Many people report that making a sourdough starter has attracted fruit flies to their kitchen. And often that the fruit flies have taken up residence in their sourdough starter.
Fruit flies are a nuisance when you're trying to establish a sourdough starter, but they are relatively harmless.
Fruit flies are attracted to overripe or rotting produce, ferments like sourdough starter, kombucha and ginger bugs.
They tend to increase in activity in the summer months and decrease over the colder months.
This blog will tell you everything you need to know about getting rid of fruit flies and keeping them away from your sourdough starter for good.
Why Are Fruit Flies Attracted to Sourdough Starter?
Fruit flies are attracted to food sources - this can be overripe fruit, debris in your kitchen drain or your sourdough starter.
They aren't fussy.
Just like overripe or rotting fruit, your sourdough starter is fermenting and is very attractive to fruit flies.
It might seem like they come from no where, however, you'll find that they were in your house somewhere. Generally they will hang out in the kitchen drain or fruit bowl.
Once you bring a sourdough starter into the kitchen, they soon realise this is a great place to congregate.
So how do you stop fruit flies from become regular guests at your sourdough starter party?
How To Protect Your Sourdough Starter From Fruit Flies
There are a number of things you can do to protect your sourdough starter from fruit flies. These include:
- keeping the sourdough starter covered
- placing it into a second vessel
- storing it away from the kitchen
- setting up a fruit fly trap
- ensuring your kitchen is free from other food sources
Covering Your Sourdough Starter
The best way to protect your sourdough starter from fruit flies is to ensure that it's covered.
There are a few ways you can cover your sourdough starter, depending on whether you prefer to allow air into your starter or not.
Particularly if your starter is young and still maturing, it's a good idea to ensure that it is able to breathe.
Cover the starter with a coffee filter or paper towel and secure with an elastic band.
You can also use the lid of your jar, just don't screw it on too tightly.
Storing Starter Inside Something Else
To protect your sourdough starter from fruit flies still getting in, place the starter jar into the microwave or even a yoghurt maker (with the lid on).
A dough proofer like this is also a good way to store your starter away from fruit flies.
This ensures that the starter can ferment without any pesky fruit flies finding their way in.
If you really don't have anything else to place it in, try putting the jar in an oversized zip loc bag and sealing the top to ensure the fruit flies won't find it.
If your starter is mature you can store it in the fridge.
Store It Away From The Kitchen
If you can't leave your starter in the microwave or yoghurt maker, try moving it out of the kitchen.
Try keeping it in a bedroom, somewhere there are no other food sources.
Set A Fruit Fly Trap
Setting a trap for fruit flies is a good idea to try and get rid of them once and for all.
You can make a trap by pouring apple cider vinegar into a shallow dish and then pouring a layer of dish soap over the top. The fruit flies will be attracted to the vinegar but become trapped in the liquid soap.
Alternatively, these store bought traps are the bees knees when it comes to trapping fruit flies!
You can purchase these Aunt Fannie's Fly Punch Traps here.
Remove Other Food Sources
Ensure that there are no other food sources bringing the fruit flies into your kitchen.
If you want to keep overripe bananas, consider storing them in the fridge, or even freezing them for smoothies and cakes.
Make sure you wash all of the produce that comes into your home and store it away from kitchen counters.
Ensure drains are clean and free from debris which often attract fruit flies. I like to sprinkle bicarb and vinegar down my drains (followed by lots of hot water) once a week to keep them fresh and fruit fly free!
Give them no reason to visit your kitchen!
These measures will also ensure that you do not attract ants into your kitchen or to your sourdough starter.
What To Do If Fruit Flies Get Into Your Sourdough Starter
I have battled fruit flies in my sourdough starter many times. I often have Kombucha brewing and overripe bananas on my counter which means that fruit flies are just a part of life.
I've often found a few fruit flies fly out of my starter when I took the lid off (before I started keeping it inside my yoghurt maker).
It's not the end of the world and I've never thrown my starter away because of this.
I just discard a substantial amount, feed and let it ferment.
So I would take 10g of the starter and feed it with 100g of flour and 100g of water to give it a really good refresh.
I will say that if your starter has been left on your counter for a considerable amount of time and there are a considerable amount of fruit flies attacking it, you may consider ditching it as there is a risk that they have contaminated it. But if it's only a couple then it's fine to just discard and feed.
Things To Avoid
Try not to spray fly spray or insect spray if you can help it.
If you really want to use it, ensure that your sourdough starter is sealed and inside the fridge or microwave before you spray.
The last thing you want is to have the chemical spray seep into your beautiful sourdough starter!
If you found this article about fruit flies in sourdough starter helpful, you might enjoy these ideas:
- Want to avoid a moldy sourdough starter - check out these tips to prevent mold in your starter.
- Learn how to boost your starter with these 5 actionable tips to strengthen sourdough starter.
- How to store sourdough starter - including dehydrating your starter as a backup.