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If you find worms in your self-harvested cherries, the disgust is great. The crawling juveniles of the cherry fruit fly (Rhagoletis cerasi) can be gotten rid of effectively and thoroughly with the right methods.

water bath

In most cases, an infestation with maggots is only recognized when the fruit is pitted. The small larvae are immediately recognizable by their white colour, which can appear slightly transparent in the flesh. Many lose their appetite when the infested interior is seen. Fortunately, there is a method that you can use to rid the cherries of the larvae. For this you need:

  • deep bowl or bowl
  • Gloves or fine-mesh sieve

With this method, the worms are expelled from the fruit without you having to collect them from the pulp. This works as follows:

  • Fill bowl with water
  • water must be cold
  • Pour the fruit into the bowl
  • Waiting time: 30 minutes

During the waiting time, the fly larvae will crawl out of the fruit as it swells and absorbs moisture. The larvae threaten to suffocate and swim up from the cherry fruits to the surface of the water in search of air. From this point on, you can collect the worms using either a sieve or gloves. Don't be surprised: Rarely do a few maggots remain in the fruit that don't flee or die in the flesh.

Notice: If you don't mind eating fly larvae, you can eat the fruit along with the uninvited guests. They do not pose a health hazard and do not alter the aroma, making extra effort unnecessary.


There is a second method you can use to remove the fly larvae from the cherries. They can be removed with a small knife if you have previously cut the fruit open. However, because the animals are deep and all over the fruit, this method can take a long time if you have a large batch of fruit to prepare. For this reason, the water method is preferred.

Remove maggot from a cherry

Prevent maggots: 7 methods

Maggots in cherries appear every year if you do nothing about them. It is important to prevent an infestation, otherwise you would have to remove the pests from the fruit after each harvest. In addition, part of the harvest can be lost due to the cherry fruit fly and its brood. Prevention is therefore just as worthwhile. There are a few methods you can use to prevent the infestation.

Early maturing varieties

A typical cause of cherry fruit fly infestation is late harvest. Especially if this is delayed, the insects have an extensive period of time in which to establish themselves. Above all, varieties that are still light in color from the end of May to the beginning of June and are not ripe are selected. Early ripening cherry varieties are recommended for this reason. For example, the following are suitable for the home garden:

  • Bernhard Nette
  • Burlat
  • Earlise
  • Earliest of Mark
  • geisepitter
  • Kassin's Early Heart Cherry
  • Teickner's black heart cherry

They ripen in the first one to three cherry weeks and are therefore usually worm-free. A good alternative to the other varieties.

Tip: You should also make sure that varieties with yellow or orange fruits are either protected more or not planted at all. The flies are focused on yellow fruits, which can be avoided by using varieties that do not have this coloration.

barrier tarpaulin

To prevent the worms from pupating, you should stretch a tarpaulin under the crown. Choose a transparent tarpaulin so that there is no lack of light for the plants under the cherry trees. Above all, the grass dies without a light source. The trunk is important when cutting the tarpaulin. The tarp should fit snugly against the trunk to prevent the worms from moving from the trunk to the ground where they pupate. The tarpaulin can be used throughout the season to reduce infestation next year.

protective nets

In addition to the tarpaulins, you can use protective nets, such as those used in orchards, to prevent the cherry fruit flies from laying their eggs. Since the nets are particularly fine-meshed, the flies cannot get to the cherries, which in turn protects against maggots. When choosing a network, you should therefore make sure that you purchase a suitable one. In addition, the use of the nets is not really suitable for large cherry trees.

Use mulch

Mulch is a good way to keep worms from pupating. The mulch material lies as a thick layer on the soil under the cherries and ensures that the soil is not accessible to the larvae. It is important that you choose a mulch made up of coarse pieces. In this way, the effectiveness of the mulch layer is increased, which means that the maggots end their pupal stage much later than usual and no longer find any fruit suitable for laying eggs.

Notice: As an alternative to mulching, avoid mowing lawns and grassy areas under your cherry trees. The grass prevents the maggots from entering the soil and pupating.

Remove organic material

These include fallen fruit and fruit mummies that appear throughout the season. The reason: the worms get into the soil via these if they have the opportunity. So collect them as soon as possible. It is important that you dispose of them in the residual waste, burn them or bury them at least 20 centimeters deep. This will prevent the pupae from hatching or adult specimens from surfacing. That doesn't work on the compost.

Use yellow boards

A weakness of adult cherry fruit flies is yellow. The color has a high attraction to the animals, which you should take advantage of. Yellow boards are hung directly in the tree crown when the fruits are still dressed in a green hue. The flies are attracted to the panels and stick, significantly reducing the number of worms in the cherries due to the lack of oviposition. This method is also suitable for finding out the size of the population in your garden.

settle predators

Predators are also excellent for prevention. Of course you can buy parasitic wasps for each new season and use them in the garden, but it is still a good idea to prepare the garden for appropriate predators. Ichneumon wasps also feel comfortable in these. Natural gardens or wild corners where birds and other insects feel at home are particularly recommended. The following are particularly worth mentioning:

  • Common swifts eat adult cherry fruit flies
  • Swallows eat adult cherry fruit flies
  • Spiders consume the maggots
  • Ground beetles eat the maggots

You can use chickens or ducks against the specimens that have pupated in the ground, if possible. The birds are really hungry for the pupae.

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