Fruit flies are one of those household pests that seem to come out of nowhere and can be tricky to get rid of. These very small flying insects, which look like gnats or tiny versions of houseflies, can suddenly appear around ripe fruits and vegetables or other moist organic material. They particularly love bananas for the color and sweet taste, and once they’ve decided your home is worthy of their domain, they are difficult to evict.
Fortunately, there are products you can buy as well as DIY remedies you can use to rid your home of the pesky creatures.
Fruit fly tips
How fruit flies get inside
As your produce ripens and begins to rot, fruit flies are attracted to it and lay up to 500 eggs on the surface of the food. When the eggs hatch and become larvae, they are officially an infestation and continue to feed on the fermenting food. The entire egg-to-adult-fly life cycle takes only a week, so your home can seemingly be pest-free one day and infested the next.
Fruit flies can enter your home through an open door or window, or you can bring them home along with your purchased produce. If a fruit fly in a grocery store lays eggs on your tomato, you can bring a swarm home in your produce bag. Fruit flies can also find their way into your garbage disposal and start a family there.
How to get rid of them
Of course, the first thing you should try when getting rid of fruit flies is eliminating the breeding areas. Make sure you consume produce before it begins to go bad, and dispose of any food that is too far gone. Keep potential breeding grounds clean, and check for spills around garbage cans, compost bins and under the sink. Make sure you run your garbage disposal frequently. Wash produce when you get home to get rid of any existing eggs, and then store food in the fridge when possible. Take out the trash frequently, and clean up spills immediately.
If you’ve cleaned your kitchen thoroughly and are still seeing fruit flies, it’s time to trap and destroy them.
Products to try
There are all-in-one fruit fly traps you can buy and set out. These are nontoxic because they use technology to bait, trap and banish fruit flies from your home without using poison. They can be expensive, but they get the job done. There are also disposable fruit fly traps on the market that don’t use toxic chemicals. There are also sticky stake traps that you can put in your houseplants. They attract and trap fruit flies, mites, mosquitoes and other pests and can be used inside or outside.
A morbidly fun activity is zapping the airborne flies with a bug-zapper racket. A plus side of a bug racket is that it works on all types of insects, so you can use them for mosquitoes, house flies and the like as well as fruit flies.
Method 1: You can create an effective fruit fly trap with kitchen staples such as a glass, apple cider vinegar and dish soap.
- Fill a cup almost the whole way with apple cider vinegar. The fruit flies can smell the apples in the vinegar and will be attracted to it. Add a couple of drops of dish soap to your cup, and mix. The dish soap decreases surface tension so that fruit flies can’t escape.
- Cover the cup with clear plastic wrap.
- Poke little holes in the plastic wrap. Bugs can see in and fit through the holes but can’t readily escape.
- Leave the trap on the counter.
- If you notice it’s getting full of bugs, dump it and make a new trap.
Method 2: Another method involves putting a piece of over-ripe fruit in a cup with a funnel resting on the rim with the small end pointing down. The flies go in for the fruit but can’t always figure out how to get out again. Because fruit flies also love fermented beverages, you can try leaving a small cup of beer or wine on the counter in hopes that the flies will flock to it and drown.
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2021 plant trends
Whether neon, architectural or gothic black, the latest trends in houseplants are a direct result of the pandemic. Here's what to expect this year.
2021 plant trends
Rare plants and smaller terrarium species will continue to captivate plant fans, as they allow owners “to have the ‘look’ but keep things manageable sizewise,” said Leaf and Spine owner Dustin Bulaon.
“There’s a big trend for high-humidity plants, especially with the aid of the Ikea Milsbo cabinets that people are customizing to create mini greenhouse/terrariums. Expect hoyas to continue to be popular with collectors and the succulent stapeliads, which are prized for their unique flowers.”
Pink is alive and well, especially in high-maintenance plants that Annette Gutierrez, co-owner of Potted in L.A., likes to call “supermodel” plants (gorgeous but difficult): calatheas and Chinese evergreen “Pink Valentine.”
“Pink plants, in general, are huge right now,” she said.
Many experts predicted Costa Farms’ Raven ZZ plant would be the one of the year’s hottest houseplants. The slow grower has a striking, gothic look with bright green growth that matures to a rich, purple-black hue.
A spokesman for Costa Farms, which has the exclusive rights to produce and sell the plant, said the rare ZZ, a popular topic on Reddit, will be shipping to California stores that purchase its Trending Tropicals collection.
If gothic is not your thing, Costa Farms reports that Scindapsus treubii "Moonlight" is already a popular choice for 2021.
Neon is in
Neon plants will make a big splash in spring and throughout summer, according to Jaime Curtis of Greenwood Shop in Valley Village.
“Neon pothos, neon cordatum and Dracaena fragrans ‘Limelight’ as well as the more exotic plants like the philodendron ‘Prince of Orange’ or ‘Florida Ghost’ will be in high demand.”
Plants as therapy
As the pandemic continued and people stayed home, Americans turned to their plants for reassurance.
Gutierrez said that at times she feels like a therapist. “We had one woman come in yesterday who brought her plant in as if it were a child,” she said. “She was so distraught because the plant kept wilting and not thriving. We had a therapy session, and she left feeling like less of a failure and armed with a little more knowledge and support. I love seeing how people are connecting with each other regarding their plant problems and successes. Maybe that’s the trend: plants as emotional-support decor.”
It used to be that plants set the stage for offices. Now they set the stage for Zoom meetings, classes and video calls that can land you on Twitter accounts like Room Rater. Because our homes have become our offices, several stores, including Plants.com and the Sill, now offer plants specifically for the home office.
Because of the pandemic, several plant stores have been forced to host virtual classes and workshops in place of in-person events.
Felix Navarro of the Juicy Leaf hosts regular potting classes on Instagram. Bloomscape’s Rookie Plant Care class often has as many as 70 participants.
Workshops at the Sill, a garden center in Los Angeles, were extremely popular last year — the store even hosted an astrology night with plant pairings — and served as a “great way to stay connected to our customers,” according to Erin Marino, brand director at the Sill.
Thanks to the allure of growing your own food, edible plants will continue to grow in popularity as people continue to spend time at home, said Bloomscape plant expert Joyce Mast. Many herbs, including common culinary herbs such as basil and oregano, can be grown on a kitchen windowsill, as long as you have about four to six hours of sunlight. Some hybrids are designed to be grown indoors in your kitchen or on a sunny windowsill.
The weirder the better
A big way to make a statement is with plants, and according to Mickey Hargitay of Mickey Hargitay Plants, the weirder the better.
“People are now appreciating the unique exposed stems and the curves and bends that are created with age,” he said. “Lush and fresh off the truck is still in high demand, but more and more we are seeing customers looking for something with a little more architectural charm.”
Philodendron varieties, anthuriums and the black olive (Bucida buceras) also are popular right now.
“These are not an easy plant to care for, and they are pretty expensive, but people are still insisting on taking one home,” Hargitay said. “They have that sparse architectural look to them.”
Look for Ficus altissima and Ficus benghalensis to replace the popular but finicky Ficus lyrata, otherwise known as fiddle-leaf fig.
“I feel they’ve been so ubiquitous for the past 10 years that designers are starting to shy away from using them for fear their work will look dated,” said interior designer Orlando Soria.
Last year, Bloomscape’s top-selling plant was the mini money tree, which is purported to bring positive energy and good luck to the owner.
Look for other miniatures to trend this year, including string-of-pearls, happy bean and petite terrarium plants.
Plant propagation will be particularly big in the next year as many first-time plant owners perfect their horticultural skills.
“I think as people understand their environments better, they will get more into propagating the plants they have and sharing them with friends,” said Curtis. “When we are all vaccinated and can see each other again, I expect a ton of plant swaps and prop parties to happen and hope to host them here, as well!”