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Fighting cherry fruit flies - How to get rid of maggots in cherries

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Fresh cherries from our own tree are extremely tasty, but without maggots, please. So that these do not make the cherries inedible, there are several ways to combat them.

© feuerpferd1111 - Fotolia.com

The cherry fruit fly is a pest that spoils the cherry harvest for many amateur gardeners every year. Because if you pick cherries from the tree and bite into them heartily, you don't necessarily want to see a white worm or white maggot that meanders along the core of the cherry.

The cherry fruit fly lays its eggs in the ripening cherries. These then hatch and the maggots eat their way through the cherry to the core. The inside of the cherries becomes a brownish porridge where the maggots have been eating. Chemical agents against the cherry fruit fly are no longer permitted in domestic gardens in Germany - and this raises the question of how to get rid of the annoying flies and protect the cherry tree from the fruit fly infestation.

Cherry fruit fly - this is what it looks like

A post shared by Andreas Ochs (@ochsvomberg) on ​​Jun 15, 2015 at 12:20 pm PDT

The cherry fruit fly has similarities to the house fly. But if you take a closer look, you can quickly see the differences. With a length of around 5 mm, the cherry fruit fly comes with brownish brown banded wings, green compound eyes and a striking trapezoidal yellow back shield. In this respect you can see the cherry fruit fly in the garden.

The problem is that the number of flies is usually so large that simple control measures are often unsuccessful. If you really want to banish the cherry fruit fly from your garden, you have to use a mix of the tips and advice listed below. Because only if you combine the individual methods can you really have lasting success in fighting the cherry fruit fly.

3 methods to control the cherry fruit fly

In principle there are three ways to approach it if you want to protect your own garden from the cherry fruit fly. The following are briefly summarized:

  • The precaution already when planting cherry trees,
  • the direct control of the cherry fruit fly in old trees and
  • after picking the subsequent attempt to get rid of the maggots.

Avoid cherry fruit flies by choosing the right cherry tree

The cherry fruit fly is particularly active in late May and early June. She lays her eggs in cherries, which begin to ripen at this point - they are no longer green, but slowly change from a yellowish to a reddish color. However, there are also varieties of cherry that are largely spared from the start from cherry fruit flies. Simply because the fruits of these trees were long past this stage of ripening at the time. Early cherries are therefore significantly less susceptible to cherry fruit fly infestation than the normally blooming or late cherries. So if you want to plant a new cherry tree, it is worth thinking about planting an early cherry.

Another point is the conscious reduction in the size of the cherry tree. Be it by deliberately pruning the tree or by choosing a base in which the cherry tree grows rather weakly. In this way, the fruit trees remain longer in a size that can be easily protected against access by cherry fruit flies with an appropriate insect protection net.

Keep cherry fruit fly away from existing trees

There are different approaches. In any case, you should get enough information about the cherry fruit fly if you want to take really effective countermeasures. One of the things you should know is the fact that the cherry fruit flies that are put in the ground hatch in late May - early June and then lay their eggs in the new cherries over a period of around 14 days , This is the period in which countermeasures against the cherry fruit fly must be taken. Anyone who takes measures against the cherry fruit fly much earlier, for example in the blossom of the cherry trees, cannot be successful - simply because the animals are not there at the time.

In the following, we would like to present some options for controlling the cherry fruit fly and briefly outline the respective chances of success. Some advised measures are only suitable under certain circumstances - others can always be applied to every cherry tree.

❍ Yellow tablets as traps for the cherry fruit flies

© Henry Czauderna - Fotolia.com

The cherry fruit fly is magically attracted to the color yellow. No wonder, since she usually lays her eggs in the cherries when they shimmer yellowish to light red. If you hang so-called yellow tablets (e.g. available here) on the south side of your cherry tree during the main flight time of the cherry fruit flies, you will quickly have covered the glued areas of the yellow tablets with cherry flies. This definitely keeps a lot of the pests out of your tree - but usually not all.

Only with really small cherry trees can it be enough to hang yellow tablets in the tree and let the cherry fruit flies die on them. In the case of larger trees, yellow tablets are at best an indicator of how many cherry fruit flies are on the move this year and whether the time when these flies were already active has started. Further measures must also be taken here.

❍ Insect nets as protection against cherry fruit flies© eplisterra - Fotolia.comAnother means that is only suitable for smaller trees or for sections of a cherry tree: Protecting the fruit with the help of an appropriate net. Nets that are suitable for protection against the cherry fruit fly can be found in any hardware store with a good garden department. However, you have to make sure that the stitches are not too wide. The mesh size should not be more than 1.8 mm - in some fruit growers even nets with a mesh size of less than 1 mm are used (e.g. available here). If there are wider holes in the net, there is a risk that the cherry fruit fly will simply slip through the mesh and still lay its eggs in the cherries. The network is also a good protection against starlings.As mentioned, such a network is ideal for smaller cherry trees. With old trees, some of which exceed the height of a house and have very extensive branches, it becomes difficult to protect the entire tree top with a net. Here it is worth protecting smaller parts of the tree with such a network - the amount of cherries that hangs on the protected partial areas is often sufficient for consumption in your own household.❍ Prevent pupation with larger documents

The maggots of the cherry fruit fly either drop from the cherries that have been eaten to the ground or fall together with the cherries from the tree and then crawl into the ground. There they pupate and finally wait for the next year to then lay their eggs in the new cherries again as cherry fruit flies. If you want to make sure that as few cherry fruit flies as possible roam the home garden the following year, there is an easy way to ensure that.

You put a tarp or a fleece under the cherry tree so that all the falling cherries and all maggots that fall on the ground do not come into direct contact with the earth, but land on this broadly laid out underlay. Then you sweep at least once a day what has collected on the surface, throw maggots and fallen fruit into a transparent and securely closable garbage bag and leave it in the sun. The maggots die from the heat generated and the contents of the bag can be added to the compost after a few days.

Falling fruit and fallen maggots can be disposed of directly in the organic bin even more safely and with significantly less pain for the animals. In this way, the population of cherry fruit flies in your own garden is significantly reduced and next year it can be assumed that yellow traps are sufficient to prevent most cherries from becoming infected with the cherry fruit fly.

Fight infestation of the cherry fruit fly

Some cherry lovers are disgusted when they open a cherry and a maggot creeps through the flesh. Others say that this is a completely natural process and, in the end, a maggot infestation is a sign that no unnecessary chemicals are used in the garden. You don't want to eat the maggot of the cherry fruit fly anyway.

There are not many ways to get rid of cherries infested with maggots. Of course you can open the cherries, remove the maggot and the core and then eat the pitted cherry. But that is quite cumbersome.

Nehmen Take a water bath

© karepa - Fotolia.com The only real alternative is a water bath of cherries. When cherries are in cold water for more than ten minutes, they begin to absorb the water. When cherries soak up water, it is anything but pleasant for the maggot in the cherry - the result is that the maggot leaves the cherry. After a short time you will see a whole lot of small maggots swimming on the water surface. You can skim this off and throw it in the organic bin.

However, one must of course say that this method does not necessarily mean that all cherries are really free of worms or maggots. Some maggots are more stubborn than others and simply stay in the cherry. There is no real panacea here. But if you don't want to throw away the entire harvest, it's definitely worth a try. The success is more than 75 percent.

Conclusion:
If the cherry tree is infested with cherry fruit flies, that's not something you just have to put up with. There are many more ways to get rid of the cherry fruit fly and its maggots.

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