There are roughly 16,000 types of fly species in Southern Africa, but the three most common flies affecting pubs, bars, restaurants, and other food establishments are house flies, bluebottles and – the most irritating of all – fruit flies. An unwelcome guest at any bar, the tiny fruit fly can be a nuisance all year round. But how can you prevent fruit flies when warm weather and the abundance of summer fruits and vegetables – and sticky, sugary drinks – provide greater opportunities for them to thrive?
What are fruit flies?
Fruit flies are very small, black and tan coloured insects with red eyes. Adult flies are approximately 3 – 4 mm in size. They have a slow ‘lazy’ flight and tend to hover, particularly around overripe fruits, hence the name “fruit fly”.
Why do fruit flies hang around bars?
Fruit flies feed on overripe fruit and vegetables and are attracted to the fermenting sugars in alcoholic drinks, including spills, the dregs left in the bottom of the glass, and residues in sinks and drains.
From the maraschino cherries, pineapple wedges, and fruit garnishes prepared for exotic cocktails, to beer and cider soaked bar mats and drip trays, bars are a tempting source of food for fruit flies. Fruit flies will take advantage of any fermenting or sugary substance. Surprisingly, there are some non-food items that can attract the attention of fruit flies too, for example, the residues on damp mops, sponges and cleaning cloths, or wastewater in ice wells and sinks.
Why should hospitality businesses prevent fruit flies?
Although these insects are primarily seen as a nuisance pest, they have the potential to cross-contaminate food and drink with bacteria and pathogens (organisms that can cause disease). Fruit flies visit unsanitary locations such as rubbish bins, fermenting fruit, decaying vegetation and drains, from which they can transfer pathogens.
Also, the tiny fruit fly lays its eggs in ripening fruit and sweet fermenting liquids – for example, open liquor and syrup bottles (even with pour spouts) and fruit garnishes. Once hatched the larvae will feed directly on the over-ripened food or sugary liquids.
If you inadvertently consume the fly larvae they can cause discomfort and diarrhoea. Health & Safety inspectors will raise concerns if fruit flies are found infesting areas where food is prepared, processed or served.
What helps prevent a fruit fly infestation?
Fruit flies will breed quickly (up to 500 eggs laid at a time which can fully develop in as little as eight days in conditions around 15 0C), which can lead to a rapid infestation within a very short time period. Getting rid of fruit flies in a hospitality environment, especially a bar area, is challenging, as a single rotten slice of cucumber at the bottom of a bin or a small spillage of mixer syrup under a refrigerator could breed hundreds of fruit flies.
Here are some steps you can take to prevent fruit flies from taking up residence in your bar:
1) Keep your bar area clean:
I know it sounds obvious, but flies are attracted to unhygienic areas. Fruit flies only need a moist film of fermenting organic material in which to breed. Make sure all bar staff know the cleaning regime they must follow, and make sure the cleaning schedule includes regular cleaning of walls, floors, ceilings and windows, as well as bar mats and beer drip trays. It’s also important that equipment is routinely cleaned and fridges and freezers are wiped down inside and out. To really prevent fruit flies you need to think beyond the bar as well: tables, chairs and barstools will also need to be wiped down to remove any sticky spillages.
2) Limit access to liquids:
Make sure there is no standing water left overnight by ensuring sinks are drained and wiped dry and ice wells are cleared out. Also make sure that drains are cleaned with sanitizer every evening, as the remnants of juices, mixers and liquors can still attract fruit flies to your drains even if they have been swilled with water.
3) Cover bottles and beer taps:
At the end of every evening ensure syrup and liquor bottles are sealed. If you use pour spouts on your bottles you can buy spout caps or screened top pourers. Otherwise, fruit flies will crawl inside the bottles and lay eggs, and when the larvae hatch they will feed on the liquid. Get bar staff to wipe down beer taps and even soft drinks guns and cover them, so that nothing can drip into trays for fruit flies to feed on and breed in overnight.
4) Dispose of rubbish frequently:
Food waste in rubbish bins needs to be collected and removed frequently so that it does not have time to decompose and fester. Fruit flies are sensitive to the smell of decaying food and will quickly be attracted to the bins and any organic residue lurking at the bottom.
How do you get rid of a fruit fly infestation?
All potential fruit fly breeding sites must be located and eliminated, otherwise, the problem will continue.
Rentokil has effective solutions to fruit fly issues, which help to control the volume of fruit flies on your premises. However, effective fruit fly control can only be maintained if any housekeeping issues that are identified are resolved. Contact Rentokil today for a free survey of your bar or restaurant, and make sure its a fruit fly free summer season.