Fruit Flies in the Litter Box – The Complete Guide to Fruit Fly Extermination

Fruit flies can be a pesky annoyance when they’re just buzzing around the overripe bananas on your counter. But once they start infesting your pet’s litter box, they become a more troubling problem. They can quickly multiply until you have an infestation on your hands. 

So, what causes fruit flies in the litter box?

  • Cat litter boxes can attract fruit flies when left uncleaned for an extended period.
  • Fruit flies can be exterminated professionally or via a number of simple DIY traps.
  • Pet food and litter is often left out for long periods of time. This attracts fruit flies and other pests.

But all hope is not lost.

There are ways that you can rid your pet’s litter box of those disturbing fruit flies and live with peace of mind in your home again. We’ll find out how to do just that in this article.

Read on for the full comprehensive guide. 

Cleansing Your Litter Box of Fruit Flies

The unfortunate truth about litter boxes is that they attract many insects, including fruit flies, which can be very uncomfortable for your pets.

As a result, your pets might stop using the litter box and start doing their business around the house!

Fruit flies could be introduced into your home from your pet’s litter if they have ingested the eggs at any point, though adult fruit flies can also lay their eggs in the litter. If you don’t replace the litter frequently, the fruit flies will have a chance to hatch and pupate in the box. They multiply very rapidly. 

Adult fruit flies can lay their eggs in the litter.

Organic matter, like grass clippings, fruits, and vegetables, also attracts these pesky bugs, who also tend to hover around the litter box in search of moisture.

So how do you get rid of them?

Cleaning the box

To start dealing with an infestation of fruit flies, you’ll need to first empty and clean the litter box every day. Place it in a well-ventilated area that is cool and dry.

If you have any potted plants, ensure that they’re well away from your pet’s litter box. If you happen to have a fungus gnat infestation rather than a fruit fly infestation, they will attack your plants.

Also, ensure that there are no trash bins in sight, and consider screening your windows and doors with a fine mesh. 

You should wash and sanitize your pet’s litter box thoroughly at least once a month. Using a solution of 1:10 bleach and water works quite well for this. Once you’ve bleached the box, you can scoop any fruit flies within the pan and remove them. 

Placing a mixture of soap and apple cider vinegar next to the litter box can work as a repellent for the fruit flies. This mixture traps the flies that make their way to the box as they are attracted to the scent of the vinegar, while the soap traps the bugs in the solution. See our article on fruit fly traps here.

Dealing With a Fruit Fly Infestation – How it’s Done

If you’re sick of fruit flies buzzing around your fresh fruits and vegetables, then it’s time to evict them from your home. Here are some ways that you can get rid of these pests:

1. Locate the source

The first step in exterminating a fruit fly infestation is to determine the source of the flies. If they are buzzing around any open food items, be sure to throw that food away and do a thorough scrub of the area. They may well have laid their eggs in whatever food they’re flying around.

You can use any cleaning agent to disinfect the area, and in many cases, removing their ‘home’ is enough to drive all of the flies away. 

2. Clean common fruit fly spots

Once you have located the source, check your kitchen sink’s drain. If it is clogged or needs to be cleaned, there’s no time like the present to deal with it. Fruit flies love nothing more than to populate damp, warm areas. 

You should also remember to check your trash cans for any fruit fly activity. These bugs are known to breed in garbage, and if they manage to get into your trash cans, the situation can become much worse. 

If you find that fruit flies are swarming your trash, or you want to prevent this from happening, take the trash out and wipe the bin down using a potent cleaner. Bleach works best – just remember to ensure that the can is completely dry before you use it again. 

3. Create a fruit fly trap

If you have any leftover red wine you don’t plan on finishing, then you can use it to create an effective trap for these nasty flies. 

  1. Start by pouring some dish soap and red wine into a disposable container, and mix the two together. 
  2. Cover the container up using plastic wrap
  3. Pole small holes in the wrap. These holes need to be big enough for the fruit flies to enter.

The sweet fragrance of the wine will attract the flies, and the combination of dish soap and wine will make it impossible for the flies to fly again once they’ve touched the solution. They’ll drown and die, and you can repeat this process until you no longer see any flies. 

4. Use rotting fruit to your advantage

If fruit flies are still bothering you, then you can create a trap using some leftovers that may already be in your kitchen. This includes any open or rotting foods that attract the flies. 

  1. Rather than throwing your spoiled food away, put it in a disposable container. 
  2. Cover the container with plastic wrap.
  3. Poke some fly-sized holes in the wrap.

The flies will swarm to the trap and climb inside to get to the food. Once they’re stuck in there, you can dispose of them however you want. Repeat this process until you don’t see any more flies in your home. 

5. Consider a Fruit Fly Zapper

Yes, there are home fruit fly zappers available! Technically they use sticky fly paper rather than the electric current common on most bug zappers, but they work well!

6. Hire an exterminator

If you’re too repulsed by the fruit flies, rotting food, or infested cat litter, then you could always hire an exterminator, though we recommend you save this as an absolute last resort. Exterminators are certainly very effective, but they can be quite expensive as well. 

What’s more, you and your pets may have unpleasant reactions to any chemicals that the exterminator uses when dealing with the flies. If you find that the flies return after an exterminator has treated your home, you should be able to get another treatment for free, or at least at a reduced cost. 

Making Sure That Fruit Flies Stay Gone

If you want to avoid another fruit fly infestation in the future, ensure that your good storage spaces are kept dry and clean. Once you have opened food or have taken a few bites of it, never leave it out anywhere. Store it in your refrigerator or your pantry. 

Also, take your garbage out regularly and clean up any spills that may be in your trash bins. After an infestation of fruit flies has started, it can take anywhere from a couple of days to several weeks for them all to be exterminated, and this can be an incredibly frustrating process. 

By being proactive and taking the necessary steps to dispose of trash and keep your home clean, you’ll save yourself so much time and effort that would otherwise be spent dealing with a nasty fruit fly infestation. 

Fruit Flies & Your Health

If left untreated, an infestation of fruit flies could become a severe annoyance. There are some who argue potential risks to your health, but really, these claims are pretty overblown.

Yes, fruit flies are infamous for flying around and picking up bacteria, which they then later deposit onto the fresh foods that they breed in. And yes, they are particularly attracted to human and animal excrement that can contain harmful viruses like E. Coli and Salmonella.

But there are no records of people getting sick from fruit flies. Could it happen? Of course. Could a meteor hit you? Yep.

If you’re looking for something to worry about, you could find some better things to give you anxiety.

Get rid of fruit flies because they are annoying pests, not because they’re going to make you ill.

Get rid of fruit flies because they are annoying pests, not because they’re going to make you ill.

Where Do Fruit Flies Come From?

While it often seems as though fruit flies appear from thin air, the truth is that they didn’t get their name for nothing! Fruit flies are drawn to fermenting vegetables and fruits and thrive on substances that are high in fructose.

Female flies lay their eggs on top of or inside of rotting, overripe, or decaying fruit. 

Fruit flies are drawn to fermenting vegetables and fruits.

The ick doesn’t stop there.

Each female can lay up to 500 eggs at a time, and if given the opportunity to hatch, a single female fruit fly can cause an entire infestation.

This is why it is so important to take action the moment you notice even just a single fruit fly in your home. 

After they have hatched, the fruit fly larva will begin to feed on their surroundings. It takes just two to three days for them to grow into full adults, after which they can begin to mate and breed themselves, furthering the infestation as their numbers multiply. 

Overall, fruit flies have quite a short life cycle. After just two days of becoming adults, fruit flies can mate and begin to lay more eggs to hatch more flies. This means that you should begin cleaning up and exterminating fruit flies the moment you notice one.

If you wait even just a day, you could see a couple of buzzing fruit flies around your bananas evolve into a full-fledged infestation that is incredibly difficult to deal with.

Preventing Litter Box Problems

If you want to avoid having to deal with litter box problems in the future, here are a few tips:

1. How many boxes should you have?

The general rule of thumb is that you should have one litter box for each pet in your home, plus an extra one. That way, none of your animals will be discouraged from doing their business in a litter box because there will always be a box available. 

Of course, you can’t designate a specific litter box for each of your cats – they’re going to use whichever box they want, whenever they want. This also means that your cat may refuse to use a litter box after another cat has recently been in it.

In this case, you will have to make sure that all of the litter boxes are as clean as possible as often as possible. 

You should also avoid positioning all the boxes in the same place. Your cats may start to think of them as one giant litter box, which could lead to some nasty competition.

Consider spreading the boxes out strategically throughout your home. 

2. Self-cleaning boxes

There is a range of different litter box types available on the market, some of which offer some exciting features. One of the more advanced options is the self-cleaning litter box, which, as the name suggests, offers convenience and automation in cleaning your cat’s litter. 

But, be warned – some cats may be quite opposed to the noise and mechanism of self-cleaning litter boxes and may not want to use them.

If your cat is already quite used to traditional litter boxes, stick to what they already know to avoid any messy accidents. 

3. Covered boxes

While covered boxes can be a great way to increase privacy and reduce the amount of litter that is sent flying from the box when your cat buries its business, there are some possible drawbacks that come with these boxes.

A litter box that is out of sight will often also be out of mind and, thus, quite easy to forget about. This can quickly cause litter to accumulate and soil the box, which can cause some pretty foul odors to become trapped inside. Neither you nor your cat is going to want to go anywhere near the box if this happens. 

Covered boxes can also be a challenge for larger cats, as they may face some difficulty turning around and positioning themselves inside.

In the end, if your cat does not like a covered box, they’re not going to use it. 

Setting Up a Litter Box the Right Way

Most people will want to place their cat’s litter box in an unobtrusive spot in the house to reduce the odor as much as possible and prevent cat litter from spreading throughout the house. However, if you decide to put the box in your basement next to a loud appliance or on a cold floor, your cat might not want to use the box.

Here are some tips for litter box placement:

  • Don’t place the box next to appliances that produce heat or that are noisy, such as washing machines or furnaces. Noise can make your cats quite anxious, while the heat from appliances can make the litter smell more potent, causing both you and your cat to be repulsed by the box. 
  • Keep your litter box in an area that not only gives you and your cat some privacy but is convenient for both of you. If the box is too challenging to get to, especially for young and old cats, then they might simply not use it.
  • If you have put the litter box in a bathroom, ensure that the bathroom door is propped open from both sides so that your cat is never locked out or trapped inside. Depending on where exactly the box is placed, you can consider cutting a hole in the door and adding a pet door instead, giving both of you more privacy in the bathroom. 
  • Ensure that the litter box is away from their water and food bowls. If you live in a multiple-story building, make sure that there is at least one litter box on each story. That way, your cat will have options in the event that its primary box becomes blocked.
  • If you have more than one cat, then consider placing litter boxes in a number of locations around the house so that your furry friends are never fighting about who gets to use which box and when. 

If you implement these tips, then your cat should have no problem getting used to using their litter box, and you’ll have an easier time maintaining the litter. 

About Cleaning

If you want to take the best care of your cat and keep those fruit flies away, then you’ll need to scoop their business out of the litter box daily.

How often you replace the actual litter will depend on the number of cats that you have, the type of litter that you use, and the number of litter boxes you have around your house. 

Generally, replacing the litter twice a week will maintain a good level of cleanliness for your litter box.

However, depending on your specific circumstances, you might have to replace the litter every second day, or perhaps even once a week. 

If you clean out the box every day, clumping litter might only need to be changed every few weeks. However, if you notice an odor, or find that a lot of the litter is clumped or wet, then that’s an immediate sign that the litter requires a change.

Remember to scrub the box down every time you change the litter – all you need is mild dish soap. Any other cleaning products with citrus oils or ammonia can be repulsive to cats. 

Remember to scrub the box down every time you change the litter – all you need is mild dish soap. Any other cleaning products with citrus oils or ammonia can be repulsive to cats. 

Certain household cleaning products are also toxic to cats, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re using products that are safe for your furry friend’s health.


If you want to keep fruit flies away from your cat’s litter box, change the litter regularly, and clean the box when you change the litter.

If you’ve done that, put the focus on your kitchen. Make sure you store all fruits and veggies that you can in the fridge, and leave all foods in sealed containers. For those fruits in the fruit bowl, regularly check them to make sure they’re not starting to get overripe. If they are, peel and freeze to use in smoothies.

Fruit flies are a common pest, but if you can catch them early before they infest everything, they’re usually not too much trouble to deal with. Good luck!