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Extension > Yard and Garden News > October 2016

Thursday, October 27, 2016

What to do about fruit flies

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

Fruit flies, Drosophila spp., can be a common insect in homes during fall. Also called vinegar or pomace flies, they are small, about 1/8th inch long with a brownish body and a dark colored abdomen. Fruit flies typically have red eyes which are a good feature to help distinguish them
Fruit flies are about 1/8th inch long and usually have red eyes.
Photo: Jeff Hahn, U of M Extension
between other indoors flies (however this color fades once the flies are dead).

Be careful as there are other small-sized flies, such as fungus gnats, moth flies, and humpbacked flies, that could be confused with fruit flies. There is even a couple of species of fruit flies with dark colored eyes that are a little larger than an average fruit fly. The control varies depending on what the type of fly is found so it is important to verify the insect you are finding in your home.

Fruit flies are associated with fermenting, moist, relatively undisturbed organic material. This is often due to overripe and decaying fruits and vegetables but can also be in a variety of other sources, such as soft drink, wine, and beer residue in unclean containers (and have been sitting around for a while) and trash containers with wet garbage that are not cleaned regularly.

These flies can also be found in unusual, unexpected sites. In one case they were found infesting an osage orange that had been set out to control spiders (which by the way does not work) and forgotten about. As it became soft and started to decay, it attracted fruit flies which infested it.

The best control of these flies is to find the source of the infestation and remove it. While this is straight forward, it can be easier said than done. You often have to be a detective to locate the problem as it may not be immediately obvious what they are infesting. Particularly examine areas where fruit flies are found but keep in mind that the infestation source may not always be near where fruit flies are found; it could even be in a different room. Keep inspecting after you find the breeding site as there may be more than one infestation source.

It may be tempting to kill the adults by spraying, swatting or trapping them but this rarely eliminates them. As long as a food sources remains, fruit flies can reproduce faster than you kill the adults. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to get ahead of the problem and eliminate all of the flies by directing control at the adults.

Friday, October 14, 2016

2017 Minnesota Gardening Calendar available

2017 Minnesota Gardening Calendar
30 pages of tips, photos, guidelines for MN gardeners
The 2017 Minnesota Gardening Calendar is a great resource for the gardeners in your life! It is a terrific holiday gift, housewarming gift (especially new homeowners who have never owned a yard), host gift, or just a thanks-for-watching-my-plants gift. Whatever your reason, this is the time to get your copies. Buy online or in person from selected University of Minnesota bookstores and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum gift shop. Written by Extension Horticulturists. the 2017 Minnesota Gardening Calendar features monthly lawn care and gardening. Featured writer and turf extension Educator Sam Bauer contributes an informative article called Water Saving Strategies for Home Lawns and provides guidance on reducing our water use without sacrificing a great looking lawn. And then there are the photos! Each month features a timely photo that reminds us Minnesota landscapes are beautiful at any time of the year!
Timely photos each month
Timely gardening tips each month

Articles by Extension experts
Important guides for successful gardens


There's still time for dormant seeding - a good option for good lawn next spring

“I know I missed the best time for seeding my lawn which is mid-August to mid-September. Can I still seed even though it’s October and temperatures have been mild?” According to turfgrass Extension educator, Sam Bauer, “Just wait, dormant seeding in November will be your best option." True temperatures are warm during the month of October, and a homeowner could get some seed germination before winter snows, but this is touch-and-go. Bauer recommends saving your time and money and wait dormant seed in mid- to end-November. Read more.

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