We’ve put together this video for a quick how-to on protecting your harvest from the Apple Maggot Fly.
For those hungry for info, please see below for more details about this insect.
Washington is a veritable apple country, that may be why the Apple Maggot fly went from being spotted in 2 counties in the 1980’s, to spreading to 20 counties total. This is largely due to infested fruit being moved around by people. In Washington, there are quarantine restrictions regulating this invasive species. If you don’t mind sharing your fruit, or if these flies are native to your area, you may want to leave them be - more power to you! But as a home gardener, if you’re wondering what you can do to prevent the Apple Maggot Fly from infesting your apples & gobbling them up before you do, read on.
The adult version of the Apple Maggot Fly isn’t what’s eating your apples.
In the early summer the adults begin to emerge from the soil. They often leave and feed outside the orchard, in woody/bushy areas. We recommend using a sticky trap, like the one in our video, to detect if the adults are in your area. These traps are also handy to identify other possible critters that may be snacking on your plants. These traps can be found at local nurseries, or you can even make your own. It just needs to be bright yellow with a red dot in the middle, and to make it sticky.
After the adults leave and feed, they come back and lay eggs just under the skin of the apples. Each female can lay hundreds of eggs, then these hungry babies turn your crisp apples to applesauce. The larvae are very small and difficult to see, but the fruit will appear dimpled. When the apples drop to the ground, the larvae transform into pupae and overwinter in the soil. The next year, the cycle begins again. To prevent the adults from turning your fruit crop into their nursery, we recommend spraying the fruit with kaolin clay. This not only discourages the apple maggot fly from laying future generations in your apples, but any other unwanted guests. The clay acts as a visual and physical repellent to insects. When you’re ready to eat your apples, the clay washes right off!
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