MOUNT VERNON — The season is ripe for fresh fruit and vegetables but no one likes dealing with pesky fruit flies that seem to pop out of nowhere when there is anything sweet out in the open.
“They’re not really considered a health hazard, but more of a nuisance,” said Jim Fridrich, registered sanitarian for the Knox County Health Department. “They’re attracted to ripening fruit because of the gases and smells given off by the fruit. From one stand- point, if you left fruit out long enough, they could lay their eggs and have them hatch and can develop really quickly.”
Refrigeration is an effective way to prevent fruit flies from getting into fresh fruits.
“Most of our fruits can be placed in the refrigerator and this will help slow the ripening process so that the fruit can last long enough to be eaten later,” he said. “If you leave fruit out on the table, you can cover it so that [fruit flies] won’t be attracted to the smells from the fruit, and then you can just uncover it when you eat it.”
Though most fruits can be refrigerated, Fridrich advised against placing bananas in the cooler.
“They tend to turn black when they are in the refrigerator,” he said.
The biggest problem with fruit flies is the annoyance but there are household insecticides on the market that can get rid of fruit flies, “but you really wouldn’t want to use [the spray] in the house,” said Fridrich.
“What you can do is not leave fruit just laying out or have scraps in a garbage bin. Because they are being attracted to the fruit, if you cover the fruit up or get rid of the trash, they will tend to disappear very quickly with no food source,” he said.
The same can be said for garbage disposals or fruit juice spills, anything sweet and sticky can attract fruit flies and should be clean or washed out.
“That’s one of the reasons why regular garbage pickup was evolved. Generally under most temperature situations, by the time the flies lay their eggs and the maggots first tend to appear, your trash is getting picked up. The whole weekly garbage pick-up goes back to making sure you didn’t create your next generation of flies. They have a very short period of time, fruit flies in particular,” said Fridrich.
When it comes to prevention of fruit flies some local restaurants have their own methods.
Paul Neighbarger, general manager at R&M Southside Diner said, “We do several different things. One, we put fruit in the cooler so that it’s not sitting out. Also any kind of wet towels, because they are drawn to wet, damp areas, we usually wash them immediately, and if there is any water sitting around on the floor we mop it up.”