How to Control Apple Maggots in Your Orchard

If you have an orchard or even a single apple tree, chances are that you've already encountered apple maggots. These troublesome pests lay eggs under the fruit skin, causing small depressions over the surface of the apples. Inside the fruit, the eggs hatch into white maggots that cause damage as they feed. Fruit that is severely infected becomes mushy and drops off prematurely, causing e a severe decline in crop quality and yields. Fortunately, there are ways to control and prevent apple maggots in your orchard.

Plastic Bags

Once the apples grow to ¾ inch in diameter, you can dress them with protective plastic bags. Individually bag each fruit in the spring and keep covered until just before harvest. They will effectively keep away maggot flies and other insect pests. Bags also help to reduce the incidence of other diseases and protect the fruit from insecticides.

Sticky Traps

Traps allow you to monitor the activity of the apple maggot flies so you can determine, with greater accuracy, when to begin your insecticide program. Firmly attach the yellow traps throughout your trees so so that they do not swing too much in the wind. Prune the dense foliage around the trap to enable better capture. The flies are attracted by the bright yellow color and get stuck on the sticky substance applied on the cards. Alternatively, you can use bright red traps that are shaped like apples.

Apply some fruit essences onto the traps to lure the flies and boost trapping efficacy. Inspect the traps daily for flies that have been captured. You will need to replace the traps every couple of weeks once they lose their tackiness.

Clay Products

Clay forms a protective barrier and disguises the apples from pests. The clay—especially kaolin clay—irritates the insects, which will then avoid the treated trees. Use a spraying device to apply a film of clay over the entire tree before the flies become active. It is best to begin application in mid-summer and extend through the fall. Re-apply the clay every 1 or 2 weeks. Cease application once fly activity reduces.

Spraying with Insecticide

A successful insecticide program must be timed to coincide with the activity of the adult flies. They are usually most active from late summer to mid-fall. It is best to spray the apples within 7 days of capture of the first maggot fly. Re-apply the spray every week or two, up until just before the harvest. If you experience rainy weather, apply the insecticide more frequently. Once the traps cease to capture any more adult flies, you need not apply insecticide.