainly. When they find their way into your house, they become a nuisance.

â??They can get into anybody's home, no matter how well weather-stripped and screened it is,â?? explained Elsner.

Leaving a couple dishes in the sink, or throwing some scraps in the trash creates the perfect breeding ground for a flock of flies.

â??This year we've had some big rains recently. In fact, this one last night will probably provide them a wonderful resource of things outdoors, so we may see them for quite a while,â?? said Elsner.

â??The absolute best thing would be a couple hard frosts, but we don't want those now, not yet anyways,â?? said Elsner.

There are several methods for getting rid of the pests.

â??We have a little trap out right now that has the usual formula: some red wine vinegar and a drop of soap to break the surface tension,â?? explained Elsner. â??It traps a few hundred a day, but when they're very numerous, that's not enough. It will help, but it won't eliminate the problem.â??

Some people use fly tape, or even a vacuum to suck the fruit flies out of air.

If you have a compost bin, keep it covered. Elsner uses a fan to help disperse the odors so the flies can't locate it, which also keeps the flies from settling there as much.

Many people find fruit flies in their bathrooms. They're attracted to things like soaps and perfumes. So keeping those smells contained can help.

There are always industrial solutions as well. Elsner said pesticides and bug bombs work well, but you have to decide whether you want the chemicals near food surfaces.

Elsner said the invasive spotted-wing fruit fly has nothing to do with the fruit flies in your home. The Asian variety attacks fresh, whole fruits, typically at orchards or vineyards.