Our first thought was fruit flies, but the usual remedies (apple cider vinegar with a dash of Dawn, or a small bit of red wine in a glass) that worked this summer weren't cutting it, and on closer inspection, these guys seem a bit bigger than fruit flies. But they definitely loved all the cookies and leftovers we had around over the holidays, sneaking in under plastic wrap to get at the goodies. So first step - remove all food from the counters, close the bread bin, thoroughly clean counters, sink and floor.
Still flies. Still centred in the kitchen, with seemingly more each day. Drain flies maybe? I scrubbed and disinfected under the sink and cleaned the drain with lots of vinegar and baking soda. I ran a cleaning cycle through the dishwasher and cleaned the filter. And that seemed to help for a bit, but when we came back from vacation they were worse than ever. (Now that I think of it, my kitchen sounds super clean after all that. Good for me!)
How I feel right about now ...
What did I just do? Well, since you asked, I just spent the last 20 minutes chasing flies around my kitchen and dining room, hunting them with a hand vacuum. Yep. I did indeed. A whole new level of crazy, but fairly effective if I do say so myself. And totally satisfying. I collected a surprising number of the little pests and then clogged the vacuum hose with a paper towel so any survivors can't escape.
The vacuum is sitting on the counter ready for the next assault, once the flies feel safe enough to pitch again.
Meanwhile, I've done a little research online and am pretty confident these are in fact drain flies breeding in our pipes. There's a detailed account of how to rid yourself of a drain fly infestation here. I don't have a plumber's snake to hand, but am happy that my vinegar and baking soda treatment was on the right track.
The basic steps:
1. Dry your drain and partially tape over the opening overnight. Check in morning to see if flies are stuck to the underside - confirms they are coming up from the drain.
2. Physically remove grime/organic build-up in the pipes (plumber's snake, metal pipe brush, remove hair from shower drain, etc.)
3. Chemically clean pipes with drain cleaner/vinegar and baking soda.
Once your pipes are clean, the drain flies have lost their breeding ground. You'll still have adults around to deal with for a couple of weeks, but at least there'll be no new ones. The site I referenced suggests a fly swatter, which is probably fine. But I think I like my vacuum solution. I'll stick with that one.
Now, I'm off to up my game and pull out the big guns - chemical drain cleaner. Judge or curse me if you must. I've tried the gentle way, and now it's time for Plan B.