Apple Maggots are tiny worms which tunnel through apples any other fruit causing damage and rot. The adult stage is a fly which is just about as large as a common house fly. Apple Maggots appear throughout much of the world and though they prefer apples, they will take advantage of just about any fruit which can be had. This article will detail some basic biology of Apple Maggots and then offer control options and treatment methods.
APPLE MAGGOT BIOLOGY
Apple Maggots are an insect which feed off the ripe fruit of many plants and trees other than just apples. Common fruit they have been known to infest includes plum, cherry, apricot, pear, pyracanth, blueberries, strawberries and just about any plant which produces a sweet full bodied fruit on which to feed. The life cycle of the Apple Maggot starts in the spring when over wintering pupa hatch out adult flies. These males and females won’t mate immediately; instead they will seek food in the form of honeydew and sap from local plants and trees. After a week or two of foraging and eating they will mate. Females will start laying eggs within a month of becoming active. The placement of eggs is generally done just under the skin of host fruit. Females will lay eggs for the rest of her life – which is the rest of the growing season – on targeted fruit which will be able to feed her young.
APPLE MAGGOT EGGS
The placement of the eggs, known as a “sting”, will damage host fruit as will the eating and tunneling young. Larva hatch in 1-2 weeks, depending on local conditions, and will feed on the host fruit till it is ripe and falls to the ground. The over ripe rotten stage of host fruit seems to be the sign for larva to exit.
APPLE MAGGOT LARVAE
Upon crawling out of host fruit larva will enter the ground and begin to change their skin to a thick pupa casement which serves them throughout the winter as their puparium. The following year these same larva will be fully developed pupa and hatch out as flying adults ready to start the cycle all over again.
APPLE MAGGOT REGIONS
Apple maggots begin their activity in early spring throughout the southern states and as late as July in the northern growing zones. However, activity has been found on so many different host plants it is best to monitor throughout the growing season to insure you don’t have any finding their way onto other types of plants. It was once thought Apple Maggots were only active in late summer/early fall as apples reached maturity but this is not longer the common belief. Due to the wide range of fruit crops on which apple maggots can feed they have become more of seasonal pest which can be active any time of the growing season as long as there are some types of host fruit on which they can feed. For this reason Apple Growers must be all the more concerned and monitoring local populations must be started much earlier in the year.
Furthermore, if you are growing any type of plant which has had activity and damage in the past, it is best to monitor local levels so that control methods can begin at first sign. This is key due to the fact that once eggs are laid there is not much that can be done to stop fruit damage. Since eggs are laid inside the fruit, liquid treatments won’t have any impact on larva which are protected by the host fruit’s skin. This is why liquid treatments should start once activity has been noted.
And since adults won’t start laying eggs for some time after they first hatch it is possible to keep their cycle in check by killing off the first hatching of adults. They’ll target host plants and trees, focusing in on these same plants and the local area could prove to be helpful in preventing large outbreaks. If you have had problems with Apple Maggots in the past, there is pretty much no doubt you will have them again.
APPLE MAGGOT PREVENTION
The key to breaking any local infestation is getting the first stages that emerge each spring. This used to be much easier to do when they were only active for short periods of time but since apple maggots have become a more urbanized pest, their increased level of activity has proved to give them a built in defense. Now the best you can hope to do is to first detect local activity and take immediate action once you know they are out and about. However, the window of opportunity for apple maggots appears to be as large as ever so therefore all treatments and monitoring programs implemented must be maintained with a new level of persistence. A month or two of pro active apple maggot control won’t do it; apple maggots are clearly a pest which can appear at different times on different plants and for this reason you need to be ready for when they make their seasonal appearance.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE YOU GET APPLE MAGGOTS
As described above, apple maggot pupa will hatch every spring even though local plants and trees may not have any adult ripe fruit on which their young can feed. Since many regions of the country have new types of plants which may develop much earlier in the growing season it is very possible for apple maggots to hatch and find something other than an apple on which to lay eggs.
APPLE MAGGOT TRAPS
If you are a serious grower or just a weekend gardener but you want to protect your plants, the first thing you need to do is place out some APPLE MAGGOT TRAPS. These are glue type traps which resemble an apple and should be hung on or around any plant you want to protect. These traps come with a powerful scent or lure which is sure to attract any adult flies which hatch looking for fruit and plants on which to feed. The round shape of the traps seem to have an impact on just how well they work.
Since apple maggot adults will be targeting fruit on which to lay their eggs it is only natural that they are attracted to it. Place these out as early as possible – certainly before bud break. Once installed, monitor them no less than twice a week looking for any trapped adults. Once you start catching them on the trap you need to consider treatment options. These decisions will depend largely on what you intend on doing with the produce as well as what stage of growth the plants are at.
Remember, apple maggots will tend to be active around plants which provided them with food the preceding year. This means they are most likely to follow the schedule of the plants you are growing. However, if there are other plants close by which generate fruit at different times of the year, it is possible that you could get adults flying much earlier than anticipated. For this reason you may have to monitor much earlier than expected as well as treat more than a month or so in the fall. It is entirely possible that early berries growing could trigger adults to hatch and start to establish themselves and if this happens you could be in for a long season of damage and disappointment. To prevent this from happening, there are several things you can do.
APPLE MAGGOT CONTROL
Treating for apple maggots is not easy. Conventional liquid sprays have not proven too effective once adults have been established since they lay eggs in the fruit. Eggs are protected so liquid treatments may impact some adults which alight on host plants but this impact is generally not enough to keep them down altogether. With the use of Maggot Traps you are now able to identify just when adults are active and since they won’t start laying eggs for another couple of weeks, you are able to attempt some liquid treatments which will prove helpful. This is due to the fact that the adults will be foraging on the host plant looking for honeydew, sap and other nutrients on the plants foliage.
APPLE MAGGOT SPRAY
Since they like to target and remain active on what will ultimately become the host plant, you can spray during this time with several different products. INSECTICIDAL SOAP is about the most gentle material which can be applied with a PUMP SPRAYER over any plant. It will kill on contact and help to keep emerging adults in check. However, it does not provide any residual, so you will have to treat every few days for a few weeks – maybe longer – depending on just how long the adults are emerging.
BEST APPLE MAGGOT SPRAY
If you want something that is going to provide you with longer residual, use some of the PERMETHRIN CONCENTRATE. This product is labeled for use on any fruit or vegetable and will last 1-2 weeks per application. When adult flies land on the plant they will die off preventing them from being able to mate and lay eggs. Since they will find all surfaces of the host plant, it is important that you treat well making sure you don’t miss any part of the foliage. This can be hard and to make such treatments easier, add some SPREADER STICKER to your tank mix. This product does two things. First, it “spreads” the treatment out so that you effectively cover a much larger area with no more effort than what is normally needed. Second, it enables you spray less since you effectively cover a lot more area without as much run off. The use of Spreader Sticker is a must when treating most plants for any pest and host plants of the Apple Maggot are no exception
APPLE MAGGOT FOGGING
If liquid treatments are not practical because you have a lot of trees to treat, use a fogger. The big advantage of using a fogger is that flies are very susceptible to small particle sized aerosol type materials. Since the apple maggot adults will be close to the host plant, such treatments will quickly get any that have hatched and feeding. Such applications are much more effective than spraying and have other benefits as well. There are many available which will do the job. Using the Permethrin Concentrate in one of these machines will prove to be both easy and effective. It will also save on the amount of chemical needed as well as the amount of time needed to do the application.
APPLE MAGGOT FOGGERS
The MINI FOGGER is ideal for small jobs up to 2500 sq/ft of surface area. The FM6309 is a much more powerful tool and will effectively treat 1/2 acre to 1 acre plots in less than 15 minutes. It has a fixed rate of chemical flow, holds one gallon of finished product and will work well for quick coverage. The FM6208 is essentially the same tool but it has variable settings so you can tune it in for either large jobs or smaller tasks as needed. It is also easier to maintain. The FM7807 is probably the Cadillac of this series since it allows for precise applications that can be directed exactly where you want it the spray to go.
If none of the machines listed above are large enough to tackle the job at hand, there are two more options which are both independently powered and portable. The BACK PACK FOGGER is gas powered, fits on the applicators back and is able to project material quite some distance with a variable rate of flow. It’s perfect for around and farm or large garden where portability is a must. It can cover acreage about as fast as you can walk. The THERMAL FOGGER is the most powerful option and will cover acres quickly and thoroughly. The use of a “hot” fog is more efficient though not needed. However, when treating large areas, the savings on both chemical and time may be worth it the investment.
APPLE MAGGOT AEROSOL
If you don’t have a need for any of these foggers because you have one or two small trees or vine plants you want to treat, use some PT-565XLO. This aerosol uses Pyrethrin as the active and will kill on contact though it won’t provide any residual. It’s handy for small jobs and is used a lot for mosquitoes and other flying pests. It will knock down apple maggots quickly.
APPLE MAGGOT DUST
For those of you that prefer a dust formulation, use some PERMETHRIN DUST. This odorless active is much better than Sevin since it will last longer and prove more active on a wider variety of pests. Apply it with a DUSTIN MIZER which enables the applicator to get the dust flowing 25-30 feet without any breeze. With a breeze you can get even higher. Dust has the advantage in that you can see just where you applied it so you less likely to miss critical areas. Though unsightly, you are able to see just where it is so that you know when it’s time to treat again. You are also more aware of where product is so that you can properly clean produce when harvested.
Follow these treatment schedules throughout the growing season once apple maggots are active and you should be able to minimize damage this persistent pest can do. Be sure to install monitoring traps so that you are aware of just when adults start to fly and once they do, decide which of the treatment options is right for you. Though they tend to be active on and around plants that have had them in the past, it is not impossible to minimize and just about eliminate any one population. Furthermore, once you have them under control, you can expect to have a more bountiful harvest with less damage and loss. Stick with the program and both you and your plants will have more productive growing seasons immediately and in the years to come.