Tuesday night is garbage night round these parts. And Wednesday night and Thursday night and Friday night and Saturday night and Sunday night and Monday night and every night.

At least it feels that way.  Stupid garbage.  I have a regular garbage bin, a compost pile, a compost bin, a recycling box for metals and a recycling box for papers.

Whatever happened to the olden days when we used to just throw our garbage out the car window and it would magically disappear because we couldn’t see it anymore?




Last Tuesday when I pulled out the garbage filled with compostables from under my sink a planet of fruit flies rose up out of it and dispersed with military precision around my kitchen.  They were on the counter, the cupboards, and yes, in my pretty, pretty hair.

I decided the best line of defence would be to dance around the kitchen flinging a tea towel at everything that moved but that didn’t work because the fruit flies were like fighter jets and my tea towel was like a  sloth on Prozac.

I immediately set out a bowl with vinegar in it and stretched plastic wrap over the top.  Punched a few holes in it with a fork and I was done.  That’s the solution to fruit flies for a lot of people.

All of the stress from the fruit fly infestation required I have a stiff drink of milk.  In the time it took to pour the milk and walk to the other end of the kitchen there was a fruit fly in it. I figured they must love milk so I set my glass of milk on the counter beside my regular fruit fly trap.  Then I remembered that whenever I have fruit flies in the summer they always get into my vinegar bottle so I set that on the counter too.  THEN I remembered about my DIY bottle fly trap from last year and made a miniature version of it with vinegar as a bait in the bottom instead of rotting shrimp.

And that is how the GREAT FRUIT FLY TRAP EXPERIMENT began.

I left the traps out for 3 days, which is how long it took to eliminate the fruit flies.

I then emptied the contents of each trap into a fine seive, catching all the dead fruit flies, dried them on a piece of paper and started counting.

And here are the shocking results.




The milk probably would have caught a lot more fruit flies if it hadn’t turned to yogourt overnight creating a solid surface that the flies could just walk on.  It was not an easy nor a fun job to sift out the fruit flies from coagulated milk.



Second to last.  My go-to method for fruit flies came in second to last.


My old fashioned vinegar bottle caught the second most fruit flies.  Time to put a little layer of plastic wrap under the spout of my vinegar bottle.




Seriously using a paper cone and mason jar worked THAT much better than all other fruit fly trap methods.

Seriously I sifted, dried and counted them.

Seriously had you told 16 year old Karen that she would make a pretty good living one day from drying and counting fruit flies she would have responded with a resounding “Yeah that sounds about right”.

If you aren’t sure how to do it  here’s my full tutorial on how to make one of these traps.

Any kind of vinegar makes a good bait and as anyone who drinks knows … so does wine. But I found they seemed to be MOST attracted to Raspberry Red Wine Vinegar. It has all the components they love. Wine, Vinegar, and the sweetness of fruit. Plus it’s great in a salad dressing.

I’ll be emptying my compostable garbage a little more often for the rest of the summer.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s garbage night.  Again.


  1. Maria says:

    Where the hell do they come from? I DO NOT HAVE FRUIT in the house, yet, I must have trapped over a thousand in the past 3 weeks. I’ve tried wine (works great) but I don’t want to pay to get those little bugger dead drunk! Plus it gets expensive. I’ve found a cheap method: white vinegar with some brown sugar mixed in. Works great. Only $2 total at the dollar store. Ok, can anyone answer how I got fruit flies when I don’t have fruit in the house? :(

  2. whitequeen96 says:

    Good Lord, woman, have you no SHAME?! To glory in the death of so many small creatures, completely ignoring the fact that they have feelings too, each with his/her own hopes and dreams! Don’t you have any conscience at all? I’m going to report you to PETA immediately!

  3. Amber says:

    A plastic bottle with a few holes in the lid (the cone is a better idea) with vinegar and a piece of banana in it cleaned up an infestation I had really quickly.

  4. Heather (mtl) says:

    … and guess who happens to have raspberry wine vinegar?! No idea why let alone when I even bought it, but I ‘coned it’ . Hard to see if I’ll catch anything as the liquid is so dark. My bedroom is cooler so I keep my ripe tomatoes in there but the kitchen is like the devil’s armpit, so I placed another coned jar with white wine vinegar in there, just in case. I heard bananas were the worst to attract these bugs so I carefully wash them as soon as I bring them home. The bananas I wash, not the bugs.
    ManOMan but that was some piddly counting. You must have needed a loup and long tweezers!

  5. Karin Sorensen says:

    your timing is implacable, ma’am. as i’m reading your article, i’m constantly waiving my arms around me, shooing fruit flys away. lil buggers!!!

    i set up your contraption right away and cannot wait to count their dead bodies in the morrow.

    thanks again.


  6. Jody says:

    My experiment has begun. However I seem to be challenged making a cone with a wide top and narrow bottom. And I always thought of myself as crafty.

  7. Heather Sykora says:

    Just two weeks ago I was swatting at fruit flies and the thought flitted across my mind- I should read up on the most efficient way to get rid of them……. Thanks for reading my mind!!

  8. Hilda Munk says:

    Yay! Thanks So much! Any magic potion to use on regular yucky-why-do-you-even-exist flies? ( we have ducks, so we have flies…lots of flies)

  9. Jessica says:

    I was just about to look for ideas when this popped up in my news feed! A friend of ours suggested leaving out a fuzzy navel wine cooler. Might try both in jars with funnels, though I don’t get paid to count them, ha! Thanks for the info and humor!

  10. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Yup!..I believe you cause that’s the method I use..Hey!..that means..for once I could have taught you something…wow…I’m proud of me..and my pretty pretty

  11. Carole Caissie says:

    We keep our small compost bin in the bottom of the freezer with a liner bag. On garbage day, we just grab the bag and put it out in the bigger green bin for the curb. I haven’t had fruit flies in the house since…

    It started off as a summer thing to keep the smell and bugs at bay but now we do it all year round. It also seems to have helped with the raccoons who used to always get into the bins overnight.

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      That’s what I do with the packaging from raw meat (the styrofoam trays and plastic wrap etc). It all goes in a bag in the freezer until garbage collection day. It has made a huge difference to the formerly stinky cans in the garage, especially when temps hit 30C and up!

  12. Gretchen Sexton says:

    Who knew? You Knew!
    Thank you!

  13. Laura Bee says:

    I believed you when I saw the photos. That you counted them – shows you really care. You follow through with an idea & have a great work ethic.
    Seriously, I appreciate this. They showed up again a few days ago & I was about to do the saran wrap set up.

  14. Laura Bentley says:

    I have made these traps for years and thought they were the best…then one day, my son came home from McDonald’s and had left an apple juice glass (clear plastic glass with a clear plastic lid with the cuts in it for the straw) and it had caught way more fruit flies than my trap. So no I just use that, works like a charm!

  15. Carswell says:

    That was one SERIOUS infestation of fruit flies. I can’t stand it when there’s anything upwards of half a dozen.

  16. Mary W says:

    I would like to try a pair of tiny earrings made like this for my daily “walk the dog tribulation”. Some sort of buzzing gnat comes streaking out of the woods and straight into my ears. I can hear them coming and try to cover my ears but some beat me to it. No one else seems to have this problem. I know they aren’t gnats since they buzz and are a bit larger and heavier. I do bathe every single day! I have clean ears but apparently my brains have some odor that drives them wild. I have learned to put citronella into olive oil and smear it around my ears every time I go out. It works. My ears are soft and it smells good. But having it in tiny bottles that I just clip on seems like a better idea than stuffing cotton into my ears or pulling my T-shirt over my head like Beavis and Butthead. (which I have done) I’m thinking that hanging tiny bottles from my glasses might be the trick and you have inspired me along with the rotten shrimp trick – but I’ll stick to citronella. I don’t need to trap them just mask the odor of my brains. You are smart and active. Too many brilliant people don’t act on their ideas. You are my action hero.

  17. Ev Wilcox says:

    Your pics of dead fruit flies were interesting on their own. The first one looks like The Big Dipper, the second like a dog on it’s side. After that they just look like mob scenes! I will be putting the directions on how to make the best trap in my Misc file–I hate fruit flies! Once again you have saved us from a terrible fate. Thanks, Karen!

  18. Terri J. says:

    Truly a handy experiment. Those buggers can get the best of you if you don’t act quickly…..but even better is the visual I will be thinking about all day…. “a sloth on Prozac”!!! Thanks Karen!!

  19. Mo says:

    I like the fact that you were able to keep all of the fruit flies intact, albiet for a few fruit fly bits in photo #2. Lol.

  20. Gayle'' says:

    I use the red wine vinegar also,but add a drop or two of dish soap. Put a lid on it, shake it till bubbly, then remove the lid. They land on the bubbles and cannot get out, eventually sinking to the depths of the vinegar to their bubbly death.

    Then, there was the bald face hornet trap, using the shop vac. They were nesting inside the soffit overhang in my house. Great entertainment, it was. If anyone is interested, I can give details.

    • whitequeen96 says:

      Yup, I got a nest of ants out of a small hole in my wall with the hose attachment of my Dyson vacuum. It’s a great vacuum AND entertainment!

      I’ll bite; what are the details?

      • Gayle'' says:

        We filled the tank halfway with water and a good splash of bleach, and then put the hard extension on the end of the hose and duct taped it to the downspout with the hose right at the opening where the lil buggers were coming and going (not without a bite or two ) and waited for early dusk. Once we saw that they were coming back for the night, we turned on the vac. When they flew toward the opening the vac, it sucked them into the tank to drown. Once it was dark we’d turn off the vac for the night. Over 3 days we trapped several hundreds of them each day. Sorry, but I did not get an exact count. lol We learned that the neighbors didn’t notice the vac running a couple hours each night, either.

        • whitequeen96 says:

          Now that DOES sound like fun! ;-) Per Jeff Foxworthy, “You might be a redneck if you consider a six-pack and a bug zapper to be quality entertainment.” I don’t know where you’re from. but at heart, this little old LA gal (that’s Los Angeles!) appreciates the simple joys in life!

        • whitequeen96 says:

          That emoji is supposed to be winking, not frowning. Oh darn, now all sorts of people will flame us for our idea of entertainment. Which reminds me, time for me to flame Karen – murderous wretch!

  21. MrsChris SA says:

    Mmmmm – wonder if it will work for ordinary South African horrible, disgusting, in your summer face flies!!

    Must give that a bash and see if it works.

    PS: You have a lot of patience counting all those dead fruit flies….. #just saying :-)

  22. Jan in Waterdown says:

    I should be asleep since it’s past 1am here but I’m lying in bed cruising my iPad cuz I hab a code and I can’t freekin’ stop sneezing. And I keep having to wipe off the screen. Well that’s a disgusting image. Sorry. What was the topic? Oh yeah, fruit flies. So what I wanna know is where the heck do they come from? One day they’re not there and the next it’s an invasion of the little buggers. That’s all I got for now. Maybe I’ll go get me some Jack Daniels to help me sleep and catch some flies too . . . win, win. Night night.

  23. Cred says:

    The cone trap so what I use, too. Da best!

  24. Stephbo says:

    And here all along I thought you were supposed to use honey to catch more flies. ?

    Ants. Ants are what I need help with. Those bastards come in and help themselves to everything in my kitchen which isn’t hermetically sealed. I fear I might be featured one night on the 6:00 news after burning down my house in an effort to get rid of them. (I’d do it if I thought it would work.)

    • Gayle'' says:

      Try sprinkling some cornmeal where the ants are coming in — they drag it back to the nest and then starve to death because they cannot digest it. I used it on a huge nest in my lawn — I mean like 18 inches across — and it worked. These were the large black ants (they would bite me whilst I was trying to garden. Ouch!). Cornmeal also prevents weeds seeds (or any seeds ) from sprouting, too.

    • whitequeen96 says:

      I use Dr. Bronner’s liquid peppermint soap to keep ants out. I mix it with a little water and spray it where they come in and they stay away. Makes your house smell nice and is non-toxic!

      • Stephbo says:

        I’ve used peppermint oil, but so far it only makes them reroute, or they leave for a day and then come right back. They’re persistent.

    • Richard says:

      Plain cinnamon has worked for me. Also cleaning up with orange oil based cleaners has helped. Treating your yard and house surround with beneficial nematodes as well as keeping an organic lawn care program including supplementing the microbial soil food with molasses can help quite a bit. (Odd as that last bit may sound, it has been observed in field trials of non related study)

    • Amber says:

      Diatomaceous earth, food grade. Dust it all over. Bugs can’t touch it.

    • anna faye presley says:

      you can also use baby powder

  25. Kailee H says:

    I usually keep a jar of vinegar with a pump or two of soap mixed into it on the counter for flies. It keeps the numbers way down but there are usually still a bunch buzzing around this time of year. But no more! I bought an electric flyswatter off amazon and hunted those buggers down with glee! Best $10 I have ever spent. Now whenever my two year old hears the zap of a fly biting the dust she exclaims “I got it!” for me.

  26. Linda says:

    I have a decanter (with a pouring dispenser spout). It contains some old ice wine that I use in place of sherry for cooking. I made the mistake of leaving it on the counter – discovered it is also very effective at trapping the little bugs.

    Nice dedication though – counting the flies for us ;-)

  27. Paula says:

    Great tip! Great timing…again. Canned peaches and made salsa this weekend so I have a ‘few’ fruit flies around.

  28. Kristy says:

    You know what else the little bastards like? Tequila with ruby red grapefruit juice. Evidently they like to share drinks with me too. I stopped drinking that mix because they love it so much.

  29. Ardith says:

    Some might say that you have a bit too much time on your hands, counting fruit flies and all. Just sayin’.

    • bill keiser says:

      Yeah, but she does it for a living. How many of us envy her for that?

    • Karen says:

      Or some might say, WOW. I wish I was so smart that I could actually make a living by doing something as easy as counting fruit flies. ;) ~ karen!

      • Ardith says:

        Well that was a joke that clearly landed on its arse. My apologies, Karen.

        • Karen says:

          Oh I knew it was! Not to worry! ~ karen!

        • judy says:

          having a mouth that every time it opens says something at some point that lands on its arse I found this ooops explanation priceless and one that I will keep in mind the next time I decide to give my adult offspring advice or a friend an opinion re: what I think about anything she has just bought or dated or read etc.!

        • Ardith says:

          Hi Judy, love your comment. You and Karen are very gracious. I, on the other hand, need to stick to my day job. Cheers, Ardith

  30. I’m darn glad we don’t have fruit fly here, but I admire your dedication. Now if someone could figure out how to keep ants out of the house… and don’t tell me about sugar traps, because these tiny monsters just laugh at them. They eat MEAT. Yep, they’d probably carry us away if we stayed still long enough and I’m sure they’ll be back this summer.

    • Marlene says:

      Hi Heidi
      Sprinkle corn flour where your ants are. Non-toxic to us and pets, and ants love it. They’ll cart it back to their nest, eat it, and peg off as they can’t digest it! You’ll need to do it for ab out 2 weeks to ensure you get them all.

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