Is this really such a big issue that deserves an entire blog? Yes! Fruit flies are a nuisance that carries harmful pathogens responsible for various health disorders. If you’re searching the web for “how to get rid of fruit flies in a bar” chances are you are already dealing with a full-blown fruit fly infestation in your restaurant.

Bars and restaurants are favored by fruit flies because of the large number of food leftovers from the kitchen garbage. If not dealt with in the initial stages, fruit flies can turn out to be very dangerous for your customers and staff’s health. Moreover, it can reduce your bar’s hygiene quotient which can heavily impact customer footfall. 

In this blog, we talk about what attracts fruit flies to your bar/restaurant, how to get rid of fruit flies in a commercial kitchen, and what is the fastest way to get rid of fruit flies. We will also talk about what other common food pests can be harmful for your restaurant business. So let’s first understand what exactly brings fruit flies or bar flies to your restaurant.

What causes fruit flies in your restaurant or bar?

Fruit flies on a fruit
Fruit flies on a ripe fruit

True to their name, fruit flies thrive on fruit and vegetable peels. They will breed on perishable fruits and vegetables that have ripened. How do they enter a bar? When your restaurant supplies include ripe fruits or vegetables that are infested. Once they have entered, the flies receive the ideal food supply required to thrive and spread. 

Female fruit flies entering your bar/restaurant get attracted to overripe or rotting fruits and start laying eggs on their surface. Once these eggs hatch, the larva start feasting on the very same fruit and grow into an adult fruit fly within a few days.

Fruit flies also breed in the garbage bins and drains. The moistness of mops and cleaning rags also become breeding grounds for fruit flies. In addition to these, beverage spills which are pretty common in a bar also attract fruit flies. 

Inadequate cleaning of restaurant bathrooms can also cause fruit flies to quickly reproduce. When you ignore drain cleaning, you will notice grease and bacteria building up on the sides and cracks of the drain pipes. This makes it a breeding ground for flies and they start laying their eggs. 

In conclusion, lack of cleanliness can invite fruit flies as well as drain flies. So it is important to have a rigorous cleaning routine in place. Even though their life cycle is very short, the extreme reproductive potential of fruit flies can cause a lot of damage in a short span.

What dangers do fruit flies bring to your restaurant or bar?

DO NOT underestimate the power of these tiny flies. Fruit flies are one of the most filthy pests because they are mostly in unsanitary spots. This means they bring bacteria from dirty surroundings. At one point they’ll be feeding on the food waste in the garbage bins, and the next moment on a customer’s glass or plate of food.  

Since they carry disease-causing organisms, they can contaminate food and ruin your restaurant and bar’s reputation. Not only do they feed on your restaurant food, but also lay eggs on them. When these pesky little bar flies lay eggs on open drinks, they end up making them unfit for consumption. 

Moreover, they pose a huge threat as they tend to carry pathogens from dirty washrooms to the rest of the restaurant. Some of these include highly dangerous bacteria like salmonella and listeria. Both these bacteria are responsible for causing food poisoning. So even if you feel only a small section of your restaurant is infested, things can go out of hand quicker than you imagine.

What other pests are harmful to your restaurant kitchen?

ants on a rotten apply
Ants on a rotten apple

Fruit flies are not the only culprits that put your customer’s health in jeopardy. Gnats are other very common bugs that resemble mosquitoes. Restaurants also deal with common pests like ants, cockroaches, and rodents like rats and mice. Then there are pantry pests that contaminate stored foods – everything from flour to spices to cereals and even dried nuts.  

All these pests spread harmful bacteria through their feet, fur, saliva, or droppings. While some of these can be eliminated through over-the-counter products or common traps, some will require an exterminator or help from a pest control company. The key is to identify their presence and deal with them in the early stages to prevent a full-blown infestation. 

How to get rid of fruit flies?

The number one solution to eliminate fruit flies from a bar or commercial kitchen is active prevention. Your restaurant cleaning checklist should include pest prevention activities that eliminate any breeding grounds. This is vital because adult fruit flies reproduce very fast and can lay as many as 500 eggs at a time. Within 8-10 days these eggs turn into adult fruit flies. 

If the first step has somehow proven to be inadequate and you find yourself dealing with bar flies, don’t worry. We have listed below some of the best techniques on how to get rid of fruit flies in a bar and restaurant. Choose one or combine multiple techniques based on the extremity of the situation in your organization.

1) Remove everything that’s rotting:

One of the most important tips to keep fruit flies at bay is to never leave anything that’s rotting in your restaurant. Toss out everything that is decaying, over-ripe, or half-consumed. You should either discard them or refrigerate them. This practice is not just applicable to the kitchen but also to the store room and the bar. 

Keep garnishes like lemon wedges, orange twists, and pineapple slices in a sealed box once the bar shuts down. If they are left in the open, fruit flies will feast on them and then lay their eggs in them. If possible, keep them covered during the day as well to prevent contamination.

2) Leave the bar top clean at night:

Anyone who has been behind the bar can testify that leaving an unclean bar top is one of the easiest ways to attract fruit flies to the bar. Alcoholic bottles and their tops tend to be sticky. If left open, they become breeding grounds for fruit flies. So it is recommended to always have all bottle tops covered. 

If you use pour spouts, do not leave them open at night. You may come back the next morning only to find fruit flies buzzing around them. There are various options available in the market to cover spouts. Some commonly used options are pour spout caps, aluminum foil, and saran wrap.

If you are struggling to understand how to get rid of fruit flies around beer taps, start with something as simple as cleaning excess liquid. Mix ½ portion of water in ½ portion of any chlorinated liquid sanitizer and use it to clean all possible areas visited by the fruit flies. It’s a very effective mix to kill fruit fly eggs.

As mentioned earlier, fruit flies tend to breed in moist areas. So leaving beer around the taps overnight is a big no-no. At the same time, cleaning the bar mats is also vital to prevent any build-up of organic matter. So don’t forget to scrub the bar top mats and disinfect them.

bar flies on a glass on the restaurant bar top

3) Dispose off the garbage diligently:

However basic this may seem, taking the trash out and emptying the garbage bins is a must to keep fruit flies away from your restaurant kitchen and bar. Restaurants that leave garbage bins flowing with food waste overnight are basically handing out an invitation to flies to breed in their premises.

Always bag garbage bins so they don’t end up sticky or moist with fruit juices and take them out as frequently as possible throughout the day. The trash can should also be washed regularly to prevent any buildup of grease or bacteria.  

4) Keep moisture away:

Any area that has moisture will become a source of nutrition for fruit flies. For example, drain lines and kitchen sinks. Drying the sink before leaving will reduce the chances of fruit flies laying their eggs in there. If there is any leftover ice at the end of the day, make sure it’s not left in the kitchen sink to melt away. 

5) Clean the drains:

If you’re unable to find the source of fruit flies in your restaurant or bar, look for the sink and floor drains. They are moist, greasy, and contain food materials making them a perfect spot for bar flies. So get them flushed with organic drain cleaners that don’t harm the pipes but effectively clean the dirt and grease.

Another common DIY solution to clean the drains is using baking soda and vinegar in equal quantities. Pour them down the drain and after an hour, add boiling water over it. Immediately cover the drains after this to ensure the flies don’t escape and move to other parts of the restaurant overnight.

6) Set bar fly trap:

If you are wondering what is the fastest way to get rid of fruit flies, the answer is setting traps. If your restaurant is not free from fruit flies even after doing all of the above steps, the best thing to do is to invite them in groups by setting a trap and killing them all together. 

Fruit flies don’t hang out together but you will find them all huddled together if there is a source of nourishment available nearby. So why not set a trap by giving them what they want? Here are some common bar fly trap ideas that can be easily created and require very little maintenance.

  • Take a transparent disposable glass or bowl and add honey water to it. You can also add an over-ripe piece of fruit to it since fruit flies love them. Now cover it with a saran wrap and poke holes in it. The fruit flies will come swooping in and enter the bowl, but won’t be able to leave it. Discard this bowl away from the restaurant premises when you see ample fruit flies trapped inside. If you want to avoid using plastic, you can do this with a glass jar and a funnel to create a narrow entrance that is inescapable. Wait for the jar to fill up with dead flies and then empty it. 
  • This is a popular fruit fly trap a lot of bars use that involves the use of apple cider vinegar. Fill a disposable cup with 1/4 apple cider vinegar. Then add a few drops of dish soap to it. Dish soap makes it difficult for them to escape the cup. Now, add a saran wrap on top and poke holes in it. The flies will not be able to resist the concentrated aroma and will come flying towards it. Place multiple cups around the restaurant premises to get rid of fruit flies quickly.
  • This trap requires a bottle of stale wine that is more on the sweeter side. You don’t need an entire bottle of wine for this. Keep this bottle of old wine near areas where there is a heavy concentration of fruit flies. The flies will get easily trapped as leaving the narrow bottle neck is a challenge for them. 
  • To eliminate fruit flies from drains, sprinkle sodium borate or boric powder into the drain. Add boiling water on top and leave it for 15 minutes. Then flush the drain pipe with ample water. Not only does this dehydrate the fruit flies but is also a great remedy for stubborn clogs in drain pipes.

If your restaurant bar or kitchen is dealing with severe fruit fly infestations in multiple places, you can opt for a more powerful over-the-counter fruit fly trap also. But before you buy one, make sure it is in line with your local health department’s guidelines.

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

A fruit fly’s lifespan may not be very long but their death won’t solve your problem. Since they lay so many eggs at one time, the emergence of new ones grows significantly in comparison to the eradication of old ones. 

A commercial kitchen buzzing with rotten fruits and vegetables will find it very difficult to get rid of flies. At the same time, if your kitchen is clean but the bathrooms have low sanitation levels with standing water, it can get challenging to get rid of fruit flies quickly. 

In conclusion:

As evident from the above information, the presence of fruit flies in a bar or restaurant kitchen is not something that can be taken lightly. Their feeding and breeding habits make them one of the top 3 pest threats for a restaurant. Use these tips and traps to successfully deal with a fruit fly infestation in your restaurant. 

Having said that, nothing can exceed the impact thorough cleaning can bring in keeping fruit flies and other pests at bay. So make sure your restaurant cleaning and sanitation program is top-notch to avoid fruit flies from coming or breeding in your bar and kitchen.