Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Shoo Fly, Don’t Bother Me

Several of us around here have been having issues with fruit flies in our kitchens, so we were thrilled to read Shannon’s tip: “I find that flies and fruit flies can be quite the nuisance in the summer. (Especially in a house with no screens!) Cider vinegar and/or red wine are sure fire fruit fly traps. Use any sort of container with a small opening. The flies can get in, but not out. Keep the container in the kitchen and change daily. To keep away regular flies, keep a few potted basil plants around in your kitchen. It will keep the flies away as well as give you delicious fresh herbs all year long.” I’ve tried the cider vinegar tip and it does seem to work reasonably well. I recycled one of our plastic prepared foods containers and just cut a hole in the top. I think I need to try it with a smaller opening, though. Anyone else have some ideas for dealing with flies and other household pests in natural ways?

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41 comments

Comments

Noelle says …

Fruit flies lay their eggs on the outside of fruit. If you wash the fruit before you put it out the problem should go away. Use the natural fruit/vegetable wash you normally use. I have found this to be very effective.

Libby Schwartz says …

Did you know that ground CLOVES will keep ants out of your house? Spread a line of cloves where ants enter. Bye-bye ants.

Libby Schwartz says …

And...is that red wine, as what was left over from last night's dinner, or red wine vinegar?

Gail says …

Another good deterent is to starve those fruit flies. Use the plastic bags from the produce section that you bring your fresh fruits and vegetables in to throw away all peels and other fruit and vegetable waste. If you tie the bag up when you're done, and keep all other fresh fruits and veggies in the fridge, the fruit flies have nothing to eat. Especially important in the summer months.

Jean says …

Sage from the garden works well to repel fruit flies. I just left a couple of stalks of it on the counter for a couple of days and they were gone!

Cathy Hauen says …

If you add 2 drops of dishwahing liquid to 1/3 cup cider vinegar this seems to work better than the cidar vinegar alone. I don't put a lid on at all and this works really well. Also sprinkling corn meal around where the ants are coming in is a great deterant as well. They take it back to the nest, can't digest it and so they die. It is safe for kids and pets! And finally, sprinkle cayenne pepper around your plants and under your bird feeders. Squirrels will not bother your garden or try to eat your bird seed as they can't stand the pepper. And if you can't keep cats out of your vegetable garden, plant a row of green onions around the edges and the cats will stay far away!

Di Sudduth says …

In addition to the other great suggestions, ants also hate cinnamon! My sister-in-law repelled an invasion of fire-ants in her Dallas home by sprinkling cinnamon in their path. Entirely safe for her kids and their pets, and the ants started leaving immediately and were GONE within a day.

Ellen Lang says …

Old-fashioned hanging glass fly/wasp catchers need only a little honey or sugar water inside and they are very effective as well as reusable. To see one you can search on eBay: glass (fly,wasp) catch*.

Christine says …

We have killed ALL the fruit flies in our house by finding a bottle with a narrow opening, making a funnel out of an old piece of paper and adding a 1/2 cup or so of apple cider vinegar. Because of the funnel, the fruit flies can get in, but they are not smart enough to fly back up the funnel, so they eventually drown. They can't get back out at all, so it's a great trap! We have one out all the time in an inconspicuous place, and it works perfectly.

Maria L Ayres says …

When I want natural advise about repelling insects I go to my mother. She is the daughter of a migrant farmer from the 1920's through 1930's. Her mother, my grandmother, knew of no other way then natural to get rid of pests. When I asked her about fruit flies she said the best way her mom knew was just to wash the fruit clean and not buy more then you can eat. Though then they just picked it from the trees on the farm. As for ants the remedy was salt laid down in their path. I grew up using these methods and have passed them down to my chidren. I know of no better way to protect the environment then to teach the children.

Sara Smith says …

Another way to get rid of fruit flys is with a small hand vacumn. They are so light they are just sucked right up.

Paul Guenther says …

A very effective "pesticide" can be made using dish detergent and water. A couple of ounces of detergent in a pint of water. I put this in a spray bottle and soak the victim. The theory works this way: Insects (and spiders) have breathing holes on their sides that are protected by hairs. The detergent defeats the hair and allows the water to clog the breathing holes thus drowning the bug. The faster the insect's metabolism, the faster this method works. I prefer catch and release but there are times.... I have not tried this on garden pests such as aphids and the like but it might work there also.

Tanya says …

Both ants & mice hate peppermint.Each spring I had an ant problem until I started washing my floors with liquid peppermint castile soap. I add a few drops of essential oil in the mop water and here and there as well.

Sun Enge says …

I prefer to use sticky tape, hanging from the ceiling. No noxious chemicals, just a molassas mix that attracts the the little buzzers and they get stuck to it. Inexpensive, environmentally friendly, and very easy. Just unroll it (Carefully so as to not get stuck yourself!) and hang from the ceiling where the flies are the worst.

Maudy Hedlund says …

Here's a suggestion to keep your house safe and free of ants. 1: Vacuum the entire room(s) to remove food crumbs that are attracting the ants. 2: Sweep a thin, unbroken line of baking soda into the crevices where you see the ants coming from. 3: If needed, create a continuous line with baking soda around the footprint of your home. Bugs will never cross this line.

Rose says …

Just plain water is the easiest available way to keep fruit flies from starting life cycles in your home. Any fruit or vegetable that is NOT going to be refrigerated needs only to be rinsed with plain water. If you are going to eat the peel (or whole vegie) you'll want to wash, or at least rinse, anyway so it is an easy habit to acquire. And if you are concerned about pesticide residue on the edible peels you only need to use the more expensive commercial fruit/vegie wash products on those. I only use plain water on my bananas and oranges as I never eat their peels.

Kari M. says …

To keep slugs away, put a few small containers in your garden so the lip of the container is even with the ground. You'll have to dig a few small holes. Put some beer in the containers and the slugs will go into the containers and drown. As well, some cayenne pepper around the perimeter of your house will keep ants out - my dad has done this every year since I was a kid and it really works!

Tonia Ollerton says …

For "regular" house flies, putting soapy water in a spray bottle and spraying it directly on them liberally when they appear by the windows, kills them. Yes, it really does work! No pesticides necessary and no fly swatters that they learn to hide from! I use a couple of squirts of one of the Dr. Bronner's soaps and fill the rest of the spray bottle with water. I suppose regular dishwashing detergent would work too. Here in South Texas, flies are everywhere and impossible to keep out of the house; I wish I'd learned this earlier!

Dushenka says …

I second the washing the fruit and not buying more than you can eat comments also the cinnamon, clove and mint comments for ants. I put lavender oil behind the ears of my cats and dogs in the summer and I keep dried lavender around my linens, pillows, and mattresses. This keeps away fleas.

Dushenka says …

Garlic planted around rose bushes keeps away aphids.

Kathy Turner says …

I've been using basil to kill flies for years now. What I do is take a small lid, add a little milk and add some crushed basil. Think basil milk tea. Anyhow, the flies come over, drink and die. Not sure why, but it works fabulously. I try to hide the lid behind a curtain. Don't forget about it though - trust me on that.

Lynn Straub says …

To ward off fruit flies I wash all fruit and veggies as they are brought indoors in a bath of water & a splash of white vinegar. Rinse well and air dry on a cookie rack. For those other flying/biting buggers, indoors or outdoors I mist the area ( or on a hat you are wearing for gnats) using a spray bottle with a water with a couple drops of tea tree oil. The smell seems to drive them away. And its a natural antiseptic. Keep aways from cats!! Essential oil is harmful to a cat.

Travis McCartney says …

If you try any of the above methods for fruit flies and have not had any relief, you might have fungus gnats instead. The only way I managed to get rid of the fungus gnats is to check all the potted plants in the house for gnat larva and young adults (not yet flying). The annoying pests are usually found in potted plants because fungus is growing (natural for decomposition in dirt) because the dirt is not drying out between watering. Although it took a couple of weeks to get rid of all the flies, letting the pot dry works really well. Typically, depending on the soil of the pot, that means not watering for 1-3 weeks.

Ginny Stern says …

Use whole bay leaves to prevent a moth infestation in your kitchen. Stick one or two leaves right in the rice or cereal boxes; scatter them on all shelves; stick them in your herb and spice cabinet and around your pantry. Use the whole ones, so it won't look so messy. I haven't had a problem now for 3 summers. I change them every spring.

Rose Bates says …

I would like the natural recipe for the fruit/veggie wash. I have a commercial one but, would pefer one made from natural ingredients that will remove pesticides.

Wanda Garrity says …

For those ant problems inside the house, I like to put white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray around the doors and where they are getting in. There will not be another ant in site the next day.

Sally says …

For trapping fruit flies, I use Christine's method of making a funnel out of paper with a very small hole at the base of the funnel, then placing it in any glass container that has a small amount of wine in the bottom. the flies can't get out again. I've tried lots of other lures--bananas, cider vinegar, etc.--wine seems to work best for me. On a related note, to kill the deer- and dogticks that come inside on my dog, I put them in a small jar of water that has a drop of dish soap in it. They sink immediately and die soon after. It's better for the environment than flushing them down the toilet!

Rose Bates says …

slugs are not killed by beer, but by the yeast in the beer. so just plain bakers yeast works and snells better. we use the dry yeast. sprinkle some under the plants that are being eaten.

ashley says …

As a mom of three growing children I found that when I would buy produce before we could consume it the produce would go bad. Doesn’t surprise me seeing as how everything goes bad before you can eat it nowadays. Even if I would juice the produce it did not taste as fresh as the day I brought it home. I researched the reason and found that there is device that works in your refrigerator that will help prolong the shelf life of organic produce plus it kills bacteria. It is the best thing I have ever owned and I think everyone should own one. I found it at www.orderminimate.com its called the Mini Mate.I have had mine for over 60 days and it has already saved me $20.00 which is a fraction of what I paid for it. Has anyone else use this before?

ben says …

Enjoy a nice bottle of wine with a good friend (well not too nice or too expensive!). Leave about an inch behind, then let sit on counter overnight. Be sure now one comes by to finish off the bottle, because the next morning, there will be dead fruit flies in the bottle. It seems to work well with red wine.

Erin says …

Does anyone have any advice on getting rid of clothes moths? Will bay leaves work for those as well?

Sharon D. says …

I had clothes moths that escaped into the house. I had a pitcher of fertilizer water sitting out for the house plants. ( I know - chemical fertilizer is bad, but their pot plants). Many many moths and also fruit flies looking for water drowned in it. I threw away the food that they got to (dog and bird food especially). I swatted the rest of the moths with a fly swatter. So what do you use for clothes moths in the closet or drawer? I used one of the chemicals for moths (not moth balls).

Mary Anne Parker says …

If ants are on the rampage you can use a spray bottle filled with a diluted dishsoap and water solution. I use about a teaspoon of dishsoap to a bottle of water. I put the water in the bottle first and then the dishsoap, shake the spray bottle to mix and spray the areas of invading ants. A quick wipe of the area with a sponge makes it clean and ant free area. I may have to repeat this several times but I have had good results and even my neighbors and friends have been switching to this more environmentally friendly 'solution'.

Invisible Gardener says …

Its wonderful to hear some many different ways people have devised to control ants, flies, etc. I am concerned a bit because many methods discussed are not exactly naural nor organic and in most cases not very good for the soil. An exampe, baking soda. Do you know what happens if you place baking soda in and around soil? It will kill it. That is to say, it will kill the beneficial in the soil and cause more damage to any plants around it. I suggest that everyone that reads the various methods folks have come up with, to think about what the substance will do the the environment. I understand you think its safer then pesticides, but you are just substituting one one for another, so please think twice about what you are doing. I started doing ant treatment in the 6th grade and I learned from experience that you really can't do everything folks say works. Happy Growing Organically of course. P.S. if you need to spray something try using essential oils at 1 drop per quart. This is excellent inside the house. I like using Cinnamon oil. Andy Lopez Invisible Gardener

Melissa Spengler says …

To get rid of mosquitos in or outside just put some listeren mouthwash in a spray bottle and mist around where you will be sitting. The little bloodsuckers don't like it and will stay away.

Geraldine says …

For the ants outside, as well as a variety of other bugs, including roaches, I find that the diatomaceous earth works best. It's made from ground up seashells and punctures those little bugger's shells. Basil plants are also a natural repellent for mosquitos. I keep several on my back deck and spread some leaves around when company arrives. If you ants coming in through the windows, dryer sheets will keep them out. They won't cross them.

Geraldine says …

To # 25 Rose Bates -- If you use grapefruit seed extract in a bowl of cold water, that will work great for cleaning fruits/veggies.

Robin says …

ANTS, ANTS, GO AWAY!!!!!! I am looking for a natural solution to get rid of ants in my home. Since I'm not sure of their entry point, I would like to be able to spray all along the baseboards and on the hardwood flooring, but I don't want to damage the wood. Any suggestions???? Also, is cinnamon oil as effective as ground cinnamon in getting rid of ants??? If so, how do you apply it? Do you add the cinnamon oil to water and spray it or put it on cotton or what? Any help would be greatly appreciated!!!

Eva E. Wilkins says …

If you add a squirt of soap to the vinegar, swish around, the flies can't get out. I Keep an open mason jar with it and it works great!

lil dove says …

having a problem with fleas and other bugs, maybe bed bugs but have not seen any bed bugs in or on by bed. I do however work with dogs and maybe carry the fleas home with me. I also have a small roaches and little pests looking like crawling knats but don't fly. Now is there something herbal or natural that I can use? I'm so tired of spraying poisons. And can't really afford to get a new mattress. I vacume but they just keep coming back. Please help

Arnis says …

Is there an eco way of getting rid of fleas in the carpet and house