Currant worms

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetable Gardening' started by toddj, Jul 7, 2004.

  1. toddj

    toddj Member

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    Hi,

    I suspect we should probably have a new sub-forum for BERRIES under this topic, but we don't, so just picture a large black currant 'tree'. :-)

    Seriously though, a question for the berry scientists: When I harvested my black currants a few weeks ago, I discovered that many of them were infested with small pure white worms that resembled raw white rice. The worms were about half the size of a grain of raw rice. I harvested about 5 cups of currants and within an hour had over a hundred worms in the bottom of the container. They escaped from tiny holes in the currants.

    I noticed that the bush had a lot of tiny white flying bugs on it. When I touched the bush (tree, sorry) the air filled with tiny white specks (the flying bugs). The leaves at the tips of each branch are kind of shrivelled, but I cannot see any obvious insects or webs, I'm not sure I should assume these two pests are related, but it's worth mentioning both.

    So, what are these worms? And more importantly how can I prevent them from setting up shop next year? Is there a plague of locusts I can unleash on this plague of locusts? I prefer to act environmentally responsibly if possible, but I like my homemade currant concoctions and cannot be held responsible for my actions if deprived of this for too many years. :-)

    Cheers,

    Todd Johnson, North Vancouver, B.C. Canada
     
  2. HortLine

    HortLine Active Member 10 Years

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    Todd,

    It sounds like your currants are home to the currant fruit fly, or gooseberry maggot, Epochra canadensis. The adult flies are about 1/4cm long, yellow to orange in color, and have dark bands across the wings. In the spring, female flies lay eggs just under the skin of developing currant or gooseberry fruit. Hatching maggots burrow under the skin and feed in the berries. Infested berries turn reddish and may drop, sometimes causing severe fruit loss. The mature white maggots are about 1/2cm long and tapered at the head. They drop from the fruit to the soil, where they overwinter as small, brownish, pupae about the size of wheat grains. Adult fruit flies typically emerge in mid- to late April and May.

    Uninfested plants can be covered with a floating row cover during adult emergence in April; however, as with your case, this technique will be ineffective on previously infected plants unless the infestation has been eradicated. There are no effective insect predators or chemical products to deal with this pest.

    A plastic sheet can be placed under the currant bushes prior to fruit drop in order to prevent maggots from infested berries from getting into the soil to overwinter. The fallen berries will need to be collected daily and disposed of in the garbage, not the compost. Good luck!
     
  3. toddj

    toddj Member

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    ughh, that sucks.

    Well, thanks for the impressively detailed report. I'm bummed.

    Thanks again though.

    - Todd
     
  4. What if I put chickens around the currant bushes to eat the currant fruit fly pupae? I think it would work. The chickens eat everything!
     
  5. douglas

    douglas Active Member 10 Years

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    Including the currents;)
     

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