‘Fruit flies’ ... get used to them

HELPFUL TIPS: How to control fruit flies

HOUSEHOLD "fruit flies" are invading the Northern Rivers and victims Natasha Garred and her three young children are fed up.

"They are literally everywhere - in the bathroom, over all our fruit in the kitchen, and even my baby's bottle," Ms Garred said.

BYE FLY: East Lismore mum Natasha Garred is sick of the vinegar flies that have invaded her home.
BYE FLY: East Lismore mum Natasha Garred is sick of the vinegar flies that have invaded her home. Cathy Adams

"On the weekend it got really bad; they swarmed. I just walked into the bathroom and they're all over the toothbrushes and toothpaste, at the other end of the house and nowhere near the fruit."

Horticulturist Phillip Wilk from the NSW Department of Primary Industries said the pests' real name was drosophila, or vinegar fly, and they weren't the same species as the agricultural pest feared by farmers.

"Drosophila is typically 2mm long, whereas the Queensland fruit fly, or dacus, is 5-10mm long," Mr Wilk said.

Mr Wilk said they were a problem at the moment because of the excessively humid and damp conditions, which vinegar flies adored.

The tiny insects love yeast, which sits on rotting vegetables and fruit, particularly bananas and stone fruits, but they also enjoy any kind of wet environment.

The good news is that vinegar flies don't pose a hygiene problem, so leave the insect spray in the cupboard. They're not attracted to dead animals or feces like regular flies, and don't carry disease.

The bad news is they're almost impossible to get rid of. Flyscreens won't make a difference to vinegar flies, as they're small enough to penetrate the tiny gaps.

"A bit of yeasty beer or apple cider vinegar will work great to catch them in a common clear plastic bottle, but if people don't close their doors (and windows) when they set the trap, they'll attract hordes of vinegar flies rushing for a feast," Mr Wilk said.

"The only real solution is the weather. Certainly by winter the situation will be okay.

"Just because they're there doesn't mean they're causing any trouble. My advice would be to forget about them; they're not causing any harm."

 

CONTROLLING VINEGAR FLIES (Drosophila)

  • Keep any kitchen and bathroom surfaces dry.
  • Dispose of any compost properly and cover with dry waste such as dry grass or newspaper.
  • Don't leave fruit lying about in the heat - put in fridge or cover bananas with mesh or a tea towel.
  • Vinegar flies love humid, wet, and mild weather conditions. They consume yeast on the surface of fruit and vegetables, rotting or fresh.
  • They will hang around green waste bins, compost and any wet environments, but they don't pose a hygiene problem.


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