Preventing White Worms in Raspberries

October 18, 2015 lawanda Newspaper Columns

Imagine waking up to a stack of steaming golden pancakes or a big bowl of cereal topped with raspberries fresh from the patch. Suddenly, you notice a white squiggly thing inside one of the berries. It looks like a little worm! Looking closer, you see squigglers in all the berries. There goes breakfast! The little white worms are the larvae of fruit flies. There are many kinds of fruit flies, but determining which one ruined your breakfast isn’t important, because prevention is the same no matter who the culprit. There are several things you can do to prevent fruit flies from spoiling your raspberries. You probably know that ripe fruit attracts fruit flies, and may have experienced an indoor invasion if you’ve left fruit out on the kitchen counter. Clearing the raspberry patch of ripe fruit every single day, especially those berries that are overripe or have fallen to the ground, will deter fruit flies from arriving and breeding. You may want to pick the berries just before they become perfectly ripe. Do not compost unwanted berries, because the fruit flies will simply move their breeding ground to your compost pile. Keep the raspberries pruned and thinned so they do not become crowded. Fruit flies prefer shady, humid environments so space between the plants will make the patch less welcoming. Except for rain which is unavoidable, do not water raspberries from overhead. Use a soaker hose, drip irrigation, or simply lay your garden hose in the patch and let it run at a very low rate. Set a timer so you don’t accidentally let the hose run all night! As soon as the summer harvest is finished, remove old canes by cutting them at ground level. Trellis sprawling types to allow air to circulate. Burn the prunings instead of composting them as most compost piles do not get hot enough to kill fruit fly larvae. Shallowly cultivate the soil in your raspberry patch to expose larvae in the soil to hot sun or cold winter temperatures which they can’t survive. If you have everbearing raspberries, and fruit fly larvae has been a problem in the past, you may want to forgo the fall harvest for a few years. Fruit flies are more prevalent in late summer than they are in June. Pruning the canes to the ground immediately after the summer harvest will give the flies less of an opportunity to procreate, at your house anyway. You can make your own traps to catch fruit flies by mixing 1 T. baker’s yeast and 4 T. sugar with 12 oz. of water. Let it ferment for 24 hours. Get some old deli containers and punch holes in the tops. Fill each with about an inch of the bait and hang the traps 3-5 feet above the ground. Replace the bait every week or two.

Fruits and vegetablesGardening techniques and tools


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