Finding tiny fruit flies, or fungus gnats, loitering just above the surface of potted plant dirt is a common nuisance for indoor gardeners. These pests feed on the decaying organic matter and fungi in potting soil, although they do not cause any damage to plants. Fruit flies depend upon rotting organic debris to complete their life cycles, which is why you may also find them in the kitchen as they zero in on overripe fruits. The good news is that they are easy to get rid of without chemicals, so you won’t need to invest a fortune in pest control products.

Step 1

Spread a layer of aquarium gravel or very coarse sand over the top of the infested dirt in the plant pot. Pick a color to accent your room décor. Fruit flies lay their eggs in topsoil, where the young hatch. The gravel or sand particles will prevent newly hatched larvae from climbing out of the soil. They soon die and interrupt this cycle.

Step 2

Color both sides of a 3-by-5-inch index card solid yellow with a highlighter. Glue or staple one end of a wood craft stick to one side of the card to create a plant stake. Smear enough petroleum jelly on each side of the yellow card to coat it thickly and evenly. Poke the stake into your potted plant’s dirt. Fruit flies are attracted to yellow sticky traps.

Step 3

Pour about 1/4 inch apple cider vinegar, fruit juice or beer into a disposable plastic cup. Add a drop of liquid dish soap, and stir to blend thoroughly. Cover the cup loosely with plastic wrap. Secure with a rubber band. Poke some holes in the plastic wrap with a toothpick.

Step 4

Set the trap near the infested plant. Fruit flies are attracted to fermentation and cannot resist these traps. The bugs enter the holes, touch down on the liquid and drown. Even though the critters are light enough to walk on water, the soap in the solution breaks the surface tension and prevents their escape.

Step 5

Monitor your watering practices carefully. You may be loving your plants too much. Give just enough water to keep them from wilting. Fruit flies are attracted to damp dirt. Eggs and larvae present in soil cannot survive if it doesn’t remain moist at all times.

Step 6

Empty plant saucers immediately after watering to prevent moisture from accumulating in the area. The dirt in the pot will also tend to dry out a little, further discouraging fruit fly infestation.

Things You Will Need

  • Aquarium gravel or very coarse sand
  • 3-by-5 index cards
  • Yellow highlighter
  • Glue or stapler
  • Wood craft stick
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Apple cider vinegar, fruit juice or beer
  • Disposable plastic cup
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Plastic wrap
  • Rubber band
  • Toothpick
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