Picture of the Homemade Fruit Fly Trap in action, made with cooking wine and dish soap. It really works!

How to Catch Fruit Flies with Red Wine

No matter where we’ve lived in the northeast and Midwest, fruit flies trouble us about every summer.

But knowing that they love the scent of very ripe, fermenting, or rotting fruit, we devised a way to quickly trap and get rid of them, with ingredients virtually harmless to humans, very inexpensive to buy, low odor, and a cinch to clean up.  This technique removed the fruit flies from our entire apartment in just a few days, for just a few pennies cost.


It’s quite simple, really.  All you need is a glass bowl, a quarter cup of red wine, and a few drops of (preferably unscented) dish washing liquid.  The wine emits a long-reaching sweet scent of fermenting fruit, and the soap helps keep the fruit flies under the surface of the wine once they dive in.  Avoid dish soaps with very strong scents, as these can mask the red wine scent.

Fruit Fly Catcher Recipe

Add a few drops of the hand dish washing soap to the small glass bowl.  We use any coking wine and Great Value Ultra Concentrated Dishwashing Liquid here, although you could use any bottom shelf red wine and soap you happen to have.

Then, pour the wine into the bowl, being careful not to pour directly onto the soap (we want to avoid creating suds.  Small bowls work best because you need much less wine to fill them to a lethal depth for fruit flies.

Gently stir the soap and wine together until the dish soap completely dissolves into the wine.

Picture of the Homemade fruit fly catcher Ingredients: cooking sherry, dishwashing liquid soap, and a glass bowl.
Homemade fruit fly catcher Ingredients: any red wine, dishwashing liquid soap, and glass bowl.

Fruit Fly Catch Procedure

Place the bowl on a hard, flat surface, near the strongest concentrations of fruit flies in your living space, but away from high traffic areas so it will not be accidently spilled.  Typically this will be the kitchen, where fruity or sugary foods are often prepared.  But you may also experience infestations in the living room and bathroom, where fruity aromas often occur from fruit-scented candles, shampoos, perfumes, and the like.

Then, watch the fruit flies come!  Within minutes, our bowl looked like full fruit fly hotel / graveyard, as pictured below.

Leave the bowl in place until all fruit flies in the area have lighted in the bowl.  This took two days for us, before we saw no fruit flies zipping around the stove, sink,and garbage can.

Top off the bowl with more wine each day, to restore full potency to the fermenting fruit aroma.

Periodically scatter the live fruit flies that congregate on and around the bowl.  Sometimes, they’ll just site around enjoying the aromas without actually diving into the soapy wine.  Stirring them up like this a few times per day moves them to, “take that plunge,” so to speak.

Once all fruit flies have been killed, dump the bowl contents into your toilet and flush them down.

Repeat the catcher trap as necessary.

Place these homemade fruit fly catchers in all rooms where you’ve observed fruit flies.

Picture of the Homemade Fruit Fly Trap in action, made with cooking wine and dish soap. It really works!
Homemade Fruit Fly Trap in action, made with cooking wine and dish soap.


Since this fruit fly catcher solution contains only water soluble ingredients, spills are easily wiped up with wet dish cloth or rag.  Drops on clothing may be washed out in the regular laundry.  Just don’t spill any on carpet, especially if you’ve used DARK red wine.

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Revision Hstory

  • 2017-02-12: Originally published.