Why Don’t Grocery Stores Have Fruit Flies?


Fruit flies. Those pesky little flies that seem to love every fruit and vegetable on your counter. But it may have surprised you that grocery stores that have tons of produce rarely have fruit flies. Why don’t grocery stores have fruit flies?

Here’s what I know from decades of experience:

Grocery stores don’t have fruit flies as they take all the precautions to prevent them in the first place. Since fruit flies go after rotten produce, grocery stores pay special attention to cull items daily. They also keep the shelves & racks clean, quickly wiping away any stray produce juices.

But, it is also essential to learn what attracts fruit flies, and why they may swarm in your kitchen but are hard to spot in stores. Besides, there’s much more to know about how grocery stores prevent and kill fruit flies. 

Just keep reading to find out!

What causes fruit flies to appear?

Fruit flies generally appear out of nowhere. One day, there are no fruit flies anywhere to be seen. The next day, a swarm appears.

So what gives?

Fruit flies lay their eggs directly on rotting fruit and vegetables. They may also lay their eggs inside drains or on countertops that are not kept clean.

Besides, Fruit flies may produce up to 500 offspring, and the entire life cycle only takes about a week to complete. As a result, they can get out of control quickly. 

Fruit flies are attracted to the smell of ripening fruit and decomposing produce.

I can’t think of anything stronger smelling than overripe bananas. So if your bananas, or any fresh produce, has been hanging around on the counter for too long, you’re likely to attract Fruit Flies.

At the grocery store, if the fruit is close to being overripe, or is otherwise not able to be sold, like a bruised apple, it might be transferred to another department like the Juice Bar. There it will be refrigerated if not used immediately.

That way, the produce department doesn’t get fruit flies. And it also helps the store reduce waste by using it in a different department.

But unfortunately, not all damaged or dated products get reused. So you may be wondering what happens to other food that isn’t sold.

If you are wondering what happens to unsold food in supermarkets, just read this recent article.

Just click the link to read it on my site. 

Do grocery stores use pesticides to kill fruit flies?

It’s unlikely that grocery stores use pesticides to kill fruit flies because they cannot be easily controlled with pesticides and insecticides. Plus most grocery stores have organically grown produce that can’t be sprayed with most pesticides.

The best solution to control flies is to prevent them in the first place.

The workers in the produce department are continually making sure surfaces are kept clean and dry. The high turnover of produce means they don’t need to inspect every piece of food necessarily. But they do remove produce with spots and bruises as quickly as possible.

Plus all stock gets rotated daily and anything damaged, bruised, or past it’s prime gets culled daily.

If they see a fruit fly, they head towards it to take a look at what it’s attracted to. Then they remove the source and clean the area around it.

In fact, one of the reasons that people love Whole Foods Market so much is that they genuinely care about the quality of their products.

They care so much that they have gone above and beyond the standards set by the FDA. As there is no definition of “natural” food, Whole Foods has compiled its own list of unacceptable ingredients.

These unacceptable ingredients include, but are not limited to:

  • Hydrogenated fats
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Preservatives
  • Artificial colors and flavors

If a food contains any of these unacceptable ingredients, you won’t see it on their shelves.

To read more about what makes Whole Foods so popular, just check out this recent article.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Do grocery stores use traps to kill fruit flies?

Some grocery stores probably have traps in the back rooms.

Bugs of all kinds, not just fruit flies can get in near the trash compactor and loading docks. So they will likely have either sticky traps or zappers in the room near the trash compactor and receiving area.

Regardless of what they use, they won’t be out where the customers can see them.

This talk about the back room and the trash compactor may have you thinking about all of the other sections of the grocery store.

And there are many of them!

Almost all grocery stores start with a produce department and then line the walls with meat, seafood, deli, and bakery. Then the center of the store encompasses the grocery department, along with beer and wine, and health and beauty products. The front end is where the cashiers and baggers finalize the shopping experience.

But that just scratches the surface! To read all about the different sections of a grocery store, read this recent article.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How do you get rid of fruit flies in a grocery store?

Fruit flies can be challenging to get rid of.

Prevention methods are the best way to ensure fruit flies don’t make an appearance. That’s why it’s so important to remove any bruised or overripe produce promptly.

But if an apple falls off the counter, and gets kicked under the display, it will start to rot. When it starts to decay, fruit flies will know and will start to swarm.

That’s when the cleaning begins.

The produce department will have to do a deep cleaning of the area. Not only to find the food source for the fruit flies but to prevent more from coming.

When they find that hidden onion, they’ll clean the area thoroughly with bleach. They’ll clean the floor where the onion was, as well as any surrounding surfaces. They’ll remove any other potential food sources as well.

If they are bad enough, they may call in a professional service to get rid of them.

What is the best product to kill fruit flies?

The first thing worth doing is to make sure it’s actually a fruit fly and not a gnat.

Fruit flies range from tan to reddish-orange and brown. Gnats are a common look alike, but they are gray to black in color.

If you do have fruit flies, first and foremost, clean all of your surfaces and discard any overripe or rotting fruit. If you’ve cleaned and cleaned, but you’re still seeing them, there are a few ways to get rid of fruit flies.

Apple cider vinegar. Fill a glass or bowl with apple cider vinegar, and cover it with plastic wrap and seal with a rubber band. Poke tiny holes in the top. Fruit flies will be attracted to the vinegar, but won’t be able to escape.

Apple cider vinegar and dish soap. Secondly, you may use a drop of dish soap in a bowl of vinegar and mix. Since soap decreases the surface tension, the flies become immersed and can’t escape.

Old beer or wine. If you have a bottle of beer or an old bottle of wine, leave it out near where the fruit flies have been congregating. They will be attracted to the old, sweet beverage, but will be unable to escape through the narrow neck.

If you want to try something you can buy on Amazon, check these good, old-fashioned, Sticky Ribbon Catcher Fly Traps or Raid Flying Insect Killer, which works GREAT on fruit flies, leaves no chemical residue and has no lingering chemical odor.

Just click either link to see the current price on Amazon.

Did I answer everything you wanted to know about why grocery stores don’t have fruit flies?

We talked about how fruit flies gravitate toward rotten fruit.

Grocery stores do their best to make sure that there are no rotten fruit or fruit juices on display. We also discussed how grocery stores prevent the appearance of fruit flies. And how fruit files are handled if they do make an appearance.

Grocery stores hate fruit flies just as much as you do because they know that you won’t want to shop where there are swarms of those pesky bugs.

Jeff Campbell

Hi! I'm Jeff Campbell. I was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades. I worked in 9 stores in 4 states, not counting the hundred-plus stores I've assisted in other ways. I was a Global All-Star, a Gold Pen Winner, and won Top-10 Store (company-wide) 3 times in addition to Best New Store (company-wide).

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