How to Get Rid of Drain or Fruit Flies
This is an introduction to a series about 5 common types of drains flies. I will be adding more information on each one over the next month. First never assume that your problem started indoors. Proper identification is necessary in some situations. To identify them you will need to catch one on a piece of tape or any other method that does not destroy what you are going to ID. A magnifying glass and flashlight will help you to get a closer look to make a positive ID.
Some of the flies like to breed on fresh moist decaying matter (fruit, vegetables, moist soil) like fruit and others types may prefer more advanced stages of decay(sewage, dead animals, rotten vegetation). In most cases flying and mating occur more in the evening hours. Under optimum conditions, population growth is explosive.
The only effective method to eliminate them is by removing or treating their breeding sites. This normally takes 5-7 nights of continuous treatments. Trying bleach, hot water, or ammonia is ineffective because the majority of the larva will still survive. Four of the five drains flies generally (unless you have a break in your sewer line or pipe leaking under the house for examples) do not start from your drains, so early detection of them and removal of their breeding sites may be done immediately to prevent an infestation.
As far as trying to reduce the number of fliers a good fogger or spray with the active ingredient pyrethrin is a great knock down and regarded a generally safe product. As far as attractants, each may be attracted to different things, like one is vinegar, another the color yellow and yet another maybe attracted to light
The red and dark-eyed fruit flies, moth fly, fungus gnat, and Phorid (humpback or coffin) fly are the 5 most common types of small filth breeding drain flies. Controlling any of these pests is best handled by proper sanitation, removing the breeding sites, and exclusion.
The life cycle of the four types of small filth breeding flies range anywhere from 5 to 25 days. Generally, if you have had them in your establishment 5 days or more indicates that they have already found a breeding site. In order to eliminate them we remove or treat their moist/wet organic matter breeding sites.
Identification: The fruit and Phorid flies are generally yellowish brown. The fruit fly will have distinctive red eyes and the Phorid fly will have a humped back like a mosquito. The Drain moth actually looks like a small moth with the wings roof like over the body, not folded back and dark gray to black in color. The fungus gnat’s wings are folded back over body and are dark gray to black in color.
In prevention of drain flies it is essential to remove breeding sites immediately to prevent infestation when you first see a couple of any of them. By covering your drains and keeping them covered so they can’t reach this breeding site and removal of other breeding sites listed below for anywhere from a couple of days to a week will help to ensure that they can’t reproduce in your drains and die off by breaking the life cycle before you get an infestation.
Types of breeding sites could be plants that you water (removal of top layer of dirt or treat the soil with an IGR or an adulticide), take out the trash, washing the dishes, removal of wet/damp mops or clothes, moisture behind baseboards, cracks and crevices, garbage disposals, dishwasher drains, ripened fruit or vegetables, refrigeration or a/c drain lines, under or around baseboards and legs and feet of equipment, water leaks in walls (example: caulk around bathtubs). They could from becoming from outside; garbage cans, dumpsters, or maybe a compost pile, piles of debris.
Generally they will start up in either the kitchen or bathroom. A good indication that you have an infestation is when they appear in both rooms and have been around for a 5 days or more. This means that they have already established breeding grounds in your drains. Treating your drains with detergents, bleach, ammonia, hot water, is normally ineffective. Most of the larva can survive these treatments. A biodegradable drain gel can be used in drains and sprayed in certain problem areas and/or IGR (Insect Growth Regulator) is best for treatment in these areas. Normal process is to treat these areas for 5-7 nights in a row before bedtime while eliminating the other breeding sites (listed above) at the same time to break their life cycle.
What do we do about the ones flying around? The fruit fly also called vinegar fly is attracted to apple cider or balsamic vinegar, fruits, vegetables, and wine. Phorid flies and fungus gnats are attracted to practically anything fermenting. The drain moths like to hover over and around the drains and are attracted to light.
Sanitation and exclusion is your best prevention. Proper identification of what you are dealing with and using the right products in the right areas at the right time is your cure. To get rid of or prevention of drain flies/fruit flies early detection and eliminating breeding sites with preventative measures will help to prevent infestations. Once infested, elimination thru identification with a proper 5-7 day treatment plan by eliminating breeding sites plan is your cure.
•Red-Eyed fruit fly- Light brown with bright red eyes. They are active fliers and generally start with fruits or vegetables and are attracted to apple cider or balsamic vinegar.
•Dark-eyed fruit fly- Dark colored with dark eyes. They are active fliers and generally start with fruits and vegetables and are attracted to beer, wine, and breads, and moist cat food. More advanced stages of decomposition are preferred than the red-eyed fruit fly.
•Phorid fly- Light brown and humped back no cross veins on their wings and tend to run before they take flight. Prefer advanced stages of decay and could start from outside. A fly sex attractant on a glue stick works well to catch them. •Dark- Winged Fungus gnat- Tan to dark colored, dark eyes, dark wigs, and mosquito like in appearance. They are active fliers. They generally start with plants and are attracted to the color yellow. •Moth (Drain) Fly- Brown to black, hairy wings and bodies, roof like wings (not laid back) and are poor fliers. These generally indicate poor drainage or a sewer line break. They leave a leave a powdery residue when squashed. They are attracted to light.
As you can see not all drains flies are treated the same. One thing they all have in common is that in order to eliminate an infestation the key is to remove or treat All of their breeding sites. This process is usually done at night before bedtime or at closing of businesses and on average takes 5-7 nights to break their life cycle. If the problems still persists after one week then this probably means that all of the breeding sites where not found, improper, incorrect chemical use or the treatment process was not consistent at all breeding sites.
Sanitation and exclusion is your best prevention. Proper identification of what you are dealing with and using the right products in the right areas at the right time is your cure.