Insects that Attack Fruits and Flowers

Insects that attack fruits and flowers are some of the most hated of garden pests. They strip away the beauty and the edible parts of plants. It is sad to see apples riddled with worm holes or cherries harboring fly maggots. The insects practicing these depredations are many and varied.

Stink bugs or shield bugs, also known as pentatomoidea, come in both green and brown colors. They have a gland between their first and second pair of legs that can excrete a fluid that is foul smelling that deters predators. They attack a variety of plants, making fruits and berries inedible to humans. They hibernate in winter, and often invade homes as a place to shelter from the cold. Introducing predators like tachinid flies will help control these pests.

Curculios are snout beetles. They chew into the developing fruits of apples, pears and similar fruits in order to feed and lay eggs. The larvae of curculios develop inside the fruit. Curculios can be controlled by picking up and disposing of dropped fruit on a daily basis. There are varieties of plants resistant to attack such as the Liberty apple. An organic product called Surround, which is made from a nontoxic kaolin clay can effectively protect young fruit.

Thrips are a very tiny insect (about 1/16th of an inch or 1.25 mm). They have fringed wings and are usually yellowish-brown to amber. They will attack fruits, flowers, and foliage by making cuts in the plant's surface and then sucking on the exuding sap. They can spread tomato diseases like the tomato spotted wilt virus. Remove attacked portions of plants and dispose of them.

Codling Moth

Codling moths are a brownish-grey moth with a wingspan of about 3/4 inches (or about 17 mm). They lay eggs inside of fruits. In apples the larvae eat right into the core of the apple to get at the seeds, which provide the most protein, leaving large areas of the apple spoiled and inedible. Because the larvae is often protected within fruits, codling moths are difficult to organically control.

Fly maggots get to be about 1/4-inch long and are often found eating out the inside fruit. They will also feed on debris and decaying animals. Bottle flies attack cherries, apples and other fruits by puncturing the skin and laying their eggs. The maggots are larvae of flies. They burrow into the fruit as they grow and develop. Control is difficult because fruit itself protects the maggot. Best organic control is preventive. Harvest all infested fruit before the creatures can emerge and begin yet another life cycle. Liberty, Jonamac, and Spartan apples are resistant to attack. Birds and lacewings are natural predators of these flies. Traps can also be used.

Cucumber beetles are small (about 1/4-inch), yellow and black, striped beetles. The larvae of the beetles feed on the roots. The adult beetle feeds on the leaves and the fruit of cucumber plants. In mass they can be devastating, destroying entire crops. They can also carry diseases harmful to cucumber plants. Some natural predators of cucumber beetles include, braconid wasps, soldier beetles, and tachinid flies. Crop rotation helps to break the insect's life cycle.

Japanese beetles, scientifically known as Popillia japonica, grows to be about 15 mm long (a little more than 1/2-inch). It is marked by an iridescent green thorax. Its wing covering shell is copper colored. It is native to Japan where it is not much of a pest because there it has many natural enemies. In the U.S. and Canada it is located mainly in the eastern regions. The larvae eat the roots of grass while the adults feed on leaves and flowers. They can be controlled by trapping. The larvae are vulnerable to milky spore disease which can be obtained in a powder form for lawn care. Japanese beetles are repelled by garlic and chives. Interplanting vulnerable plants with these plants or making a spray of them can help deter attacks.

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