I’m big on gardening. That’s not to say I’m good at it – I kill most everything – but this summer was lucky and we got tomatoes out the wazoo. The only downside of fresh tomatoes: fruit flies. They love fresh fruit and multiply quickly, so by the end of the summer, the kitchen looked like that scene with the third plague from that Charlton Heston movie.
One thing that definitely does not work – and I’ve seen it listed on web sites over and over – is apple cider vinegar. They won’t touch the stuff. Another common suggestion for getting rid of fruit flies is to stick a piece of fruit (like, say, a tomato) in a plastic baggie. Then, when they fly into the baggie, close it on them, and smush them one by one. This is not only easy, but satisfying. It takes a long time, however, to get them all. You also have to check the bag regularly because they lay their eggs in the fruit, so if you leave it for too long, you’ll just get more flies.
I used to use this method until I made a discovery. Like most great discoveries, it happened by accident. At the risk of revealing too much information about myself, I was drinking red wine alone one night in college. I ended up leaving a glass of wine sitting out all night long, and when I woke up the next morning (early afternoon?), I saw that a bunch of fruit flies had drowned themselves in the wine. Light bulb! I started putting a little big of red wine in a plastic baggie instead of fruit. The flies love it, there’s nowhere for them to lay eggs, and some of them even drown in the wine, which makes my job easier.
Cut to present day. Fruit flies have apparently gotten wily, because not many of them were going for my wine-in-a-baggie trick. We were starting to get desperate, until – another grand discovery! After leaving an empty bottle of cheap whiskey on the counter overnight (I’m sensing a pattern), we awoke the next morning to discover what must have been over two dozen fruit flies dead at the bottom of the bottle. Deduction: the flies flew in, got drunk on cheap whiskey, then couldn’t figure out how to get back out and drowned.
Conclusion: fruit flies are alcoholics.
If you have a fruit fly problem, my advice is to befriend someone who drinks cheap whiskey and steal their empty bottles. Or you can try my red wine in a baggie trick. Like most alcoholics, however, they probably build up a tolerance. So start with the red wine and go to the whiskey once they need something stronger to get their fix. I don’t know what I’m going to do when they’re sick of whiskey. Leave a spoon of heroin on the counter, I guess.