I was faced with a familiar problem in my kitchen yesterday: every time I touched my counter-top pile of ripening produce, a swarm of fruit flies rose from the mountain like a flock of startled birds. Since we were expecting friends for dinner, and swarming fruit flies wouldn’t add much to my tablescape (ahem), fast-action was in order.
I don’t remember where I first saw this ingenious, inexpensive, and chemical-free method of ridding your kitchen of the tiny beasts. The first time I put it in action, it didn’t really work — you have to take efforts to get the parts and pieces just so. But when you do, it’s amazing how well it de-bugs your workspace.
It’s not the prettiest contraption, sitting on your counter, but I usually put mine out at night, and let it work while I doze. Or, in the case of yesterday, I put it out at about noon, and by 3pm there was nary an airborn fly to be counted.
Your kitchen will be fly-free until you bring in another load of fruit that has them hidden within. Then they’ll multiply, and you have to set the trap again. I’ve done it about half a dozen times (once, back-to-back, for an especially rowdy crowd) over the course of the summer.
- Take a jar (I use a quart-sized canning jar) and put a little cider vinegar in the bottom — about a 1/2 inch will do. Then add a piece of banana (at least a couple inches long, to attract the flies).
- Make a funnel with a recycled sheet of paper (say, the list of wanted addresses for your upcoming 20-year high school reunion… I figure if the reunion committee can’t find someone, chances are that person does not want to be found). The object is to make a pretty small opening at one end, and allow the opening to very closely hover above the banana. Tape up your funnel to hold its shape.
- Place the funnel in the jar, and tape the top edges of the jar to the funnel, creating a seal all around.
- Set it near your fruit, or wherever your flies are hovering.
The flies will eventually meander toward that scent of ripe banana and vinegar, and being intoxicated with the promise of sugars, will fly into the funnel. Once there, they get their fill — but can never find their way out of the jar.
After a few hours, your jar will be full of confused fruit flies. It’s kinda sad, actually.
But not so sad that you have trouble sticking the whole contraption, as-is, in your freezer. The flies, vinegar, everything will freeze. You then let it thaw out, dump the bug graveyard, and wash/reuse the jar.