Papaya fruit has worms

bananafanDecember 15, 2007

I was happy with my papaya plant for constantly putting out its bloom and fruit. I just harvested a whole lot of it, but nothing is edible. It's all infected with papaya wasps maggots. Some suggest wrapping the fruit with cheesecloth, but it's not easy to do that. It will still leave some gaps in between for the wasps to get to the fruit and it also is tricky to do when the wasps start attacking the fruit at a very early stage. I have thought about covering the crown with fruit and all with a huge plastic drop cloth (like a greenhouse) over it and then secure it with a string around the mid trunk. I don't know if anyone has done it that way. Other than that, I don't know what else works. Would appreciate any help there is.

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greenclaws UKzone8a

I hear what you are saying. I too despair sometimes as why is it that whatever we try and grow there is always something that wants to come along and eat it before we can? The wasps trashed our plums, we had loads of tree climbing snails that chomped away at the apples, the ones that fell on the floor got nibbled and slimed on by slugs as big as snakes, the blackbirds stole all the cherries before they even ripened and to cap it all a pair of squirrels ate the hazlenuts. The only fruit we did manage to harvest were the pears, probably 'cos they were as hard as bullets! I give up!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2007 at 12:06PM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

I have been wondering about this too. I wonder if you made great big organza bags (like what is sold on ebay to cover seedheads to keep from losing seeds) and tied those on early in fruit development, maybe it would help?

    Bookmark   December 15, 2007 at 11:05PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

The problem with covering the whole treee is that it gets way to hot particularly with plastic. I have used paper bags tied over each fruit enlarged as it develops.
A real pain as the bags disolve during rain of course.
Jasmine ,might have a good idea. You need something that wont overheat ,pourous .
I finally gave up and feed the fruit to my birds .They love the maggots lol
I wonder what commercial growers do?? Easy to see why they are so expensive. gary

    Bookmark   December 16, 2007 at 4:45AM
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I suggest glassine bags. Glassine is a paper product which has been laminated. Anchor paper manufactures bags. not sure if they sell retail or not. You might go to a meat narket and see if you can find wax paper bags. There are also heavy waterproof paper bags which maize breeders use to cover developing ears of test-crossed plants. I forget what they're called, but your agricultural extension office might know where to get some.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2007 at 11:17AM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

I've had terrible problems with ruined Papaya fruits too, in spring/summer. The crops ripening now, and for the past few months, have all been fine-no maggots at all. I did not spray them with anything.

I never had luck bagging the fruits. They were attacked when too small to bag. But, I'm now harvesting perfect fruits, yet only the weather has changed. I planted more, to keep young, upcoming plants always available.

Papaya Wasp damage can be hit or miss. I do not allow any fruits to rot on the plant or on the ground, I wonder if that helped to reduce the population? I really do not know why the fruits are okay now.

A good, ripe, home-grown Papaya is so yummy that it is worth the effort to grow them. I'll feed bad fruits to the chickens, but I'm not sharing the flawless ones(G). I especially like them halved, with cottage cheese in the center, covered with ripe Pomegranates.

Good luck with your plants. Hopefully your next crop will be edible.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2007 at 3:01PM
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I think Lisa is on to something. When I was a child in Southwest Florida, we had wonderful papayas until the wasps discovered them. My father stopped growing them for several years and then planted them again. It was several more years before the wasps rediscovered our yard. I suspect many people stopped planting them and the wasps were able to return only when enough people decided to grow papayas again. My father never was successful with the bag method and at some point after I left home he gave up on papayas altogether.

My mother was from New Orleans and had never heard of papaya wasps until the first time they ruined the ones my father grew for her. Perhaps they could not become established in New Orleans because of the cooler winter climate. Papaya trees are a borderline plant to grow in New Orleans; they may or may not be killed by a cold snap in any given year.


    Bookmark   December 16, 2007 at 11:38PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Went out this morning and two papaya were loaded and I'm just south of you. I'm curious now as to why that would be so. Do you know the name of the insect?? I'd like to do some research on it. What does the Ag dept recommend??

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 9:37AM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

Gary, do you mean loaded with maggots? Ugh!

Mine are all perfect, and I have no real idea why, just assumed it was the drought and possibly the slightly lower night temps? In past years I lost 100% of my crop.

Bagging is recommended. But it is not a reasonable way to protect the fruits, especially on trees that are 12-18' tall!

Papaya Fruit Wasp. Nasty critter. I squish all I see, but haven't seen one in at least 6 months.

I suspect the fact that I remove all bad fruits (knock them off the trees with a broom, feed them to the chickies) and do not let any lay around, may have helped? The chickens eagerly eat the bad fruits, which kills the maggots.

I feel lucky to have such nice fruits, finally. Want to come by and I'll give you some?


Here is a link that might be useful: Papaya Fruit Wasp info

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 7:32PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)


What kind do you grow? The big Mexican types or the smaller...SA/Hawaiian? types?

I love papaya. When i was in Mexico a few years ago i probably ate my weight in papaya. Out of the 2 types locally, i prefer the big Maradol types vs. the Brazilian grown type.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2007 at 11:10PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Thanks for the offer. I don't particularly like the fruit but I think the tree is prettier than any palm .
I started growing them for my birds as they love them and prefer the maggots lol.. I'm down to 3 birds and no fruit eaters. so have been removing the fruit as it sets.
I think you're right about keeping fruiting areas clean but it's sure a tough job. I put in a central box and put fruits and debris in it and periodicly cover with soil.
Makes a great organic stew lol Thanks for the offer gary

    Bookmark   December 19, 2007 at 6:35AM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

Franktanks, I ordered all the short varieties that Aloha Seeds carried, about 4 years ago. Some have large, red elongated fruits, some have yellow fruits, some have small/medium round fruits. All the tags were lost in the hurricanes. Several of my "Dwarf" varieties are now so tall that I have to stand on a ladder and use a broom to reach the fruits.

I prefer the smaller ones for eating. One is a perfect meal!


Here is a link that might be useful: Aloha Seeds

    Bookmark   December 19, 2007 at 9:12AM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

Lisa, of course all your dwarfs are now monsters!~you have the magic touch :)

I ordered some papaya seeds from that company awhile back. They really shipped them fast in nice foil envelopes! I ordered Red Maradol, Improved Solo, and Red Lady. So far I only planted the Solo, and Red maradol. Great germination on those and seem very healthy. I have only grown the Solo and a mexican storebought variety in the past.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2007 at 4:35PM
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Thanks for all of your very helpful comments. From some semi ripen fruit that I was able to salvage in my first harvest, I made pickles out of them. Not bad at all, but I think I'm going to have to take a little break from papayas until I find some papayas that are more resistant to these crazy bugs.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2007 at 2:10PM
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I too was wondering what were those yellowish worms inside my baby papayas. If 4 of them fell on the ground too young and had worms does that mean all of the fruits still in the plant are contaminated?

5 years ago I planted the small red and very sweet Brazilian papayas and there was no worms.

I wonder how can we avoid the worms.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 8:37PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

The hurricanes took out my papaya and I didn't replant.
You might check with the ag dept or "floridata "
Or try google of "papaya wasp" gary

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 3:42AM
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Somebody told me yesterday to wrap them with ladies stockings as soon as you can see the tiny fruits , the stockings will expand as the papayas grow.

Does anybody know if my papaya tree will produce again after this time?


    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 10:14AM
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Has anyone tried the stocking method for papaya? Or wrapped them in mesh bags? Those seem like ways you could protect the fruit but not need to change them constantly like you would with paper bags. I've lost all my papaya so far to this nasty little fruit fly and I want to put a stop to it!

    Bookmark   February 16, 2014 at 7:34PM
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Shannon S. - Yes, I use stockings over my papaya & they seem to work fine. As a double protection, I also occasionally lightly brush a thin layer of "edible diatomaceous earth" over the stockinged fruits, using a soft paint brush.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 8:47PM
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Wow!!! Thanks, smallfern for posting your pic and advice!! Your papaya is huge! I will definitely try the stocking and I love the diatomaceous earth idea too. Do you use a single layer of stockings or double up? Is it a knee length one? Do you tie the end off that is by the stem? Thanks so much!!!

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 1:57AM
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Yes, I use a single layer of stockings. They are old stockings which I cut up; each leg portion into 2 sections, 1 will need simple stitching. When the fruit is about 2" I will put a stocking over it & tie loosely with a string but when it gets big enough to fill & hold the stocking I remove the string. That allows me to later easily check the color & stage of ripening.

Good luck with your papayas Shannon. :)

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 9:32AM
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