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How to get worms from cherries, are the maggots dangerous and how to prevent them?

Cherries are one of those fruits that many look forward to every year. And since the season is also of relatively short duration, it is all the more annoying when the long-awaited fruit has problems. One of them is the cherry maggots. Some people do not even suspect their presence and eat them, because they hide inside the fruit. Only a small hole on the outside gives an indication that they are there. However, if you separate the two halves of the cherry, you may lose your appetite. Today we would like to answer some questions regarding this. How do worms get into cherries and is it bad to eat cherries with worms? Can you do anything preventively and, if it is already too late, how can you get worms from cherries?

How the maggots get into the fruit

Getting worms from cherries - How the maggots get into the fruit

One of the big questions is “How do worms get into cherries?”. Of course, these didn’t develop out of thin air. They come from the so-called cherry fruit fly, which lays its eggs on the still unripe fruit. After only a few days, the maggots hatch and then crawl into the interior of the cherry, where plenty of food is provided. After about 3 weeks, before they pupate, they migrate into the soil for this purpose and overwinter there. Then, in late spring, the flies develop and the process starts all over again.

Getting worms from cherries - The cherry fruit fly lays its eggs on the cherry

Nature can only have a limited effect on cherry maggots, with heavy rainfall preventing the cherry flies from flying. Low temperatures, in turn, interfere with their reproduction.

Are the worms in cherries dangerous?

Are worms in cherries dangerous? If you do accidentally eat maggots in cherries, there is no need to panic. They will not harm your health. So you can rest assured that the maggots will not harm you if you do accidentally eat them. Nevertheless, of course, hardly anyone would like that. Therefore, you can remove the worms from the cherries before eating them. But what can you do about worms in cherries?

Get worms from cherries with a water bath.

How to get the worms out of cherries?

Probably the most effective method by which you can get worms from cherries is by using water. More precisely, you need to put the cherries in water, so you prepare a water bath. Be sure to use a container that is large enough so that there is enough space between the fruit and the surface of the water. So you immerse the cherries in water against worms, but how long do they have to stay in it?

It takes about 10 minutes for the water to get into the fruit. Of course, the cherry maggots then can no longer breathe and crawl out. But to be sure and really remove all the maggots from the cherries, you can wait up to half an hour. Then you will see many worms floating on the surface of the water, which you can now skim off or pour through a sieve and dispose of.

Alternatively, you can cut open the fruit and remove the maggots by hand. This is more laborious, but a good option if you plan to pit and process the cherries anyway.

Preventive measures for your own garden

Getting worms from cherries - Are the cherry maggots harmful to your health?

For cherries without worms, you can do something preventive. But what are suitable means against worms in cherries? Does it always have to be chemical or can natural remedies be used to address the potential problem and guarantee an organic quality harvest?

Maggots crawl inside from the unripe fruit

The good news is: you do not need to spray your cherries against worms. Here’s what you can do instead:

  • Nematodes against cherry fruit flies – They eat the larvae before you can pupate. However, they need to be used a few times to be effective. Other natural enemies that you can encourage are ichneumon wasps, ground beetles and spiders, while chickens, for example, nibble the pupae from the ground and swallows the flies.
  • Do not allow the grubs to migrate into the soil to prevent pupation and reduce the infestation next year. For this purpose, you can stretch a film around the tree (also attach it well to the trunk). But even better is a transparent fleece, so that the lawn underneath continues to get enough light.

Mulch the ground around the cherry tree to prevent the pupae from hatching

  • The right time to harvest – if you harvest the fruit a little earlier, the cherry worms will not be able to crawl into the ground and overwinter. They will interrupt your life cycle.
  • Pick up and dispose of fruit that has fallen to the ground immediately to control cherry maggots.
  • Delay fly hatching by either mulching the area around the tree or waiting an extended period of time before mowing for the first time. As a result, the ground warms up later and the pupae remain there for a longer time. By the time they hatch, the fruit is already red and the cherry fruit flies can no longer find nesting sites.

Yellow boards attract the flies, which stick to them and can't lay their eggs

  • Hang yellow boards to which the flies stick. Perform this method as early as May, when the cherries are still green.
  • Early cherry varieties are naturally protected against maggot infestation, as they turn red before the cherry fly nesting season begins.

If the preventive measures have no effect or are not feasible for any reason, spraying still remains. However, keep in mind that this will also harm all the beneficial insects in your garden and nature in general and should really only be used in extreme cases.

Preventing cherry maggots by simple means without chemicals