How to prevent fruit flies?

ange2006September 15, 2013

Is there a way to prevent fruit flies and other bugs from invading my worm bin?

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The only bugs that have given me trouble are fruit flies (a continuous issue) and mites. The mites have been a problem a couple of times, but I think it's an issue of too much moisture.

The fruit flies, on the other hand, I've never been able to eradicate. No idea how they get in. I feed weekly, but if either bin has flies in it, I don't feed, and hope they go away.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 2:57PM
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Are mites really an issue? Aren't they just expected to be present in a healthy bin?

    Bookmark   September 15, 2013 at 3:23PM
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My suggestion on fruit flies is to keep a layer of shredded paper on top, and add food under it. The paper layer may need to be thick (several inches or as many as six).

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 12:28AM
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The mites were a problem when their numbers bloomed and they literally (literally!) covered the food. Otherwise, I imagine there are some in the bin (along with pot worms, sow bugs, and others), but their numbers aren't out of control.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 9:17AM
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Mites help break down solid food to worm bite-sizes. So unless there is a mite over-population, they are acceptable in worm bins.
Fruit flies on the other hand, I've never seen the form before they became fruit flies.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 9:10PM
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armoured: Would you reuse the newspaper or would you use new ones each time you add food?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 1:25AM
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You don't really prevent fruit flies. You might control them to some extent. A no-pest strip works wonders. There is also a bug spray (I forget the brand) that is supposed to be food safe. I wouldn't use either of these methods anywhere near a kitchen or dining room.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 11:44AM
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ange: don't 'reuse', put a layer of shredded paper, then put food under the layer at feeding. Worms will eventually eat the lower layer of the shredded paper (as it gets wet from absorbing moisture in bin). Add whenever the layer is too thin. This probably won't stop fruit flies entirely but basically will keep them under control. it really can't be too much paper.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 3:19PM
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Armoured: I covered the food with paper this morning. I'll check if it's any better tomorrow. Maybe I'll try no-pest strips too. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2013 at 9:29PM
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You might want to place a fruit fly trap nearby..

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 12:54AM
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Fruit flies have a life cycle you may want to read about in order to get hints to break the cycle.

Putting food, even frozen food into a bin with even one fruit fly left alive in it starts the life cycle clock all over.

I noticed a spider in my Worm Inn. I'm thinking he is working for me.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 2:05AM
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I should import some spiders into the bin.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2013 at 9:56PM
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My worm bin supplier gave me a bug zapper shaped like a tennis racquet for fruit flies --it does get some of them.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2013 at 3:51PM
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I've never had a problem with fruit flies, and my lads get watermelon, banana peels, citrus, along with broccoli, veggie peels, potato peels or rotting potatoes, etc etc.

I *always* chop and freeze my food. All of it. I firmly believe this eradicates any potential fruit fly problem.

Covering the food with several inches of shredded paper also works. Flies don't want to work for their food.

Mites have always been a problem for me. I don't have a lot.....certainly not enough to burn them with a torch, as I've seen it recommended, but I see them on some food items. If they don't stress the worms, I try not to worry, but I'd rather not have them. My bin isn't overly wet, either, which is why I always wonder why I have them.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 12:07PM
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Hey jasdip, where have you been? Hope all is well.
I have always wonder how mites get into my bins. I don't use manure. Mites don't fly, so they must have come with the worms.
On the other hand, a bin with no mites will take forever to process.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 5:36PM
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Hi Otis!!!! Good to see you too!! I know, I've been absentia for a while. I actually re-homed my 4 bins a couple of years ago, as we moved to a smaller apartment.

I started up again last Dec, by getting a few worms from Freecycle, kept them in a small salad container and watched what I fed them. They've thrived and are now in a regular worm bin, and I'm happily vermiing again.I missed the lads like crazy and of course hated throwing anything out.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2013 at 6:43PM
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Hi everyone. Just dropping in after reading the title.

My bin is a 35 gallon rubbermaid tub. Hubs cut 4x4 holes on either end and bolted hardware cloth over these for aeration. No other holes and it works fine. He placed a spigot on one end.

Over that hardware cloth I fashioned landscape cloth. I've had fruit fly infestations but not from my worm bin.

I dry feed. I puree their favorite foods either from fresh or out of freezer storage in a blender.

I add:

1) A small amount of unsulfured black strap molasses to encourage good microbial growth.

2) powdered oatmeal and/or rabbit pellets (alfalfa) for nutrition and even powdered egg shells. (coffee blender)

3) I cap the blender tightly and let sit on the counter for 2 or 3 days (depending on the temp) until it is well rotted. Never stinks because of the molasses.

The well-rotted and microbial sludge hits the bin ready to be absorbed by the worms under freshly stripped newspaper or egg carton.

It's gone within a day if a small amount or 2 days if a greater amount. Flies don't have time.

Mites are normal for a worm bin. Reducing the moisture (and feed) helps keep the numbers down. Recently, I've had pill bugs. They are OK as long as they don't get too large in numbers. Isopods are good for aerating soils and removing metallic toxins.

Again, regulating moisture is key. Always keep a small second bin in case of massive die-off or host-assisted massacres. The 2nd bin can be utilized to spawn new worms by removing mature worms into them.

Good luck wormy friends!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2013 at 4:15AM
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I use a Rubbermaid container. When I had problems with fruit flies I made a cover with material used for bug jackets. I sewed elastic around it so it fit over top snugly. Any fruit flies were trapped in the box, so not a problem.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 2:19PM
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If you are a fruit fly mom and recently saw female parasite wasps nearby.

"Insects have been found to be prolific self-medicators, too. Take the arresting case of the fruit fly Drosophilia melanogaster, which uses alcohol to protect itself against parasitic wasps. The wasps lay their eggs in the fruit fly larvae; the developing wasp grubs will eventually eat the flies from the inside out and burst forth from their dead bodies.

Larvae that consume high doses of alcohol from fermented fruits, however, are less likely to be infected��"and if they are, the invading wasp grubs die quite nastily with their internal organs being ejected out of their anus. Moreover, fruit fly mothers who see female parasite wasps nearby will give their young instant protection by laying their eggs in alcohol-soaked environments��"which means they see and remember their nemesis.

âÂÂNot a bad defense,â says Hunter, adding that this demonstrates the idea that âÂÂthe cost weâÂÂre willing to pay for a medicine depends on the consequences of not using it.â While the alcohol isnâÂÂt necessarily good for the flies (though some species of Drosophilia melanogaster show a resistance to its ill effects), the flies will die if parasitized.

âÂÂThe alcohol has worse effects on the parasites than it does on them. So itâÂÂs worth laying your eggs in a high-alcohol environment if it will save your offspring,â he says."

Perhaps keeping the greens or grains not producing alcohol might keep down fruit fly populations.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 1:49AM
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