Posted by: Didapper PJ18 NOV 2009
As the old saying goes, “Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana.” Today I am going to write about fruit flies, tiny flying insects that do indeed love bananas but are also partial to other fruits and vegetables once they are past their prime and starting to rot.
Any tiny Diptera found lurking in your kitchen are probably fruit flies (Drosophilidae spp). They are particularly common in late summer and early autumn but can be a nuisance at any time of the year. They sneak into the house when you bring in fruit or vegetables from the garden and they may even tag along when you come home from the supermarket.
Also known as vinegar flies, they are typically 2–4mm long and yellowish-brown with black highlights and red eyes — though you are not likely to be able to confirm this unless you can persuade one to sit quietly on a microscope slide.
The female lays up to 500 eggs on fermenting foods in kitchens, in domestic rubbish and even on soiled mops and dishcloths. The eggs soon hatch into larvae, which feed on the rotting food and mature into adult flies within days.
The Didapper household has recently experienced a minor problem with fruit flies. Being conscientious citizens, we have a small green kitchen bin for food waste, which we transfer to a large green wheelie-bin for weekly disposal. Unfortunately, both bins have proved popular with the local Drosophilidae.
We have reduced the kitchen population by moving fruit to the refrigerator or sealed boxes and by emptying and cleaning the kitchen bin daily. The few persistent pests have succumbed to an eradication method I discovered through a search of the internet.
All you have to do is pour a little cider vinegar into a small jar, add a few drops of washing-up liquid and position it in a place frequented by the tiny vermin. The detergent reduces the surface tension of the liquid so that when the flies try to land on the meniscus they sink and drown. The method works. The only downside is a vinegary smell in that part of the kitchen.
I am now contemplating investing in an additional weapon — a Venus flytrap or two for the kitchen window-ledge.