Apple maggots love them applesJune 1, 2012 @ 4:34 am (Updated: 5:55 am - 6/1/12 )
As part of my radio garden studies, Master Gardener Ciscoe Morris last week had me investigate the wonderful world of moles . And this week, he stuck me with apple maggots. I think I'm seeing a method to his madness. Just as moles are famous for their tunneling abilities, apple maggots too are expert tunnelers through the pulpy flesh of, of course, apples.
But unlike moles, who spend almost their entire lives underground, these maggots really get around. The adult maggot is a small dark fly with light and dark markings on his wings. For up to as long as two weeks, these adult maggots, both male and female, fly from tree to tree to tree, feeding on the moisture collected on the surface of leaves and fruit. After mating, the female uses her needle-sharp abdomen tip to puncture the skin of an apple in order to lay her eggs, just below the surface of that skin.
A few days later, these eggs hatch, producing tiny white legless larvae that immediately start burrowing through the apple. These larvae feed by tearing open the cells of the apple and absorbing the cell juices.
If the host apple is already ripe or close to being ripe, the larvae can grow to full size in 8-12 days. If however the apple is not ripe, if it is in fact too firm, the baby maggots can be trapped and starve to death, unable to consume enough to stay alive.
The maggots will usually stay inside the apple until the fruit falls off the tree and hits the ground. The maggot worm will then crawl out of the apple through a small opening it bores through the skin. It will then burrow itself about 1 to 3 inches underground and eventually transform itself from a soft little worm to a hardened oval puparium, inside which the pupa is formed.
The maggots usually stay in pupa form for two winters before emerging as the adult flies ... who will eventually mate and lay eggs inside the next unsuspecting generation of apples hanging from a tree. The circle of life.
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