The Q&A Archives: Pin-sized holes in nectarines

Question: My peach and nectarine trees were loaded with fruits, but many had pin-sized holes in them and white worms crawling around inside. What is this insect and how do I get rid of it? Peter Tumminelli Palm Bay, FL

Answer: It sounds like the larva of the Caribbean fruit fly, Anastrepha suspensa, says Jorge Pe a, entomologist at the University of Florida's Tropical Research and Education Center in Homestead, Florida. According to Pe a, peaches, guavas, Surinam cherries, and papaya are heavily attacked in central and southern Florida by the Caribbean fruit fly. The adult fly is about twice the size of a housefly and lays its eggs on ripening fruit. The eggs hatch in two to three days. The small, white larvae feed inside the fruit for 10 to 14 days before pupating. There are multiple generations a year in Florida. The adults are most active in your area after May, so one way to control the pest is to plant early maturing varieties, such as Florida Prince peaches and SunRacer nectarines. Both of these varieties mature in late April, before the fly becomes a problem. The simplest and safest way to control these fruit flies on later-maturing varieties is to bag the fruit. Cover the young fruits soon after they have set with paper bags to prevent the adult fly from laying eggs, says Pe a. Sprays aren't very practical for homeowners because you'll need to consistently spray pyrethrum or malathion every 10 to 14 days - from fruit set to maturity - to control the adults.

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