Three kinds of carnivorous plants—Venus flytraps, pitcher plants, and sundews—are the best carnivorous plant for controlling fruit flies. Different carnivorous plants, however, work best in different situations.
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Fruit flies are an awful nuisance around the home. They attack fruit just as it becomes ripe and luscious. They swarm around any garbage can you don’t keep carefully shut with a tight-fitting lid, and they circle the drain in the kitchen. They land on mops and cleaning rags and Swiffer dusters. They land in salads and fruit cups and even sweetened soft drinks and iced tea.
Fruit flies can be the bane of an aerogarden. They can ruin tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and eggplants. They undo all your hard work and expectations of indoor hydroponic gardening.
Another issue with fruit flies is that they never quite go away on their own. Fruit flies are more visible in the summer, but that is because summer is the time of year you are most likely to have fruit and vegetables out on the counter for them to eat. Fruit flies commonly linger into the winter, hatching their babies 12 months a year.
Making the problem even worse is the fact that fruit fly larvae are a major food for cockroaches. Once you get fruit flies, cockroaches quickly follow. The fruit flies that survve marauding cockroaches go on to live for as long as 30 to 40 days, which is long-lived as flies go.
If you don’t want to be spraying insecticides in your kitchen all year long, there is a more natural alternative for fruit fly control: Carnivorous plants. While it is an exaggeration to say any carnivorous plant is a “fruit fly eating machine,” keeping a few pots of the three of the most common carnivorous plant may do the trick.
Related: How to Care for Carnivorous Plants
Venus Flytraps for Fruit Fly Control
Venus flytraps are the most popular plant for controlling fruit flies. They are the carnivorous plant everybody knows, and they are easy to find in nurseries and in retail stores.
Venus flytraps ooze a sweet-smelling sap that lures fruit flies to their doom. One big downside to using Venus flytraps for fruit fly control is that each trap can only catch and digest three or four fruit flies before it shuts down forever. Another problem is that the leaf of a Venus flytrap closes slowly so a fruit fly usually has a chance to escape before it is lethally trapped.
Pitcher Plants for Fruit Fly Control
Pitcher plants have pitcher-shaped leaves that serve as a pitfall trap for small insects of all kinds, not just fruit flies but also houseflies, wasps, and hornets. For centuries, they were a popular houseplant in southern Europe for all kinds of insect control.
The versatility of pitcher plants is their main drawback for fruit fly control. They can be so busy catching larger insects that they don’t significantly reduce the fruit fly population. If you have a serious flying bug problem, however, you may not care.
Sundew Plants for Fruit Fly Control
Sundew plants are the common carnivorous plant that comes closest to earning the title “fruit fly eating machine.” Like Venus flytraps, they secrete a sweet mucilage that attracts fruit flies to their leaves. Unlike Venus flytraps, they have leaves in a pattern that tiny passing insects are sure to sense. If one leaf doesn’t capture a passing fruit fly, the next leaf will.
Two or three pots of any of these carnivorous plants will help to keep kitchen fruit flies in check. But there are many other things you can do to lessen your fruit fly problem.
Other Home Remedies for Controlling Fruit Flies
For the best carnivorous plants for house flies, click here.
There are lots of simple, inexpensive, organic methods for controlling fruit flies that can augment your use of carnivorous plants.
Place about a quarter of a cup (50 to 60 ml) of vinegar and add a few drops of dish soap. The vinegar has the same scent as rotting fruit, at least to the fruit fly. Fruit flies fly in to feed on the vinegar but can’t fly out because of the soap.
Use a fruit fly drain treatment to stop the fruit flies that buzz around in your sinks.
You can also make your own trap for fruit flies. Place some overripe or rotting fruit in a jar. Let fruit flies gather on the fruit, and then dump them and the fruit in your outdoor trash receptacle.
Trap fruit flies with a mixture of red wine, mashed bananas, and ketchup. Poison their water supply by putting a stopper in the sink, turning on the faucet to add an inch or two (25 to 50 mm) of water, and then adding about a tablespoon (15 ml) of bleach to the water. Be sure not to mix bleach and ammonia, however, because this can release chlorine gas.
Make a candle trap for fruit flies. Place a candle (or two or three) in a dish, attach the candles with candle wax, and then pour a small amount of water into the dish. After sundown, light the candles and then turn off all other sources of light in the room. The light will attract fruit flies and the water will drown them.
You can use essential oils to lure and trap fruit flies. Fruit flies are attracted to a compound called eugenol. It is abundant in the essential oils of cinnamon, galangal root, hyssop, and artemesia. Add any of these essential oils to water plus a drop or two of detergent to lure and trap your fruit flies.
Good housekeeping also deters fruit flies. Always cover your trash can. Repair leaky trash cans. Never leave dirty dishes in the sink. Don’t water your houseplants so often that they grow fungus (fruit fly food) in the soil.
Related: Best Carnivorous Plants for Gnats
One More Reason You Want to Use Carnivorous Plants to Control Fruit Flies
We are saving one more reason you want to use carnivorous plants to keep fruit flies in check for last, because it’s, well, disgusting. Fruit flies don’t bite. They can’t spread blood-borne diseases like malaria, Zika, or West Nile Virus.
Fruit flies, however, are indiscriminate about their food sources. They zero in on any kind of vinegar or ammonia smell. In addition to dining on over 200 different kinds of decaying fruits, vegetables, and berries, they also feed on dung.
Animal waste can be rife with E. coli and Salmonella. Male fruit flies don’t land long enough on your food to leave many bacteria from animal feces. Female fruit flies, however, lay their eggs in the skin of decaying fruit, and can leave enough fecal bacteria behind to make you sick.
Fruit fly eggs can’t be removed just by washing. They have to be removed by peeling. This means that there is no way to get them out of berries and soft fruits you eat whole.
It’s always a good idea to take an aggressive stance toward fruit fly control. Control fruit flies with carnivorous plants, and with every other natural remedy you can find.
Commercial fruit fly traps laced with poisons have their limitations. The fruit-scented BEAPCO trap, for instance, kills fruit flies for 30 days, but only when there aren’t any other food sources in the room.