Worms in Strawberries (Are They Harmful & How to Get Rid?)

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Here’s one story that could make you reconsider your strawberries, but don’t let it destroy your appetite. 

A TikTok challenge has gone viral, with people examining their strawberries to determine if bugs and worms dwell within.

It sounds repulsive and difficult to swallow (pun intended). But are worms in strawberries harmful and how do you keep strawberry worms away?

We rushed right to a professional, Dr. Shriya Goswami when we saw this. 

She works at the Institute of Florida and researches insects of small fruit crops.

Strawberries are soaked in salty water to see if bugs reside within them. In reaction to the experiment, viral videos are taking over TikTok. 

Some depict small worms coming out from the berry, whereas others depict almost every form of pest imaginable. 

She can confirm that small transparent worms can reside in your strawberries. (and she’ll explain what they are and how they infest strawberries a little further in this article!)

Can These Strawberry Worms Cause Harm if Ingested?

The simple answer would be no.

No studies have shown that speckled winged drosophilas, worms, or other pests in fruit are detrimental to human ingestion.

Experts admit that it’s as disgusting as it seems, but they also state that it’s just normal while eating fruits, veggies, and everything else that thrives in the fields.

The fact is that so many fruits and stored grains have some amount of pest infection that is hard to eradicate.

A minimal amount of these pests is better than having a no-tolerance policy, which requires producers to use massive pesticides. 

Using more pesticides causes a more significant challenge for farmers’ and consumers’ health.

How Do Worms Infest a Strawberry?

Doctor Goswami was nice enough to offer some context to the phenomenon of the TikTok videos.

Firstly, she claims it’s unusual and won’t be found each time you go shopping.

According to Goswami, the insects resemble, literally, maggots.

They are derived from the Dotted Flap Drosophila Fly, a fruit fly (so, they are actually not the worms that eat strawberries that you think!).

What distinguishes it is that the female possesses a specific egg-laying apparatus known as an ovipositor. 

It enables her to create a tiny gash into a juicy berry and place an egg deep within. It’s so small that human eyes can’t see it.

As a result, the fruit is sold to a retailer and placed in your refrigerator.

Likewise, she adds that it’s unusual for a fly to lay eggs in the strawberry. 

However, she does advise cleaning or soaking fruit before eating it, although too much salinity in the water may damage it.

Controlling Worms in Strawberries Organically

If you notice tiny holes in the strawberry, most often under the lid, you’re probably dealing with worms or pests. 

These Worms also leave greyish slime trails on the leaves that can be seen.

Slugs usually cause severe damage over time and are especially troublesome in the rainy season.

Controlling worms can be accomplished in a variety of ways, including:

  • To reduce hiding spots and avoid worm damage, discard leaves and other plant remains from the berries vicinity.
  • Water seldom but thoroughly. This watering routine will keep the soil from becoming damp, which attracts slugs.
  • Slugs will burrow beneath if you have a trapping plank. They will die when caught beneath it and attach to it at night. So check the traps every morning and discard any slugs. Otherwise, they’ll feast on your strawberries.
  • Use lemon peel traps: wrap tangerine, lime, or orange rinds all around the bottom of your strawberry bushes. Worms are lured to citrus, and you’ll be ready to accumulate and get rid of the pests each morning.
  • If you have a strawberry plant, put a 1.5 inches diatomaceous mud (DM) layer all around the roots of the plants, 4 inches away from the base. DE is a thin powder consisting of spiky marine microorganism components.
  • The worms’ skin is irritated by the substance, preventing them from crossing it. Therefore, DE must be kept dry and must be replaced after rainfall.

Other Bug and Treatments For Strawberries

  • Broken Flower Bugs

Strawberries are affected by the southwestern tarnished flower insect, Lygus Hesperus Knight (Hymenoptera: Miridae), and the strongly linked L. Hesperus Knights.

In the rest of the United States, it is known as lineolaris.

Both species are native, grouping, and graze on various weeds. 

The adults appear to be nomadic, migrating from one plant to the next as it begins to blossom.

Overwinter as adults among weeds in the Central Coast of California. When the rains stop and the wildflowers dry out in the springtime, the adults quickly colonize strawberries.

While strawberries are not a favored target of Lygus in California, the lack of other more appealing plants in late spring may be the reason for substantial strawberry colonization. 

Strawberries in this location have the probability of at least two cycles of attack between April and October.

Efforts to decrease Lygus infestations through means other than pesticide sprays include the deployment of the BugVac, a forklift vacuuming equipment.

Lygus larvae are agile and quickly relocate inside strawberries when the vacuum passes. These kill adults but have little effect on the early instar larvae. 

Furthermore, the regular usage BugVac, which is crucial for proper control, makes this a costly and inefficient technique.

Conclusion

As nasty as they sound, you generally don’t have to worry about “strawberry worms” or worms in strawberries at all when it comes to your health.

This article has examined the most frequent strawberry insects in the United States and worldwide. 

Therefore, pest populations in different parts of the world will be diverse.

However, additional species, such as the speckled wing drosophila and chili aphids, will very indeed find their way into the country and become pests. 

Climate change and the growth of agricultural methods, including elevated / low hidden passageways, can alter the insect complexes in various parts worldwide.

When creating an Insect pest and management strategy, it is critical to be mindful of these factors.