How to Make a Simple Fruit Fly Trap

By Mary Hunt

January 7, 2014 3 min read

Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly, and I go way back to my high school biology class and a unit on genetics. We raised fruit flies in little Petri dishes. Then we'd anesthetize them so we could look at them through the microscope to see how our genetic predictions sized up with the number and gender of babies born overnight. It was great fun.

The most amazing thing, however, was not how easy it was to understand dominant traits and inherited characteristics, but how fast those suckers multiplied.

Fruit flies live to find fermenting fruit. They can detect the smell of ripe fruits and vegetables from miles away. If there's a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter, there's probably a swarm of fruit flies looking for a way into your home to get to it. Because these insects are so tiny, they can get in through window screens or crevices around windows or doors. Once inside, they reproduce. Before you know it, you're dealing with a full-fledged fruit fly infestation.

While I remember them as being so adorable in their little Petrie dishes, fruit flies are anything but cute buzzing around your head or dive-bombing anything that could be considered edible. Even a single critter can be so annoying.

Conventional wisdom says that if you are careful to remove every trace of detectable food source, you will have no fruit flies. Don't believe it. For days this one tiny drosophila was driving us crazy at DPL Central. I promise you that I scoured this place upside down and inside out to make sure there was not a single morsel of food out in the open. That sent me on a mission to put an end to this once and for all.

I tried several home remedies, which didn't work to nab that fly. Then I found it — the single effective fruit fly trap. It is quite simple:

First make sure that you have fruit or another detectable food source sitting out and available.

Next, assemble these three items:

A small glass bowl, plastic wrap and apple cider vinegar. Any other type of vinegar will not work. It must be apple cider vinegar.

Pour some vinegar in the bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, pulling the wrap back just a tiny bit at one edge to allow for entry.

That's it. Just set it out on the counter and go about your business.

It took a day to nail that little pest who flew in to enjoy his final meal. And while I was quite sure there was only one fly driving us crazy, apparently it was a family of five.

Mary Hunt is the founder of, a personal finance member website. You can email her at [email protected], or write to Everyday Cheapskate, P.O. Box 2099, Cypress, CA 90630. To find out more about Mary Hunt and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

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