Nothing puts a damper on trick-or-treating like stepping around a mushy pumpkin and being swarmed by a hoard of fruit flies while you’re at it. Keep your jack o’ lantern on point through the spooky season with these tips:

  1. Pick the right pumpkin. Just like thumping watermelons yields the best summer barbecue slices, paying attention to your gourds pays off come carving time. Find a pumpkin (or seven) that will last by looking for smooth, undented skin and even color — and be sure to pass by any pumpkins with soft spots that signal the rotting is already underway. P.S. Picking a pumpkin from a nearby farm isn’t just a great fall photo op! Local pumpkins are likely fresher than gourds that have travelled far and wide to get to the supermarket, picking up dents and blemishes along the way.
  2. Don’t skimp on scraping. Those pumpkin guts don’t just attract tiny hands looking for a good squish! The moisture of pumpkin pulp and seeds is also a magnet for bacteria and fruit flies (more about them later). Really spend time removing those stringy bits and globs of pumpkin goo and you’ll be rewarded with a longer-lasting creation.
  3. Break out the Bronners. A spritz with diluted peppermint castile soap (about a tablespoon per four cups of water in a clean spray bottle) will work wonders on the inside of your pumpkin, thanks to the antifungal properties of peppermint. Is there anything that soap can’t do?!
  4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate—and enlist the refrigerator. If your fridge isn’t already filled with orange-and-black brownies and severed fingers, you can seriously extend the lifespan of your carved masterpieces by giving an extra spritz of your peppermint mixture, wrapping them in a plastic bag, and storing your gourds in the fridge overnight instead of leaving them outside. Hydration is your pumpkin’s best friend, so if you can go the extra mile and soak your pumpkins in water overnight, you’ll be rewarded with the freshest jack-o-lanterns on the block!
  5. Prevent swarms of fruit flies with Aunt Fannie’s FlyPunch! Your fright-faced pumpkin is guarding your porch, but what’s guarding your pumpkin?! Like any other fresh produce in your home, real pumpkins attract real fruit flies that are a real bother, but you don’t have to settle for a swarm of bugs on Halloween. All you need to do is set out a FlyPunch! fruit fly trap to tackle those pests. Hop to it—your pumpkins will thank you.

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