Last Updated:
April 30, 2024

How to eliminate fruit flies at a bar or restaurant: Advice from the pros

Learn how to eliminate fruit flies at your bar or restaurant with these tips. Keep your establishment clean and pest-free dining experience for your customers.
How to eliminate fruit flies at a bar or restaurant: Advice from the pros
Bogdan Patynski
A preview of the downloadble item
Free resource

The Ultimate Restaurant Inventory Guide™

Are you a restaurant or bar owner that needs to get inventory under control? With our Ultimate Restaurant Inventory Method™, you can start laying the foundations to take inventory 2x faster.

Download free now!
DISCLAIMER: Please note that this information is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal, accounting, tax, HR, or other professional advice. You're responsible to comply with all applicable laws in your state. Contact your attorney or other relevant advisor for advice specific to your circumstances.
Table of Contents

Fruit flies are a pest that many bar and restaurant owners try to get rid of in every way possible. They come into the establishment, contaminate food, and make it tough for people to enjoy themselves.

These tiny flies are a serious problem in commercial kitchens, and only about 20% of the problem is because they are attracted to food and grime located inside sink and floor drains.

Luckily, there are some simple ways you can eliminate those pesky flying bugs from your business and make your restaurant a no fly zone!

How can I tell if I have fruit flies or other bugs (gnats)?

Although both fruit flies and gnats appear to come on suddenly, they do so through different pathways. Fruit flies arrive in your home as eggs on the surface of fruits and veggies, whereas gnats tend to enter via the soil of potted plants as fungus gnat larvae.

The following are a few other significant distinctions.

Fruit Fly vs Gnat

Gnats prefer to hang out in groups, while fruit flies only gather together when many food sources are accessible such as rotten fruit or spilled liquids near drains..

Fruit flies are tiny, about the size of a house fly, and have bright red eyes. They come in a wide range of colors, including tan to black.

Fungus gnats are dark gray or black and have dangling legs and bodies that resemble a tiny mosquito and are difficult to see.

How long do fruit flies live?

Fruit flies have a short life cycle that can be completed in seven to ten days. Females lay eggs near rotting fruit or other moist areas where larvae, known as maggots, will develop by feeding on the decomposing substance.

Larvae mature into adult flies within about two weeks and then mate before dying soon after their first flight.

The entire life cycle takes around two weeks, but the rate of reproduction is so high that it only takes a couple of months for an infestation to get out of hand.

Will fruit flies go away on their own?

Unfortunately, fruit fly infestations tend to get worse rather than better. That's because adult flies will continue laying eggs and the population of maggots will grow exponentially if food remains plentiful.

What causes fruit flies in your restaurant or bar?

Fruit flies are attracted to fruit and vegetable peels, spills from beverages such as beer or soda, garbage bins, dirty bathrooms with standing water in floor drains and stagnant ponds.

If you have spouts on your liquor bottles, make sure to close them overnight.

Make sure to empty an open green bar every night if you have one.

Cleaning a cafe

How do you prevent fruit flies at your bar or restaurant?

Fly control for restaurants - prevention is always your best defense against an invasion of these little pests—but it isn't easy! The key is vigilance in removing any rotting food from your kitchen and stock room as soon as possible after they ripen.

Remove excess liquids (or fruits that have fallen behind coolers) as soon as possible each day when rotating stock.

Cover your bottles – make sure all pour spouts on liquor bottles remain closed overnight.

Frequently hand wash your bar mats. As you might guess, the surfaces on which you stand get rather filthy. And fly larvae may grow in the cracks of the mats after attracting organic debris there. Hand washing them with warm, soapy water and a hose at least once a week is recommended to avoid feeding insects.

bar counter

Another way to keep them out of your kitchen is by cleaning up spills quickly and keeping all drain areas dry with a dehumidifier or fan that points down into drains instead of upwards into countertops where drinks are placed.

Keep an eye on spills under soda fountains where drinks could drip down into drain areas below counters leading back into floor drains.

bar kitchen

The dangers of salmonella and listeria contamination.

A fruit fly can transfer a number of different bacteria, including salmonella and listeria to the surfaces they land on or your food itself. If you have any open drinks above where female fruit flies lay eggs, those drinks will be contaminated as well! In fact, one study showed that fruit flies were able to transmit pathogens from dirty bathrooms with standing water into clean glasses in kitchens.

How long does it take to get rid of fruit flies?

In the short term, you may notice these tiny flying insects hanging around for a week or so after they first arrive. But if rotting produce sources are abundant and sanitation is low, it could be months before the infestation goes away completely.

Bar counter

What can you use to eliminate fruit flies?

You may use sticky fly traps, but they won't always capture the flies and might be quite costly in the end.

For effective commercial fruit fly control, we suggest utilizing a fruit fly trap that has obtained approval from your local health department. These specialized traps are designed to attract fruit flies by employing enticing baits. They capture the pesky flying insects by utilizing organic materials like sponge or cotton balls soaked in apple cider vinegar, sugar water, or yeast solution. By incorporating these approved fruit fly traps, you can successfully manage and control fruit fly populations.

Alternatively, you may hire an exterminator to get rid of fruit flies at your restaurant, or you might call for assistance from a reputable pest control business if your establishment has infestations in multiple locations.

How to get rid of fruit flies using a DIY fruit fly trap with apple cider vinegar

We recommend placing a couple of cups with 1/4 to 1/2 full apple cider vinegar and a few drops of dish soap on top, then covering the cup with plastic wrap and piercing holes in the cling-wrap; they'll go right to it.

Getting rid of those common pests in sink drains and garbage disposals

Use diatomaceous earth powder or boric acid powder (Borax) to eliminate fruit fly larvae trapped in drain pipes.

To dehydrate the larvae or kill drain flies, sprinkle these components down your sink drains or floor drains. This also works for floor drains and sink drains.

How to get rid of fruit flies if I can't find the source?

Finding fruit fly eggs can be tricky but here's a tips on find places where you can look for them.

Start with the smelliest places. Such as trash cans in the kitchen, the bins in your bar prep area, or any waste disposal that might have liquids.

Look at places where clients might forget their takeout on the way out.

If you can't locate the source of fruit flies, make a DIY trap as mentioned previously — place an apple cider vinegar cup, dish soap, and plastic wrap on top to concentrate the odour —  and place those traps near areas that are likely to stink.

When it comes to commercial kitchen fly control and effective fruit fly elimination, a simple yet effective solution can be found right in your kitchen using a vintage Good Housekeeping recipe involving soap. These helpful tips serve as a starting point for tackling those persistent pests and preventing flies from infiltrating your establishment by creating homemade traps. However, for more extensive infestations across multiple areas, it is advisable to consider engaging the services of a professional exterminator experienced in commercial fruit fly elimination. Their expertise and targeted approach can help ensure a thorough and efficient resolution to your fly control challenges in a commercial kitchen setting.

Proactive fruit fly management is both a necessity and an opportunity for your business. By prioritizing these strategies, you'll see your ROI flourish, demonstrating significant savings and increased profitability.


Download the


cost control playbook

Don't settle for razor thin margins.

Managing your restaurant should be easy.