Hey! There's White Maggots in Blackberries I Picked!

summerstar(Z7VA)July 28, 2013

My husband and I picked six quarts of organically grown blackberries yesterday. I finished making the freezer jam. Then took the remaining blackberries out of the refrigerator to put into freezer bags. It was then that I found small round white worms on them. Lots of them on most of the berries. They must have been inside. It's frustrating because I spent so much time and $$$ on them.

I didn't use my food processor and just mashed the berries by hand. They're probably floating in the jam. Wouldn't that be appetizing.

Can someone tell me how to treat fresh picked berries to get rid of worms. I never heard about soaking them and the grower didn't suggest it. A few people suggested using a saline water bath, but didn't know the accurate salt to water ratio or how long to soak? I would expect you'd need to rinse them too.

Some people don't seem to care about eating the worms, but I sure the heck would like to avoid it and get rid of as many of as possible. I'd greatly appreciate anyone here replying back with the salt to water ratio and soak time. And pleeezzze, no lectures about how much dirt, bugs, and worms I've unknowing eaten in my life time.

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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

I don't think you can get rid of the fruit worms, they are in the fruit,..it just happen that some crawled out, you have picked the berries with worms in it, over time the worms, [larvae] grow larger,.. just process the fruit right away.

If you really want to make sure next time,... cut some fruits open and see if something moves inside, take a magnifying glass along. Looks like you really picked organic.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 9:33PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Sounds like your berries have Spotted Wing Drosophila, abbreviated SWD.

SWD is fruit fly very similar to the pesky fruit flies which fly around you bowl of faruits. But SWD are different thatn their nuisance relatives in that they attack fruits while they are ripening on the plant.

Might want to chek the page http://www.virginiafruit.ento.vt.edu/SWD.html

Here is a link that might be useful: SWD in Virginia

This post was edited by jean001a on Sun, Jul 28, 13 at 22:48

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 10:46PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

a descriptive sheet from MSU
http://www.ipm.msu.edu/uploads/files/E-3140.pdf
If you make the traps, know that in Oregon, the yellow sticky cards are no longer considered useful.

Best bait is apple cider vinegar or white wine.

And here's info from Oregon
http://spottedwing.org/node/5334/398?tid[]=443&tid_1[]=423

Here is a link that might be useful: info re SWD from ORegon State University

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 10:56PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

More helpful info on the search page at MSU
http://www.ipm.msu.edu/pages/search_results?query=swd+identification

Here is a link that might be useful: SWD at MSU

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 10:59PM
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larry_gene

A blackberry infected with these fruit flies will typically have a punctured drupelets and will emit some juice when handling. Often the stem end of the berry softens earlier and a fly larva can be seen in the top of the berry where the stem was attached.

There may be some salt water recipe/timing info in the above links. It is the standard test for berries to see is fly larvae are present.

Some farmer's markets out here post a warning that various fruit may be infested. If the place you used did not post a notice, I would think a refund is due, if you still have any evidence around.

Freezing the berries will drive most of the larger larva to the surface of the berry where they can be brushed / rinsed off before thawing.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2013 at 11:52PM
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hannah9880(5b)

You could try this: place berries in ice water to which salt has been added. Wormy berries should fall to the bottom. You can then scoop off the berries on the top. I did this with red raspberries last season --don't know if this will work for blackberries.

Ice water (two trays of ice cubes) and salt is my standard procedure for outting the critters. Works for broccoli and leafy vegetables too.

SWD is a new, horrible invader of berries here in Michigan. Sigh.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 8:42AM
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mrsg47(7)

This means you're throwing out all of the jam? Will the cooked larvae hurt you?

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 10:35AM
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summerstar(Z7VA)

I'm going to talk to the growers of these berries and ask for a refund. They have a winery and blackberry farm a mile or so from our house.

There was one suggestion here to scrape off the maggots after I take them out of the freezer because "Freezing the berries will drive most of the larger larva to the surface of the berry where they can be brushed / rinsed off before thawing." It sounds like a reasonable idea, but I don't have the stomach to eat jam that has had maggots swimming in it. I doubt if my husband will either.

I wanted to give away some of the jam as a gift. Some gift that would make. I took a good look at all the jam jars and I can clearly see little white things about the size of a piece of rice distributed all through the jam. Yick! Yes, all 12 jars of jam are going to get tossed out. And I'll throw out four quarts of frozen berries. I wish I had a tougher attitude about it, but it's plain gross to think about eating them.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 12:56PM
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mrsg47(7)

Oh summerstar, that is truly horrible, you deserve a refund and the 'pick your own' farm gets a jar of blackberry jam! Disgusting. Sorry about that.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 1:53PM
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tcstoehr

You wanted organic. I don't know if there's an organic way to control these guys. My neighbor puts out the vinegar traps and traps a lot, but there's still plenty in the berries. I assume mine are the same. I just scarf 'em down without worrying about it. The berries seem fine in every respect.
[gratuitous protein jokes deleted]

    Bookmark   July 29, 2013 at 1:55PM
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larry_gene

There are organic-approved sprays, such as Spinosad, for commercial and home use.

Vinegar traps do work well, but I wonder if they attract more flies to the berry patch than they kill.

Most jelly-making processes use a fine mesh for filtering, and this will keep the larva out of the finished product, although it is an extra step and not as easy as making jam.

Making puree or juice using a slow-speed auger-type juicer also removes larva from the finished product.

All of this maggot talk also applies to cherries and blueberries in many regions.

And in my berry patch, an infestation of fruit flies is quite obvious, as it would be in a U-pick field, unless the picking were done in very cool temperatures.

This post was edited by larry_gene on Tue, Jul 30, 13 at 0:55

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 12:52AM
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mrsg47(7)

How does a low speed auger remove larvae? are the bodies of these worms hard enough not to just smush?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 9:54AM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

As I understand it, the auger keeps most solids behind,..you'll harvest some worm juice.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 9:25PM
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larry_gene

With the right settings and aperture parts, anything remotely solid / smallish gets ejected. Two-thirds of the berry mass passes through, only one-third (juice) is kept. The device merely mushes the berries, rather than the fine high-speed cutting done by other types of juicers. Note that summerstar's hand-mashed jelly kept the worms intact. And I don't expect the auger process to be perfect.
----------------------------

There was a posting in another thread of commercial fields being sprayed for flies while pickers were close by. So adult flies might be suppressed and not noticeable in that case; any lapse in the spraying program would result in wormy berries. It looks like summerstar ran into quite an infestation.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 11:29PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

larry_gene,

Making puree or juice using a slow-speed auger-type juicer

What brand of juicer are you talking about?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 11:53PM
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summerstar(Z7VA)

Well folks I made a trip back to the berry farm and received a refund which was some consolation. I was surprised the owner told me they hadn't checked the area where HD and I picked.

I gave them the information about the organic "Spinosad" spray and a link to this posting. The owner told me that "berry picking isn't that large a part of their business". That comment tells me they aren't interested into even investigating or verifying the problem.

They also make blackberry wine so any worms will find their way their product. I got the distinct impression they didn't give a hoot about the matter. I won't return to this farm.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 3:17PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

I'm sad for your wasted effort but at least you realized before someone else opened your homemade jam. (And just forget about even thinking of picking them out, ugh!!!)

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 4:34PM
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larry_gene

milehighgirl, Omega brand juicer, and there are others.

Glad that summerstar got a refund.

Perhaps the wine will be sold as "Blackberry Mezcal".

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 11:22PM
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mrsg47(7)

Summerstar. And. . . tell all of your friends where NOT to pick blackberries. Lack of customers just might change his mind and he just might to spray. Glad you got a refund. I make jam and it takes hours. Can you grow your own blackberries?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 7:04PM
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2ajsmama

Uh-oh, I checked on our wild blackberries today, more ripening in the shade so they're not dried up like the ones in sun (it's been dry all of July after monsoons in June). I saw lots of tiny "fruit flies" around a few. Will duct tape work on capturing some so I can look under a microscope to see if this is the SWD?

It's 1/4 mile from my house, Killarney raspberries are done, Encore almost done but I have a primocane fruiting variety just flowering now and my Triple Crown are just ripening. Should I cover the TC with old sheer curtains (currently on the blueberries to protect from birds, but they're almost done)?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 12:18AM
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larry_gene

Looking through a microscope is fun, but not needed to identify SWD. These are caramel-colored and a little larger than many of the darkish fruit flies that feed on spoiled fruit. The key feature is one dark spot on each male forewing--easily seen by the naked eye. Females have no spot.

I don't think they are attracted to sticky tapes; easily trapped by putting 1/8 - 3/16"holes in a small enclosed plastic container and fill partially with apple cider vinegar, regular vinegar likely works too. Place the trap in a shaded area of the berry patch near ripe fruit.

The curtain thing might work if done very securely. After all, they get into the small holes of the vinegar trap.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2013 at 11:19PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

According to university research trials, regular vinegar is a far less attractive bait than cider vinegar.

Can also use white wine.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 1:09AM
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2ajsmama

Thanks - I did a lot of reading that night and yesterday, looks like sugar/yeast/water trap might be more attractive than cider vinegar, so I'm going to try that. Should have made the traps yesterday when it was sunny but I went to store for some groceries and also looked for drink cups with lids - no luck. So I'll use what clear plastic deli containers I have (I have lots of quart yogurt containers but would have to get some red on them to be attractive?).

Also contacted state lab to see if any had been reported here this year, I heard they were later last year.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 8:26AM
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summerstar(Z7VA)

HEY Larry Gene!!

Will the apple cider vinegar/or regular vinegar poured into a small plastic container with the specified size holes work for regular fruit flies?! Every summer the annoying little pests are in my kitchen. I've been spending $8-$9 for fruit fly traps and think they're really overpriced! Please post back.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 3:32PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

I've put up plastic bags and punch a bunch of small holes into
it, put left over fruit in, like banana peels apple etc. works very good.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2013 at 4:33PM
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larry_gene

No need for the color red on a trap.

summerstar, Jean's research showed apple cider vinegar to be more potent for this purpose. It would certainly work well in the kitchen, as long as you don't mind a slight scent of vinegar there. The other trap ingredient is liquid unscented soap, a few drops on the vinegar and the flies drown because the vinegar surface tension is broken by the soap.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 12:39AM
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Jimsta2134

Yesterday my son ran into my room telling me that he found a small white worm thing while he got out of the shower is that a maggot or not and can maggots go into live human bodies? cause im kind of getting scared and i dont know what to do!

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 11:48PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Don't be scared,..it doesn't happen.

Can you show us a picture?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 12:42AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I'm in the medical field. We still at times still use fly maggots. They are great! They only eat dead tissue! Very safe! Used to remove gangrenous tissue on bad wounds that keep getting infected. Well it's rare to see, but a great method. I bet the worm/larvae dropped on him from a tree. Do you have a lot of trees around?
Konrad is right, it's not a big deal.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 6:45AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

Jimsta,

I'm a little unclear what you mean in your post. Drew and Konrad are correct. The type of larva which affect fruits would be completely destroyed by stomach acid.

However, if you suspect the larva "came out" of your son while in the shower, he may well have an internal parasite. In that case, you would want to have him checked.

Again fruit worms are harmless to humans, but if a worm came from inside your son, it would be a parasitic worm and you'd want to have him checked out.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 1:35PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Jimsta2134,

I have occasionally found little white maggots in my house too. In my case they are the larvae of Indian Meal moths. I put traps up but occasionally they will still breed. They can put an egg in the smallest of places such as behind a crack in a cabinet or even in the corner of a room up against a ceiling.

I now keep all my nuts and seeds in the freezer and I deep freeze sealed containers of flour for a couple of weeks (probably over-kill) so that any eggs are killed. I have brought home eggs in sealed containers and they will live for several generations that way.

If you have moths flying around or weevils in your food this may be the source of the maggot.

Here is a link that might be useful: Indian Meal Moth

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 1:59PM
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designer308

Can you spray for them? Mine are just turning black. I saw something like fruit flys buzzing around.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 11:31PM
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