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Do houseplants attract fruit flies? 2 yellow fruit flies sitting on a houseplant

Do Houseplants Attract Fruit Flies? (11 Helpful Answers!)

If you have houseplants and you are dealing with fruit fly infestations, you might be wondering whether the plants could possibly be responsible.

Fruit flies are extremely frustrating pests to have in the house and they can multiply quickly, so working out what is attracting them is key.

So, Here’s if Houseplants Really Attract Fruit Flies or Not:

Houseplants do not actively attract fruit flies, but they may provide some of the conditions that fruit flies require to survive, which could be why you will occasionally see them around your plants. Houseplants often have damp soil, which the flies will lay their eggs in and drink moisture from.

1. Do Houseplants Cause Fruit Flies?

Houseplants do not directly cause fruit flies, no. Fruit flies generally come into your home because they can detect a source of food, which tends to be overripe or rotten fruit.

They will come for other kinds of food too, but this is the most attractive to them.

Sometimes, fruit flies will spend a lot of time around your houseplants, partly because this environment tends to be cool and pleasant and reasonably undisturbed.

However, the plants themselves are not causing the fruit flies; they are just harboring them.

2. Can Compost Attract Fruit Flies To Your Houseplants?

Compost can be responsible for attracting fruit flies to your houseplants. It may lure in fruit flies more than plants do, because it provides them with ideal conditions to lay their eggs in. They like moist, loose material, and compost is perfect for them.

They may also find small morsels to eat in the compost if there is any organic matter that has not finished breaking down in there.

Because fruit flies are so small, even tiny scraps of decaying matter can attract them, particularly if you have removed other sources of food.

3. Do Dying Plants Attract Fruit Flies?

No, a plant that is dying does not really provide any more attraction to fruit flies, because it still isn’t a viable food source for them. They generally only eat organic matter that is rotting, because this is tender and easy for them to consume.

A dying plant will not yet be rotting, so it isn’t appealing to fruit flies.

However, if some of the leaves have begun to rot, there is a chance that fruit flies will be attracted to these.

If one of your plants is sick, removing the rotting foliage is a good idea, for the plant’s sake and to deter fruit flies.

4. Why Is Your Plant Attracting Fruit Flies?

The most likely explanation for fruit flies being attracted to your plant is because they are looking for a place to lay their eggs, and the cool, damp compost offers the perfect opportunity for this. Fruit flies will often land on plants or near their pots to assess the compost, and then lay in it.

When the eggs hatch, you will see lots of tiny fruit flies emerging from the plant, adding to the population in your kitchen.

Fruit flies may be attracted to the plant for other reasons too, especially if you have just watered it.

These flies like damp environments and need to drink, so they will settle on the soil and suck up moisture from it.

A further explanation is that there are other pests bothering your plant, such as aphids.

These secrete a sticky substance known as honeydew, which is full of sugar.

This is very appealing to the fruit flies, and they will happily sit on plants and drink this in great quantities if it is available.

The fruit flies don’t create honeydew themselves as they don’t feed directly on plants, so look for other pests if you are encountering this problem.

Honeydew usually takes the form of tiny, sticky drops on the plant’s leaves and the surrounding surface. Clean up any honeydew and get rid of the aphids or other pests to reduce your fruit fly problem.

To summarize, here are all the reasons why fruit flies might be attracted to your plant:

  • You are using compost and fruit flies will use the compost to lay their eggs.
  • If the soil is kept damp or you’ve just watered the plant, they will settle on the soil and drink the water.
  • If the plant has aphids or pests that secret honeydew, fruit flies will find use that as a food source.

5. Fruit Flies Vs Gnats On Houseplants

Fungus gnats, sometimes just called gnats, are often confused with fruit flies, but they are two very different species and you need to deal with them in different ways.

It can be difficult to tell the two insects apart as they are both tiny and dark, but fungus gnats will usually stay close to plants, as they are not good at flying.

Do houseplants attract fruit flies? fruit fly side by side with fungus gnat

Fruit fly right, Fungus gnat left

How can you tell?

To understand if you are dealing with fruit flies instead of fungus gnats, look at their appearance and behaviour:

Appearance

If you look closely, you should also be able to see that adult fungus gnats are gray or black, while some (but not all) fruit flies are tan.

Fruit flies also have a bigger head with big, fly like-eyes, while fungus gnats have a very small needle-like head.

Some fruit flies are black and both insects are very tiny, which is why I recommend you look at their behavior to determine which pest they are dealing with.

Behaviour

You may also be able to tell if you have fungus gnats by gently stirring up the soil in your plant’s pot. These gnats lay in the soil, and their larvae will be tiny, semi-transparent white worms beneath the surface.

Fruit flies will usually settle on fruit and other food around the kitchen, or swarm around drains. They may land on plants, but they won’t stay there all the time.

Because fungus gnats are bad at flying and depend on plants, you won’t see them around anything else besides your plants.

Which is worse?

Fungus gnats are worse for houseplants, but ultimately which is worse to deal with depends on your point of view.

Fruit flies are often more obviously annoying and will keep landing on your food, but fungus gnats can be harder to get rid of because the larvae will burrow into the soil and stay hidden.

With fungus gnats, you might even have to repot the plant, whereas you can get rid of fruit flies simply by removing all the food sources.

6. Do Fruit Flies Eat Houseplants?

No, fruit flies do not eat houseplants. They feed on rotting vegetable matter, and not live plant matter, so your houseplants should be safe from them.

You might get this feeling because they are landing on the houseplant from now and again, but they aren’t eating it.

7. Are Fruit Flies Harmful To Houseplants?

Fruit flies should not be harmful to a houseplant, no. They may occasionally inhabit the soil of a houseplant, but they do not attack the leaves, the roots, or any part of the plant, so you don’t need to worry about their presence hurting your plants.

8. Can Fruit Flies Breed In Houseplants?

Fruit flies don’t breed in the houseplants directly, but they will lay their eggs in the compost of the plant and they may mate near the plant if anything else is not available. Fruit flies like to lay their eggs in organic material, so they will choose soft food rather than plant compost.

That means that fruit flies can and will breed without houseplants too.

Removing your houseplants will not prevent fruit flies from breeding inside your home, but they can serve as a breeding ground for fruit flies if they are present.

9. How To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies In Your Houseplants

Getting rid of fruit flies in your houseplants is done in several ways, and there are plenty of natural methods that you can turn to. You don’t need to use any chemicals, here’s what you should do:

  • Eliminate nearby sources of food
  • Reduce how much you water the plants or completely flood the soil to make it inhospitable
  • Put a layer of aquarium gravel on top of the soil, covering it completely so that the hatching flies cannot climb out
  • Pour some apple cider vinegar or beer into a cup, add a little dish soap, and then stir it. Place the cup nearby and the fruit flies will drink the liquid and die
  • Remove all nearby sources of water and empty out any plant saucers that are holding water

It may take a little while for the fruit flies to die, but a combination of these methods should kill the adults and stop the young in the soil from being able to climb out.

This will kill the population off in a few days.

10. How To Protect Houseplants From Fruit Flies

You can protect houseplants from fruit flies by not overwatering them, since fruit flies are attracted to a damp environment. Keep the soil fairly dry, and deal with any pests that are attacking the plant so that the fruit flies cannot get honeydew from them.

Overall, this should be enough to keep the houseplants safe, but you can also cover the soil with gravel to stop the flies from laying in it.

11. Houseplants That Repel Fruit Flies

There are certain houseplants that fruit flies absolutely hate, and planting these may help. Try the following plants like:

  • Lavender
  • Cloves
  • Peppermint
  • Basil
  • Lemongrass
  • Eucalyptus
  • Rosemary
  • Citronella

Most of these plants produce a very strong scent, and this actively drives the fruit flies away.

You will not find fruit flies sitting on the leaves of any of the above plants, and many can be grown in your kitchen, and even have culinary uses.

You could also consider getting a carnivorous plant such as a Venus flytrap.

This may not directly repel the fruit flies, but it will help you deal with the problem!

However, these plants aren’t very easy to keep, so you will need to depend on other solutions too.

Final Thoughts

Houseplants do not directly attract fruit flies, but they can help to make fruit flies comfortable if they are in your home.

The compost will provide a suitable laying ground for eggs, particularly if it is kept damp. Any plant predators may be producing honeydew, which the fruit flies will eat.

Keeping your plants fairly dry and removing any pests that you see should help to deter fruit flies from landing on your plants.

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