Fruit flies are troublesome pests drawn to ripened organic matter. Although they don’t cause any damage to houseplants, they are a major health hazard.
These harbingers of bacteria carry disease-causing agents, making them more than just a nuisance. Getting rid of fruit flies in house plants may be challenging, but it is not impossible.
The key to conquering fruit flies is to catch the infestation early. Use these tips to kill them and prevent them from returning.
Control Fruit Fly Population with Cinnamon
Cinnamon acts as a natural fungicide that is very effective against fruit flies.
The overpowering scent of cinnamon repels the invading fruit flies in Michigan or any other place in the United States of America. All you have to do is bundle a handful of cinnamon sticks together in an open container.
A common strategy is to use a mason jar without a lid. Larger rooms will need more sticks for the smell to diffuse.
The scent will act as a natural repellent and promptly drive the fruit flies away. You might want to replace the cinnamon sticks once a month.
You can also use a diffuser with cinnamon essential oils to spread the smell. Another idea is to spray cinnamon on the top layer of soil in the pot. Doing so will kill both adults and larvae.
You can combine the above methods by lighting up a few cinnamon incense sticks. This drives the flies away and makes your room smell great at the same time.
Read Why Are There Little Flies in My House Plant?
Remove Their Sources of Food
It isn’t uncommon for houseplant soils to contain decaying organic matter and fungus. The organic matter creates a breeding and feeding ground for fruit flies.
Getting rid of fungus and decaying matter will drive the fruit flies away.
Spray your houseplants with dishwashing liquid to prevent the growth of fungi. This will also deter harmful pests like house flies.
You will have to keep your home free of ripening or over-ripe fruits. Doing this will prove to be highly effective against fruit flies in Michigan.
Keeping all surfaces clean of food residue that could decay is good practice. Sink drains, for example, are buzzing with fruit fly activity.
The damp spots are ideal for fruit flies to lay their eggs.
You should also move wet clothes from your room if they have houseplants. If this is not possible, relocate the houseplants.
Control the Humidity of the Room
You can also prevent fungus by reducing the humidity of your environment.
Fruit flies mostly like to breed in areas with very high humidity. Dehumidifying your room could be counterintuitive to house plants – so tread carefully.
A common trick is to cover the soil with sand. This can reduce the moisture in the pot and is very easy for most beginners. The soil will make the environment less hospitable for house flies.
Just make sure to use soil specifically designed for your house plants.
If your house planter uses a tray underneath, empty it immediately to prevent moisture buildup. You can also move the houseplant out of your room if the area is too humid.
Read Why Are My House Plant Leaves Turning Black?
Effective Soil Management
Fruit flies in Michigan are drawn to potting soil for two reasons. The first is to eat the decaying organic materials. And the second is to lay eggs below the surface of the soil.
We recommend using soils containing slow-decaying organic materials such as fiber and charcoal.
You may also use inorganic materials like perlite. Well-draining soils are better because they decay at a slower rate.
i) Disturb the Soil
Make it difficult and inconvenient for fruit flies to hatch their eggs on the soil. You can do this by disturbing the soil to disrupt the breeding cycle.
Turn over the surface of the soil to expose the eggs to light. This will create less-than-ideal conditions for the larvae to survive. The fruit flies will also find it difficult to lay more eggs.
You can also place a layer of pebbles or gravel to upset the breeding cycle.
Alternatively, you can allow the topsoil to completely dry. Just make sure your plants can survive the ensuing drought.
You may have to re-pot the house plant if these techniques don’t work. Discard the infested soil far away from your plants and disinfect the pot for reuse.
ii) Place Matchsticks into the Soil of the House Plant
Using matchsticks is a simple and effective technique to kill house fly larvae.
Place a handful of matchsticks into the soil with the heads facing down. Keep the matchsticks two inches from the edge of the pot.
The head of the matchstick is composed of phosphorus, magnesium, and sulfur. These chemicals will dissolve into the soil and eliminate the fruit fly larvae.
More importantly, these chemicals will help your plants grow. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.
You can replace the matchsticks once their heads have fully dissolved. This is a quick and cost-effective trick that doesn’t break the bank.
iii) Kill the Larvae with Hydrogen Peroxide Solution
Hydrogen peroxide is a potent chemical that will kill fruit fly larvae on contact. Just make sure to dilute it with water to protect your plants.
Simply mix one part hydrogen peroxide with four parts water. Now spray the mixture into your soil.
Fruit flies are annoying, but they would not be a match for hydrogen peroxide.
iv) Prune Dead Foliage
It is important to trim dying or dead foliage from your plant. Clearing off dead foliage is particularly important if they are close to the soil line.
Try to trim dead foliage daily or at least once a week. Remember, decaying organic material is food for fruit flies.
Read How to Treat House Plant Fungus
Set Traps to Catch and Kill Fruit Flies
You can lure fruit flies by using vinegar, vine, and yeast.
Prepare a mixture of dishwashing liquid soap and apple cider vinegar. Pour the mixture into a bowl and cover the container with a wrapper.
Poke large holes to allow the fruit flies to penetrate the surface. Now all you have to do is place the trap near the infested house plant.
The fruit flies will be able to enter the bowl through the hotels. But they won’t have enough power to escape.
You can also place an old beer bottle near the infested house plant. The house flies will be attracted to the stale smell of the beer. They will enter the bottle but won’t be able to escape from its narrow neck.
Fly Traps and Sticky Cards
Another tried and tested strategy is to use fly traps. You can buy them from Amazon to trap the flies and stop them from breeding.
Fly traps can be placed above the surface of the soil. You can monitor which pests are lurking near your houseplant and keep tabs on them.
Just make sure to replace your fly traps and sticky cards every month. If the fly traps are covered in fruit flies, you’ll have to replace them.
Grow a Carnivorous Plant
You probably didn’t expect this strategy – but it is highly effective.
Carnivorous plants like sundews, also known as flypaper plants, have sticky hairs on their leaves. They can easily get rid of fruit flies and even fungus gnats early on.
Make sure to place the carnivorous plants near the infestation or your houseplants.
Here are our top picks for accessible carnivorous plants you can grow.
i) Venus Fly Trap
Venus fly traps are arguably the most popular carnivorous plants. They are the subject of countless movies and novels.
Venus fly traps produce a sweet-smelling sap as bait to catch flies. Note that venus fly traps aren’t very effective against a swarm of flies.
You can satiate their hunger by feeding them three to four flies. This isn’t very effective.
ii) Sundew Plant
They are the best carnivorous plant you can use to kill fruit flies. Sundew plants produce sweet mucilage to lure unsuspecting fruit flies.
Placing just a few sundew plants near your houseplants will dwindle the population of houseflies.
iii) Pitcher Plant
The next best thing on the menu is the pitcher plant.
These plants effectively kill fruit flies, wasps, and bees. They lure their victims using visual lures such as anthocyanin pigments and nectar.
The moist rim of the pitcher causes fruit flies to fall into their trap.
Read How to Fertilize Houseplants Naturally
Grow Indoor Plants that can Repel Fruit Flies
Some house plants, like mint, sage, and basil, can repel fruit flies.
These plants have natural insecticides with a strong odor that fruit flies hate. This will drive the fruit flies away from your house plants.
Let’s take a look at house plants that can repel house flies.
Basil is a good choice for keeping fruit flies away. Not only does it look good, but it repels fruit flies and other nasty bugs.
It has been in use since ancient times for pest control because of the odor. You can also use them occasionally as garnish.
If you want to keep those persistent house flies away, try planting lavender. This beautiful herb looks amazing and smells heavenly.
The best part is that it naturally deters fruit flies, fleas, and beetles. You may use the plant in your bedroom since it has properties to aid sleep.
What makes rosemary so effective as a house fly repellant is its intense odor. So, plant rosemary instead of using toxic insecticides to ward off bugs.
You can also keep it in your kitchen for cooking and keeping insects at bay.
Lemon balm contains high citronellal levels, a compound with a lemony aroma. The flavor and odor of lemon is unpleasant to fruit flies.
They are easy to grow and make a nice companion plant in mixed pots. Place it near a fruit fly infestation to repel them.
Read Can You Be Allergic to Houseplants?
Last Line of Defense: Pesticides
You might need a stronger approach if nothing else seems to be working.
Visit your local garden store to buy house plant pesticides and spray on the plant. They should be rated for indoor use.
In most cases, your plant should survive the onslaught of pesticides. They will show a few signs of damage, but nothing that would kill the plant.
Just make sure the pesticides are meant for indoor use; otherwise, they could do damage.
Read Why Your House Plant is Sticky
Identify the Pest: Fruit Flies versus Fungus Gnats
The first step in killing fruit flies is to know about them. Most people confuse fruit flies with gnats. However, the two are completely different.
It is important to identify which pests are hovering around your house plants. Otherwise, your strategy of getting rid of the pests may not work.
Fruit flies, also known as the lesser fruit fly, are two-winged insects drawn to plants. They have a small, oval structure that is only 1/8th of an inch long.
They have a characteristic black abdomen with a gray underbelly. The appearance of fruit flies is slightly tan with red, distinct eyes.
You may also find darker fruit flies. In other words, it’s hard to miss these creatures loitering around your precious houseplants.
On the other hand, fungus gnats have a darker structure with long legs and antennae. These small, winged pests resemble mosquitoes due to their skinny legs.
To deal with fungus gnats, add a thin layer of pebbles over the potting soil. This is because fungus gnats cannot lay their eggs in pebbles.
Fruit flies are mostly looking for a breeding spot to hatch their eggs. A major problem with fruit flies is that their larvae feed on fruits and vegetables.
The worst part is how rapidly they can multiply. An average fruit fly female can lay nearly 700 eggs in her lifetime.
These eggs hatch into adult fruit flies in one week in the hot summer months.
The biggest risk of a fruit fly infestation is the spread of disease and bacteria. The sooner you can contain a fruit fly infestation, the better.
Once you’ve identified the pest as fruit fly, you can find effective strategies for their removal.
Fruit flies are an annoying problem that is drawn to houseplants. Even if they don’t directly harm the plants, they carry a health risk to you.
Moreover, it doesn’t take long for their population to grow. This will make your house plants look dull.
So it is important to remove them as soon as you detect their presence. Our recommendation is to try natural ways first before resorting to insecticides. A good preventive method is to keep the surroundings of your plants clean.
You may like the following house plant articles:
- Why Are My House Plant’s Leaves Curling Up?
- How to Kill House Plant Bugs
- Why is My Houseplant Wilting
- Why Is My House Plant Dying
- How Often Should I Water a Houseplant?
Hi! I’m Sophia, and I love plants – especially an expert in growing house plants. I stay in Chicago, United States of America, and through my blog and social media platforms, provide tips and tricks on how to grow healthy, vibrant plants indoors. Check out more here.