With the harvest season upon us, and bowls of plums, tomatoes, and apples crowding the counters, fruit flies are proliferating madly. Some things, like tomatoes, just can’t go in the fridge without altering their flavor, and ferment more quickly when covered. But if even one skin breaks, the flies descend! There are lots of fruit fly control methods out there. Here’s our latest madcap plan: we’ve positioned a carnivorous Venus Flytrap alongside our countertop tomato bowl.
Fruit flies are sometimes a little light to trigger the snapping mechanism of the flytrap, but they do stick to the fly-attracting substance the plant produces, and even this one little plant has managed to catch several flies. We’re going to add a sticky sundew (another carnivorous bog plant) to our Botanical Anti-Fruit Fly Force. And while it’s admittedly not making a huge dent in the fruit fly population, our new trap sure does entertain us. Even Claire, our radical little bodhisattva vegetarian, gets in on the fun, feeding the plant flies she catches in the chicken coop. “It’s gotta eat,” she says.
If you obtain carnivorous plants from a nursery, make sure they have been cultivated, and not torn from fragile bog habitats. Most nurseries are ethical about such things, but it’s worth asking where their carnivores come from. Keep the plants very moist, preferably in a bowl of water.
The fruit fly life cycle is crazy-fast–egg to adult in seven days– and it’s hard to match their menacing tenacity. The very best way to control fruit flies is scrupulous sanitation:
- Keep fruit with even the tiniest bit of broken skin in the fridge.
- Wipe counters, wash dishes, rinse out sinks immediately.
- Wipe the edges of open wine bottles, and keep them in the fridge if you can (just one fruit fly in the bottle with give the rest of the wine a sick-sweet taste).
- Even with their skins on, bananas are great fruit fly attractor, so it’s best to avoid them (who needs bananas anyway, with all the gorgeous local produce to be had?).
- Take out your compost scraps twice a day, and keep them covered between-times. Ditto the gargabe can.
- Make a simple trap by dropping a few of their favorite foods (skinned plums, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, wine…) in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap that has little holes poked in it–the fruit flies will get in, but look at how tiny those brains must be; they won’t get out.
- And just for fun, add a Venus flytrap or two!
PS: This post now has a follow-up, Sundews: The Best Carnivorous Plants for Catching Fruit Flies.