Easy Way to Control Fruit Flies NaturallySeptember 08, 2008
It’s September. Our edible gardens are overflowing. Delicious, sun-ripened tomatoes and peaches and melons are filling up our counter space as we make our way through the season’s edible bounty. If you’re like me, you avoid refrigeration for these freshly harvested items (and others) to ensure they retain great texture and flavor. Sure, eventually some end up in the fridge, but as others languish on the countertop, fruit flies are bound to find them.
Swarms of these little buggers explode from mounds of ripe seasonal fruits and vegetables, seeming to have emerged from nowhere. Their populations increase faster than we can consume our edibles, and they seem near-impossible to control.
Certainly, after putting in all the effort to produce (or purchase) un-sprayed, natural, organic foods, we’re not going to start spraying once they’re in our homes. And, without putting the harvest directly in the fridge, there seems no way to keep the fruit flies at bay. Even if we do put them in the fridge, the fruit flies may start gathering in our sinks (just to spite us, I think).
So, get to point, right? How can they be controlled?
For the last two years I’ve started keeping Sundew plants in my kitchen. Sun Dews (Drosera genus) are beautiful, carniverous plants. Their lovely leaves are covered with drops of, well, what else? Sticky dew-like droplets that trap tiny insects, which the plants then digest.
I keep my plant, for most of the year, on the window shelf over the kitchen sink. Here they get great morning sun that creates a spectacular sparkly show of dew drops for me to enjoy. As well, by keeping them above the sink, I’m more inclined to keep them very moist, which they require.
When I wash fruits and vegetables fresh from the garden, leaf hoppers often jump from my harvest and hit the sundew. Okay, I’ll admit that sometimes I catch the darn bugs and feed them to my plant. When the fruit flies erupt, I often place my tiny sundew amid the bowl full of fly-attracting deliciousness. The flies are also attracted to the plant, and it gets to enjoy harvest time almost as much as I do. And, sometimes the fruit flies just seem to be everywhere — swarming around a drip on a wine bottle or hovering near the seam of the compost tub. Occassionally, during these times, you’ll find me whirling my sundew through the air, capturing as many fruit flies as possible. But most of the time, just having the plant in the kitchen does the trick. It seems that by allowing my sundew to gorge itself on carniverous feasts during the harvest season, it requires little to no animal feeding the rest of the year.
One thing a sundew won’t do for you — it won’t clean pests off your houseplants. I had a houseplant that was infested with aphids. As a test, I put the sundew in the base of the plant’s pot and encouraged some aphids toward the sundew. Poor thing, it just got infested by the aphids. I won’t be trying that again!
Sundews grow in many places around the world and are made up of many different species within the genus. Odds are you’ll be able to find one that is native to a location near you. Check with local nurseries or specialty growers.
More information on Drosera is available:
Want to see a fruit fly struggling to get away from a drosera? The video’s a little rough, but still…