Photo by ShutterSparks
Flies buzzing around your head as you wash dishes, fruit flies in your line of vision every where you look, ants marching in a line down your kitchen counter – not exactly things that you want happening in your kitchen!
This past week we have had an infestation of fruit flies in our kitchen. I mean, we have had fruit flies before, but this is taking it to a whole new level! And earlier this spring we had a big problem with ants getting into our cupboards.
Now, while having insects in your kitchen is not ideal, it is true that it just kind of goes with the territory of spring and summer time, having lots of fresh fruits and veggies, and trying to keep your home as natural and non-toxic as possible.
But, just because you don’t want to use toxic substances to control those pesky insects, doesn’t mean that you should just sit back and let them take over! There are lots of natural ways of dealing with insects in your kitchen and around your home.
Yes, fruit flies are pretty much inevitable when you have fresh fruit in your kitchen, but there are some things that you can do to help keep them at bay.
- Keep fruit that still needs to ripen in folded up paper bags. When I have peaches or tomatoes that are a little under-ripe and need to sit on the counter for a few days I put them in paper bags and roll the top down. This helps to keep them protected from the fruit flies and seems to help with the amount of fruit flies as well.
- Keep your counters clear and put fruit in the fridge. This might seem like an obvious one, but if you leave dishes with pieces of fruit, or fruit juice, out on the counter, it’s going to attract fruit flies. If you have fruit that is already ripe sitting out, it’s going to attract fruit flies, and putting your fruit in the fridge will also help keep your fruit fresh for longer.
- Suck them up! My mom gave me the idea of using the back end of a hair dryer to suck up the fruit flies when you have a really bad infestation of them. I tried this one day, but I don’t know if my hair dryer doesn’t have enough power, or what, but it didn’t seem to work that well for me. And I wondered, where do they go? The next time I blow dry my hair are little dead fruit flies going to blow out at me?? So, I tried the vacuum and it really did seem to help. My hubs thought I looked hilarious trying to suck the fruit flies out of the air with the vacuum hose, but it worked. I’m sure you could try either the vacuum or the hair dryer and see what works best for you.
- Apple Cider Vinegar and Dish Soap. This is a great “trap” for fruit flies. Put a little bit of ACV in a jar or cup, I use a baby food jar, and then add a drop or two of dish soap. The ACV attracts the fruit flies and the dish soap kills them off. You will need to change your ACV and dishsoap mixture about twice a day because it loses it’s effectiveness after a while. I usually rinse my jars and refill them in the morning and again before bed. I have at least one, if not two of these jars sitting on my counter pretty much all the time in the summer. If you don’t want a jar full of dead fruit flies sitting on your counter all the time, you can just do this over night. Combined with keeping your counter clear, it’s really effective at getting rid of fruit flies.
- Again, keep your counters and sink clean. My mom told me that the fist line of defensive against ants is having a clean kitchen. Thanks mom, are you saying my kitchen is dirty? Okay, don’t answer that. 🙂 Anyway, keep dishes cleaned up, crumbs wiped up, and don’t soak dishes or leave standing water in the sink, especially overnight.
- Vinegar and Water. You can kill ants quickly and easily by spraying them with a solution of vinegar and water. Spray any that you can see and wipe up with a cloth. I have read that the vinegar also helps to repel ants, so I sprayed the cupboards, counter tops and backsplash where the ants seems to be most prevalent.
- Cut off their entry point. If you can figure out where the ants are coming from and close of their entry point, that is a great way to deter them. We figured out that our ants were coming through a crack in our window frame, so my great hubby caulked all around the window, and we had much less of a problems with ants after that.
- .Keep sweet pantry items in air-tight containers. Things like honey and sugar attract the little sugar ants that we were having problems with, so I started putting our honey jar in a plastic bag. See if you can figure out what is attracting the ants and either store it in a plastic bag or other air-tight container, or put it in the fridge.
- Use cinnamon, pepper, or chili powder. If you figured out that the ants are entering somewhere that you can sprinkle a line of one of these spices, the ants will not cross that line. I’ve also read that you can sprinkle cinnamon around the outside of your house along the foundation and that will deter ants. I bought cinnamon in a big bulk container and sprinkled it all around our house. Not sure how much of an effect it really had, but combined with all of the other ideas, it’s one more line of defensive against ants invading your home.
- Make your own ant trap. Use an old plastic container with a lid and poke about 4 or 5 holes around the side of it. Mix up a solution of 1/4 c. sugar, 1/2 t. Borax and 1 c. water, and soak 2-3 cotton balls in it and then place them into the container and put the lid on. Place the trap wherever you are having trouble with ants, or if you have an idea of where they are coming from outside. I made 3 of these traps and put 2 outside and one on my kitchen counter by the cupboard the ants liked to get into. The ants will eat the cotton balls and take it back to their nest and it will kill off the ants. You may need to replace the cotton balls after a few days. Be sure to keep this trap up and away from children and animals, although it’s such a small amount, it probably wouldn’t hurt them, you wouldn’t want them getting into it because of the Borax.
So, those are the safe and natural ways I have dealt with pesky insects in and around our kitchen. Now, if only I could figure out a way to deal with the flies besides my trusty fly swatter!
Eartheasy’s guide to natural insect pest control
Kitchen Stewardship – How to Naturally Get Rid of Ants in Your House