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Fruit flies be gone – eaten by carnivorous Sundew

Ma, of Pops Predatory Plants, holds a bug eating Sundew, while her frightened niece looks on. Photo by Michael Levenston.

Sundews (Drosera): These sticky plants are great for trapping fruit flies and fungus gnats.

At City Farmer, we get a “horde” of calls about fruit fly problems on our Compost Hotline. The staff have a variety of answers and some of them were reproduced in the Globe and Mail newspaper last week. (See below.)

Our Bug Lady, Maria Keating added one more excellent suggestion, a small Sundew, a plant trap, that can be kept in the kitchen right next to your food scraps bucket. It’s sticky tentacles are ready and hungry for those annoying insects, which often show up on rotting food.

International Carnivorous Plant Society says: “The carnivorous sundew plant, botanical name Drosera, has about 130 species. All of the species of the sundew plant are beautiful and many look like fireworks, but they are deadly to the insects that fly near to them.

“One thing that all carnivorous sundew plants do have is the gel like substance at the tips of the tentacles that cover the leaves. This gel is a sticky substance that the insects that fly too near the plant get stuck on. The plant can then eat it.

“The plant is called sundew because of the gel like substance on the tentacles. The gel makes the plants look as if they have morning dew on them all day long, especially when it glistens in the sun.”

Pops Predatory Plants here.

International Carnivorous Plant Society here.

Five steps to a kitchen free of fruit flies

By Vivian Luk
Globe and Mail
July 16, 2011

Filling an indoor organic-waste bin with fruit peels, coffee grinds and meat scraps is one way to do right by the environment, but it is also a recipe for a fruit-fly problem. Fruit flies are, as the name implies, attracted to ripe fruit, and often the produce you bring home from the grocer contains fly eggs that may hatch in a matter of hours. In the summer, when compost can become stinkier than usual, fruit flies are all the more attracted to those rotting banana peels and will breed by the hundreds. Here are some ways to keep those pests out of the kitchen.

Minimize waste volume: Hold only one to two days’ worth of food scraps in a tightly sealed bin. Less food equals fewer flies.

Freeze them: Toss the contents of the organic-waste bin into the freezer before you dump the material outside. The cold temperature will kill any fruit-fly eggs.

Layer them: Place a used paper towel or brown paper bag over the scraps to soak up moisture and keep odour at bay. Food rots more slowly when there is no liquid.

Take it outside: Wrap up scraps in pieces of newspaper, paper towels or an old pizza box and take them directly to the outdoor green-waste bin.

Trap them: In a small container, combine half a cup of fruit juice, two drops of vinegar and two drops of liquid dish soap and seal the container with plastic wrap. Poke holes into the wrap with a toothpick and place the container beside or on top of the bin. The fermenting vinegar and fruit juice will attract adult flies and the soap will kill them. Empty the container every three to four days.

Link to story here.


1 Jessica { 07.25.11 at 9:02 am }

Just wondering where I might find one of these wonderful plants?

2 Tina { 07.26.11 at 12:42 pm }

What does the plant eat if you don’t have fruit flies for several weeks?