Monthly Archives: February 2014

White Worms Raspberries

Raspberries from my GardenWhite worms raspberries??  Oh no Are you kidding? This is a “bad news” posting about white worms in raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and other soft fruits including blueberries, cherries, plums, plumcots, nectarines and figs. The Spotted Wing Drosophila fruit fly from native Japan is responsible. It is considered an invasive pest in the NW United States since 2009. Now it is also appearing on the East Coast of the US.

Why Are the Raspberries Not Kosher?

I was at a frozen yogurt store and noticed that the fresh raspberries and blackberries were marked “not kosher.” Now why in the world would a fresh fruit not be kosher. So I asked and they said that those fruits had not been checked to see if there were any worms in them. I had no idea that this was even a possibility. So I went home and looked in some of my gorgeous blackberries and sure enough there were white larvae crawling around in them. I was really grossed out because I had been eating these blackberries. Then I decided to check the raspberries and Yikes! The larvae were in the raspberries also. How disgusting and disappointing.

What Are the White Worms in the Raspberries?

Now I needed to find out what are these white worms or larvae and what to do about it. I put in “white worms raspberries” into Google and came up with the Spotted Wing Drosophila Fruit Fly.  This fruit fly is a more serious pest than our regular fruit flies because it attacks unripe and just ripe fruit.  Regular fruit flies attack fruit when it becomes soft and overly ripe.  The female has an ovipositor (which is the egg laying apparatus) that can pierce fruit that isn’t ripe yet.  With regular fruit flies we have an opportunity to pick the fruit before the fruit flies lay eggs in it.  Not so with the Spotted Wing Drosophila.  It lays eggs before we would think of picking the fruit.  For more information see this from the Pennsylvania Extension Service.

Check out this YouTube video to take a look at what these white worms in raspberries look like:

Composting Worms Escaping

The composting worms are escaping!  I came downstairs to work on separating the worms by scooping the compost off the top of the hill. I guess my “hill” was getting too small and the worms were escaping to look for a better environment. I found a few worms had escaped and were starting to dry up.  Some were more dry than others.  I tried to save them by squirting them with water to rehydrate them.  There were five escapees and three of them were revived.  It took awhile before they started moving again.

Composting Worms Escaping As I Separated Them

Composting Worms EscapingI was using the hill and light method to separate the worms.  You make a pile of finished worm compost with a pointy top just like a hill.  Then you shine a bright light on it which forces the worms to burrow towards the base of the hill.  After a while you can scoop off the top of the hill and it will be practically worm-free.  Then you keep repeating this process until all the worms are clustered at the bottom of the hill with barely any compost left.  You can see in the above picture all the worms clustered together. I left the last bit a little too long and some worms started venturing out looking for better living conditions.

This is one method of separating out worms.  It is somewhat time consuming because you have to keep coming back and taking the top of the compost off.  Then you have to form a new hill.  See for more information on separating worms and creating a rich, dark brown crumbly compost.

Worms Stay Put When the Conditions Are Favorable

One thing to remember is that if the worms are trying to escape, it means that something in their environment is not right.  Either it is too dry, too hot or too crowded.  It is a sign that you need to do something to fix their environment.  If they are happy they stay put in the worm bin.

See YouTube Video on Composting Worms Escaping