SimplySailingOnline.com shows by example how easily you can eliminate stress, become more independent, raise your children in a safer environment (while spending more time with them, instilling values not based on the mighty dollar) and avoid the traps of commercialism. Because we live and sail simply, we have been wandering for 11 years with no intention of stopping. This is not a trip for us; it is our life, and I hope to share our success with stories of laughter and tears, as well as how-to tips and DIY projects for preparing, sailing and making a boat a home, so that others can join us.

Fruit Fly Trap

July 21, 2014

We've all done it. You go to the store after a long passage, or a long trudge up the ICW without having an opportunity to launch the dinghy, or just a long work week with no chance to go to the grocery store. Craving fresh fruits and veggies, you load up your cart with every snack you have done without. Bananas, peaches, apples, oranges, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, you buy a little of each. You take it all home, overindulge the first day, and then quickly realize that you can never eat all of that produce before it goes bad. Or worse, the fruit flies find it.

It doesn't take long for these tiny pests to find fruit. The smell of fermenting fruit drifts in the breeze from your hatch to their attuned senses and suddenly they are eating more fruit than you are. Even before we realize that the fruit is starting to turn, the fruit files are feasting on it. Attracting them is easy. Evicting them is much harder.


Nearly free fruit fly trap

The most drastic way of eliminating fruit flies is to remove all fruit from your boat. But then you are left in the same state you were before: produce-less and craving fresh foods. Without having to eat (or throw away) all the produce you just worked so hard to get to the store to buy, there is another way to rid your galley of these flying pests.

I have seen a dozen plans for "traps" for catching fruit flies. I have tried about half of them, all with the same result. A few hapless critters drown in whatever concoction we have left out for them. But then, even the blind squirrel gets a nut now and then. Finally, last week, it was too much. You couldn't go into our galley without risking inhaling a fruit fly. The timing was perfect, therefore, when I came across yet another fruit fly trap. This one combined several components of some of the other traps I'd tried before, but with a twist that I hoped would make all the difference.

Start with a small jar (you know, those jelly jars, pickle jars, and other treasures you keep around just in case). If you managed to salvage the lid when you kept the jar, you can choose to ruin it in order to make a more permanent trap. Or, if you're like me and are a bit skeptical that this will even work, you may choose to build a more temporary model to start. We covered the opening of the jar with seran wrap and secured it with a giant rubber band.

Poke several small holes in the lid. Put a piece of fruit (banana seems to work well) in the jar with only enough apple cider vinegar so that your fruit forms an island. White vinegar does not work as well, though I have heard that red wine vinegar will work, too.

Put a few drops of dish soap in the vinegar. This is the secret ingredient, because it breaks the surface tension of the vinegar. Otherwise, the flies would simply stand on the surface and feast on your fruit turning your trap into a banquet hall.

Place the jar near fruit. Within an hour we had 20 dead fruit flies in our trap. We have yet to succeed in eliminating all the fruit flies as long as there is still fruit in the galley, but we have kept the population tolerable.

A surprising bonus to this trap is that the vinegar preserves the banana. No need to remove it because it becomes a rotten, smelly mess. When you have caught enough flies to warrant a cleaning, or once all your fruit is gone and the trap is redundant, throw the entire contents of the jar into the compost pile (or wherever else you put food scraps) and build another, nearly free, trap when the need arises.

Many moons ago, my sister and her husband bought an RV, toured the US on an extended honeymoon, came home, and sold the RV for a profit. MONDAY we'll share the tale of some friends who have managed the same trick with boats. Nearly twice. Disposable boats can take you farther than you may think.

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