There is a lot of research done into the things we eat and almost all of it points to fruits improving one’s moods, reducing your risks of certain health conditions and providing you with essential nutrients. Fruits such as bananas, apples, oranges and more are known to contain potassium, magnesium, calcium, dietary fiber and more.
Another thing that fruits are known for is fruit flies. Fruit flies move into kitchens, bathrooms, and basements if they sense a source of food and can be very disturbing. Unfortunately, they follow you to a composting bin and infest the same. However, there might be incredibly unique ways of getting rid of fruit flies in your compost and this article has it all.
Are Fruit Flies Harmful to The Compost Pile?
Fruit flies are generally considered harmless even to your compost pile. The tiny little critters do not have teeth and do not bite. They are only a nuisance although cannot harm your composting pile. The flies only pop out of nowhere, and multiply like crazy, although they will be dead in a matter of days, although thousands more will be hatched.
They are attracted to the alcohol produced by fermenting foods like fruits, and they like to lay their eggs in moist areas. As you can imagine, a compost pile has a lot of ideal components to attract them, explaining why you will have to find the flies around your composting bin.
Luckily, there are no major issues that can be attributed to the fruit flies if something goes wrong with your compost. However, since they like to lay their eggs in the skin of soft fruits and vegetables, having too many of them in your compost could lead to problems in your garden.
They also like to lay their eggs around the same area they are eating, in this case, the composting bin, as a way of guaranteeing their young ones have something to eat. These eggs hatch into larva, or maggots, in a few days, compounding the “ick factor” connected to flies.
10+ Amazing Ways to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in The Compost
1. Put a lid on the composting bin
It is the most obvious way of keeping the bugs from entering your composting bin. You may be tempted to leave it open as you are prepping dinner and throwing food scraps in but play it safe and open and close it each time you have more scraps.
Ensure your composting bin has a good and secure lid. This, not only prevents the fruit flies from entering but also ensures your kitchen is not overwhelmed by foul odors in between trips to the backyard to empty the bin.
2. Trap them
The best way to keep fruit flies from your compost pile is to give them something more attractive to go after. This way, you will be able to trap them using a homemade trap or one bought online.
To make a homemade trap, put a few drops of dish soap in a container of apple cider vinegar, then cover the container with plastic wrap with some holes punched into it. The fruit flies will crawl through the tiny holes to get to the apple cider vinegar, then get stuck there in the liquid.
The traps bought online, work similarly to the homemade method. However, they are coated with a sticky substance, rather than a bowl of liquid. It is a quick and easy alternative to making a trap, although either method is effective.
3. Bury your greens well
Compost flies will only live in your compost if the temperature is right and if they have a ready supply of food. Their food is mainly the greens in the composting bin, which includes food, fruit and vegetable scraps.
Therefore, bury these nitrogen-rich materials with brown ingredients topped with a layer of soil. The composting process will continue since there is a healthy ratio of nitrogen- and carbon-rich materials. If the manure and rotting vegetables are not on the top of the soil used to bury the composting ingredients, the flies will not have anything to feast on and will leave.
4. Aerate your compost properly
You can also choose to turn the composting pile regularly in a bid to defeat the composting flies. Doing this increases the oxygen levels in the middle of the heap, encouraging organisms that decay the pile and also heating up the interior in the process.
Keeping the pile level instead of letting it pile up in the middle will prevent cooler edges and a warmer center. A warmer center, especially if the greens are buried there, will keep the flies away, and will also allow for quick compost. When the composting process is done quickly, the flies will not have a place to stay.
5. Add more browns
Adding more browns may affect the healthy ratio required, but it will also help change the environment for the flies. Introducing enough cardboard inside the bin to regulate humidity and at the same time bring carbon to the mix, also ensures the humidity levels inside the bin are lowered.
Flies favor an environment with high humidity levels and adding more cardboard kills this. They also prefer an environment with high nitrate content, which can be remedied by adding crushed eggshells. Poultry eggshells are mostly made of calcium carbonate which dissolves in the acidic environment of the composting bin.
This neutralizes the composting bin and the flies will have to leave. However, the most effective thing to do is to bury the vegetable scraps under lots of carbon-rich materials so as not to attract the flies in the first place.
6. Do not use boiling water
Well, some might be tempted to boil water and pour it on the composting pile. Well, this might take care of the fruit flies problem, but will inadvertently bring about another problem. The boiling water will kill the flies and their eggs, but will also kill off the beneficial bugs required inside the composting bin for the process to go on well.
If you kill off these bugs, your entire composting process will stall and you will not have your compost. Therefore, no matter what, do not be tempted to use hot water on the bugs.
Only use hot boiling water if all other measures are not working and if you have a lid that will prevent the water from getting in and causing harm. Cover the lid and splash the hot water on top and the sides of the composting bin. This creates a hot atmosphere where the flies cannot tolerate.
7. Freeze your compost
Well, this sounds weird, but wait for it! you can avoid the fruit flies in your compost by simply purchasing a bin that can be used in your freezer rather than being left on the kitchen counter. Spare some space in your freezer for the bin and have your contents inside the freezer, a process that keeps the flies away.
When you are ready, you can transfer the contents to your composting bin outside at your leisure. You can even boil the foodstuffs before adding them to your compost, as this makes it less attractive to fruit flies.
Well, the point is to make the kitchen scraps less accessible or appealing to the fruit flies and either method can work.
8. Use a banana peel trap
Fruit flies love, well, fruits. You can take advantage of their love for bananas and banana peels to make a trap. The Massachusetts Environment Protection Department recommends you place a banana peel in a clear plastic container first.
Then, make three of four holes in the container with a toothpick or a pin, and then place the container near your fruit bowl or compost bin. Within 24 hours, the majority of the flies will be in the container. What you do with them after this is entirely up to you. There are also fruit fly traps available on online stores such as Amazon
9. Wrap your scraps up
You can also choose to wrap your kitchen scraps in newspaper before throwing them in the compost bucket. It is a simple way of keeping the flies out as well as contributing to the composting process. When the food starts to break down while still wrapped, the newspaper will help contain them and deter the scents that attract the fruit flies.
Additionally, the newspaper, being part of the brown materials, will break down and contribute to your compost. Everything will break down safely and naturally in your composting pile.
10. Consider a hot compost
A hot compost pile will prevent the larval stage of fruit flies from surviving in all but the outer or cooler areas of the pile. The optimal temperature for microbial activity in a hot compost is 130°F to 140°F (54.444°C – 60°C). at that temperature, the microbes break down organic matter and reproduce at high rates.
The hot temperature not only kills fruit flies but also kills most weeds and harmful bacterial in the pile. If you maintain hot compost, you will have ready compost in about three weeks, although the duration depends on other environmental conditions. That entire time, fruit flies will stay away from the composting pile as they cannot stand the heated temperatures.
11. Consider the source
It could be that the container you are using to compost is the source of your flies’ problem, and therefore, consider cleaning it first. Some argue against closing the lid, unlike our first recommendation above.
However, you need to adjust your setup to determine which method works best for you, lid or no lid. Some people prefer the lid because it is effective in keeping the flies away.
However, if they are trapped inside, and with a darker environment, they will flourish, meaning going lidless will stop the infestation. Go lidless only if you will be able to control the problem of other pests like rats and raccoons who may critter their way into the exposed pile.
12. Choose what to compost
This sounds a bit orthodox but hear me out. You can decide not to compost anything that can attract fruit flies to the composting bin. This means you only compost freshly cut grass, leaves and flowers, along with carbon-rich materials and do not include any food, fruit or kitchen scraps in the bin.
It is a tough decision to take but you will be denying the flies any source of food in the composting bin in the first place. Meanwhile, you can compost these other materials elsewhere.
For instance, you can opt to bury the fruit and vegetable scraps in the soil and let them decompose there. Burying your materials 10 to 12 inches deep deters fruit flies as the smell that attracts them has been removed.
You can then transfer the decomposed fruit scraps into the composting bin after some weeks when they are decomposed and cannot attract the flies, use them alone as mulch.