This week’s random pest question comes from Twitter:
If I had suspected my friend had fruit flies, I would have suggested the following. (I didn’t)
Fruit Flies in the House
Generally, when you find small, flying bugs in your home, there are three suspects. The most common pest was the one suggested in the tweet, the common fruit fly. This small, delicate-bodied insect usually hitches a ride home on some produce and reproduce like crazy.
To make sure you are dealing with fruit flies, look for reddish eyes, transparent wings, and light colored bodies. To trap the adults you can set out a bowl of cider vinegar, with a squirt of dish soap, covered with plastic wrap with a few holes poked in it.
More important than the trap itself though, is a thorough kitchen cleaning. The fruit flies are attracted to anything sticky and sweet. Check the little gap behind your sink, anywhere you store fruit, behind your trashcan, under your fridge. ANYWHERE a child has been or could have been. Clean these areas thoroughly and they will get under control quickly.
They can spread germs, but they are usually not more than a major annoyance.
What I actually expected my friend to be dealing with was:
Fungus Gnats in the House
How do you know if you have fungus gnats? These pesky little bugs have thin legs and a long body. They don’t have the reddish eyes of the fruit flies. These annoying little bugs feed on—wait for it—the fungus that grows in potting soil.
How do you get rid of fungus gnats? You let your potting soil dry out between watering so the fungus cannot grow in the top 2 – 3 inches where the gnats like to hang out. You can also order some handy plant stakes which attract the fungus gnats, and they get stuck. This is often simpler than trying to walk the tightrope of watering a plant enough to keep it happy and not so much that you create the environment that the fungus gnats prefer.
Sewer Gnats or Drain Flies
Sewer gnats are fairly easy to tell apart from both fruit flies and fungus gnats. While all three insects are about the same size, these little guys have dark wings unlike their light-winged counterparts.
Like fungus gnats and fruit flies, drain flies don’t bite. They can spread germs as they travel from surface to surface. Drain flies tend to reproduce in the slime that can develop in the sludge that accumulates in drains often used. Typically unused guest bathrooms or floor drains in basements.
Your first inclination might be to reach for a jug of Draino or to pour boiling water down the drain, but neither of these is actually the best option. Why? Neither will remove the sludge quite as well as a good old fashioned scrubbing. Use a tool like a plumbers snake to really clean out that mess, and you’ll be drain fly free in no time.
When you’ve got little flying pests bugging you, usually it’ll be one of these three. Follow the advice above and you’ll be just fine.
Send your questions to email@example.com.