How To Prevent and Get Rid of Raspberry Worms

It seemed as if nothing could stop my prolific raspberry bushes from running their marathon harvest. And then the worms came.

I started noticing them a little here and there. No big deal, right? I’d just soak the raspberries in salty water and dump off the dead floaters. But then, what began as a small nuisance suddenly became an unmanageable infestation.

raspberries with worms
raspberries with worms

Where were these worms coming from?!

My guess was that they had something to do with all of the tiny little gnats I’d noticed swarming around my bushes. See that fly on my raspberry there? Look closely, I’m working with a point and shoot camera here.

Turns out, I was right. Those teeny, almost translucently white worms are the larvae of fruit flies. The Spotted Wing Drosophila is one type of fruit fly which is becoming a particular problem.

What is the Spotted Wing Drosophila?

The spotted wing drosophila, also known simply as SWD, is a tiny fruit fly that first came here from Asia in 2008. Since then, it has spread pretty much all over the United States. It attacks all kinds of berries, including strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, stone fruits, and of course, raspberries.

SWD not only can ruin your fruit, as I found, but they also lead to an increased likelihood of infestation from other insects as well as to an increased threat for rot fungi, bacteria, and other diseases.

Spotted wing drosophila first appear in late June, or sometimes a little earlier or later, depending on your climate. Just one fly can produce up to 12 generations in a single year, with populations peaking toward the end of the summer.

Here’s how this menacing little pest operates…

The adult females will lay eggs inside your fruit. When the small maggots appear (these are the worms I was telling you about!) They will eat the fruit before falling to the ground and pupating.

Later, they’ll merge as adult flies. This cycle will then repeat itself, happening as fast as seven days in warm weather or up to 25 days when it’s cooler.

Lots of people don’t even realize that the SWD flies are there until the worms appear. Creepy!

What is the Difference Between SWD and Regular Fruit Flies?

The difference between the SWD and regular fruit flies, besides the tell-tale black spot on the male fly’s wings, is that while everyday fruit flies generally lay eggs in overripe or damaged fruit, Spotted Wing Drosophila have a more aggressive approach.

They lay their eggs in the flesh of underripe fruit, making it hard to beat the bugs to the harvest. The eggs hatch, and those nasty little raspberry worms are soon to follow.

These pests are actually relatively new here, and are becoming a HUGE pain to berry growers across the US. Not only do they effect raspberries, but blackberries, blueberries, cherries and strawberries as well.

Another Type of Raspberry Worm: the Raspberry Beetle

Another type of raspberry worm to be aware of is the larvae of the raspberry beetle. These pests grow to about ⅕ of an inch in length and are quite easy to differentiate from SWD because, of course, they are beetles instead of flies.

These pests have red-brown bodies with fine hairs, feeding predominantly on the leaves of raspberry canes instead of the berries. They tend to mate near the flower buds of the plant and leave their eggs behind there.

One of the easiest ways to determine if your pest problem is due to the raspberry beetle or the spotted wing drosophila is to look at the timing and extent of the damage.

If damage appears in the spring, from mid-April to early May, chances are that it’s raspberry beetles causing you problems. If damages arise later in the summer, it’s probably SWD.

Fortunately, the damage from the adult raspberry fruitworm beetles themselves usually isn’t anything to worry about – although you will want to keep an eye out for their worms.

The worms bury into fruit caps, causing them to die and shrivel up. These pests can also overwinter in the soil and come back the following year.

Fortunately, the steps to get rid of this kind of raspberry worm is more or less the same as the ones you would follow to get rid of SWD.

Good preventative measures like pruning, disposing of infected plant parts, and using row covers (and diatomaceous earth!) can keep these pests at bay.

There is one additional method of control that you have in your arsenal when it comes to dealing with raspberry beetles as opposed to SWD: you can handpick them.

While this is not usually possible with SWD, you can kill raspberry beetle worms by dropping the beetles (and of course their worms) into buckets of soapy water.

Preventing and Getting Rid of Spotted Raspberry Worms

Experts are still testing different methods of control, but there are a few preventative measures you can take to reduce the chances of an infestation:

Keep Plants Picked of Ripe Fruit

Ripening fruit will attract the Spotted Wing Drosophila, and will spread breeding grounds. Do not leave overripe berries on the vine, and do not let them fall to the ground as this will encourage an infestation.

Pick the vines clean, and do not compost unwanted berries. The heat from the compost is not high enough to kill the SWD larvae and they will reemerge the following year.

I’ve been feeding my overripe berries to the chickens, but you can also seal them in a Ziploc bag and leave it out in the sun to kill the worms. You must keep your plants picked clean of all ripe fruit every single day.

Destroy Infested Fruit

As much as I hate having to get rid of fresh fruit, unfortunately, you may just need to get rid of fruit that you know to be infected.

There are ways to get the worms out of the berries, but it can take some time and some patience. Instead, just get rid of the fallen fruit or the infested fruit and put it in the plastic bags, as I mentioned above.

Remember, put the bags in the trash and do not compost them. A word to the wise – you also can’t bury infested berries or plant parts. These pests can survive being buried as deep as a foot and a half!

Keep Plants Pruned and Tied Up

Fruit flies like humid, shady environments. Thin ’em out and keep sprawling varieties trellised. Burn the prunings and trimmings instead of composting them.

A trellis won’t necessarily prevent pests from getting to your plants and developing fruit, but it can keep the fruits off the ground and make it easier for you to see if there are any issues arising. With everything lifted off the ground, you can get a better look at your plants.

Do a Ground Clean-Up

SWD larvae can overwinter in the soil and reemerge the following year. It is recommended that you cultivate the soil around your plants to expose the larvae to the elements.

They don’t survive well in very cold or hot temperatures. I’m going to go an extra step and sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth around my plants after I thin them out.

When you’re cultivating the soil, do so slowly and methodically. You will want to use a rake or otherwise shallowly cultivate the soil to expose the larvae to the sunlight.

This is somewhere else you can put the chickens to work, by the way – let them till the soil near the plants. They shouldn’t harm the plants, particularly if you already have them covered, but they can really do a number on the SWD.

Set Traps

You can put out a vinegar or yeast-sugar trap to lure these pesky flies. It won’t catch enough of them to help a bad infestation, but if you set the traps out when the fruits are just beginning to appear, you will be able to monitor the arrival of the flies.

Setting traps at the end of the season might also help reduce the population for the following year. Page 2 of this document explains how to make your own fruit fly traps.

Essentially, these traps are more or less the same ones you might use inside your home. You’ll have a combination of yeast, water, and sugar in a cup that ferments and attracts the flies.

You’ll have to check it frequently so you know when the flies have arrived, but it’s a pretty effective way to keep these pests at bay.

It will also notify you almost immediately if you have a problem. Keep the bait in the traps fresh and if you start to notice pests, pick the ripe fruits promptly.

Choose Early-Ripening Varieties

If you’re growing raspberries, an early-ripening variety may not be available. However, if you’re growing other fruit-bearing plants, like blueberries or strawberries, and are suffering from SWD, consider growing an early-ripening variety.

By choosing a fruit that is ready to go earlier in the season, you’ll reduce your likelihood of SWD becoming a problem simply because they aren’t around yet.

Cover Your Plants

You may be able to prevent the flies from landing by covering your plants with a very fine row cover before the fruit even begins to appear on your raspberry leaves. Be sure to close it off so that flies cannot get underneath it. This method, however, can sometimes pose problems with air circulation.

If you don’t want to use row covers, you can also just use very fine netting. This will protect SWD from appearing and will also reduce the likelihood of further infestation once an initial sets in. You’ll have to open the netting at each harvest, which can give SWD temporary access to the berries, but this is unlikely.

An added benefit of using row covers or netting is that it will protect the berries from birds and from hail, too, which can be just as destructive as SWD, depending on where you live.

Remember, you don’t have to worry about removing the covers for pollinating because raspberries are self-pollinating.

Refrigerate Your Harvest

If you notice raspberry fruitworms, one of the best ways to halt an infestation is to pick the ripe fruits as soon as you can – and then refrigerate or freeze the harvest. The cold will stop the development of the eggs and freezing can kill them altogether.

Use the Flotation Method

Although most experts agree that eating a few SWD worms won’t hurt you, it can be “icky” to say the least! To figure out whether your fruits are infested, there’s a simple procedure you can follow.

Take about 30 ripe fruits and put them in a gallon bag. Add a cup or two of sugar syrup (½ cup sugar and 1 quart of water) to the bag. Seal it. Mash the berries, then let them settle to the bottom. Any bugs present should float to the top.

This method won’t work with fruits that are already damaged or rotten. Of course, it won’t work for fruit you plan to eat fresh, either! But if you’re worried about a large scale infestation in your harvest, it’s a good way of ruling it out in a small batch before you eat the other ones.

Harvest in Spring Instead of Fall

Fruit flies tend to be more of a problem with Fall crops, particularly beginning in July. If you have an Everbearing variety, you might want to prune them after the Spring harvest so that you don’t get a Fall harvest that would attract the SWD.


There are two organic insecticides which have been found to be helpful in reducing SWD population: Entrust and Pyganic.

Stay away from Spinosad, since it can harm beneficial pollinators despite the fact that it is totally safe for humans and approved for organic use.

If you decide to spray, know that you will probably have to do more than one application of an insecticide in the pyrethrins family, and potentially use various insecticides, as insecticide resistance is common.

The insecticides, however, target adults before they lay their eggs but they will not control larvae that are already inside the fruit – just something to keep in mind.

As soon as larvae get inside the fruit, your only option is sanitation to prevent SWD from coming out.

Can You Eat Raspberries With Worms?

The short answer is yes, you can eat raspberries with worms. In fact, most commercially grown raspberries are infested with worms. Those worms are usually the larvae of fruit flies, and they don’t pose any health risks to humans.

And if you’re growing your own raspberries, again, it’s super common for them to be infested with raspberry fruit worms like the ones we talked about earlier in this post. Again – no problem eating them, it’s just not the most pleasant!

However, many people find the thought of eating worms to be off-putting, so if you’re squeamish about them, you may want to give your raspberries a quick rinse before eating.

How Do You Clean Raspberries for Worms?

The easiest way to clean raspberries is to rinse them in cool water. If you are concerned about worms, you can soak the raspberries in a saltwater solution for about 15 minutes. This will kill any worms that may be present. To make the saltwater solution, simply mix 1 cup of water with 1 tablespoon of salt.

After soaking the raspberries, rinse them again in cool water and then pat them dry with a paper towel. Raspberries are best eaten fresh, but they can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days.

Be Patient – But Be Aggressive

I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to pick quarts and quarts of gorgeous red berries just to open them up and find worms crawling all over them.

I’ve continued soaking them in the salt water solution and rinsing, rinsing, rinsing, until all of the worms are gone- then freezing them.

This is just one of those mind over matter deals. I’ve resolved that if I end up eating a couple of worms, as long as I didn’t see them first, I’m good with that. Next year, I hope to be ahead of the game.

What about you, have you had trouble with worms in your berries this year? What are you doing to treat the problem?

67 thoughts on “How To Prevent and Get Rid of Raspberry Worms”

  1. SWD is a horrible experience for berry lovers and growers alike! The good news is that there is an organic biocontrol solution to this infestation that is free of toxic chemicals and effective on a multi-year basis. (6 years and counting in my Western NC berry patches). And it can be applied DIY from commercial sources, such as Arbico.

    My recommended “solution” involves a drench application of the beneficial nematode Steinernema feltiae to SWD infested growing beds This little roundworm is a “good” nematode – harmless to plants and beneficial insects. But it feeds ravenously upon the larvae and pupae of SWD which fall to the ground to complete their development to adult. So, during the first season of Sf application, the SWD population will be drastically reduced. And this biological population control will continue for subsequent years.

    There are some limits to this solution, e.g. it will only work with planting beds that are free of chemical contaminants such as current or even trace insecticides that could kill the nematodes. So if you are a recent convert from chemical to “organic”, you may need to start with new beds for your fruits.

    • Hi Patrick, I looked up Steinernema feltiae where I live and it says it’s for ant nests but nothing about the flies. Is this just something that you have discovered that it is also good for the flies or have I just searched incorrectly please? Thank you

  2. Milwaukee, WI SWD is here…. I have been experimenting this fall with harvest. I started picking the berries while still white with no pink shade and while still firm. I placed in clear plastic bags until ripe and found 0 worms. It is my belief if you get to the fruit while white and still firm you may be able to salvage some of your garden berries. I have also tried apple vinegar and red wine with soap. To no avail. Also tried blondie sprays with no affect… tough little bastards. Burned all my spring crops and hoped for better fall crop but still no success. Only thing so far is picking while white and firm.

    • In addition I only place 1/4 or less cup berries per bag or clear Tupperware so that you can monitor the fruit more easily. Agree with all comments pertaining to burning fruit and clear cutting all stems at season’s end including turning soil/mulch and burning that as well. Dont throw in landfill as you will just continue to spread the bugs to other parts of the city.

  3. Hi Kendra. I really appreciated your website when I googled “white worms in raspberries”. I live in Ladner, B.C. Canada…south of Vancouver, close to the US border. I first noticed those tiny white worms in my everbearing raspberries last year and was horrified. In the fall I cut down the raspberry canes to about 4 inches. They grew back in the spring and are once again housing the worms. I am so disheartened! Have you recently been able to come up with anything new that will get rid of them?

    • Ive read that the worms or fly overwinters in the ground, and will be back the next year. The fly plants the eggs in the overipe fruit and whala disturbing little worms. They can be soaked in salt water, let sit at least 15 min you will find the worms float to the top of the water. Then rinse and do again. But, best to pick fruits that are not overripe

  4. Hi Kendra,
    Thanks for this helpful information. Do you have an update on how it’s gone for you the past few years? What worked, what didn’t?

  5. Me again from Central Wisconsin- wanted to give an update – I removed all grass/foliage/debris from around my plants; pruned them and I’ve given them some malathion treatments last fall and this spring/early summer. Didn’t help one bit with my early summer crop. I haven’t tried traps or doing anything to the soil yet.
    I didn’t bother using malathion on the fall crop since it didn’t seem to be effective earlier this year.
    The only thing that HAS worked between my early summer and fall crop was picking daily when the berries just start to turn red. Seems like once they develop a darker hue of red they have worms 99% of the time.
    Same thing happened with my sisters yellow berries, but those are a bit harder to tell when they’re ready to be picked.

  6. First, I want to thank you, Kendra, for sharing all this great info on these wretched pests. I was out of town during rainy weather, and on return had clouds of fruit flies in the berry patch. I was looking for control tips for fruit flies and super happy (but not) to discover your info, b/c this horrid fly is in my patch! I made the yeast-sugar traps as suggested on your link, and they were filling with fruit flies within 30 minutes of hanging them. I have adopted Michelle’s tips for disposing of bad or infested berries in vinegar water and will clean up diligently this fall. THANK YOU to all for your great advice!!! Also thanks to whoever said the berries with visible juice have the worms–yes, they do! I used to just eat those berries while picking….I know, don’t think about it. 😉 Wanted to comment to Bob in Wisconsin–You have raspberry cane borers. Easy to control if you cut off the can tips once they show signs of attacks. Search it out online for info. It’s super easy to identify when they’ve hit your patch. Sandy–You likely have raspberry sawfly. Spinosad (organic pesticide derived from plants, I think), kills sawfly larva. I’ve dealt with these things so thought I’d share, since you all helped me so much. Best berries to all!!!

  7. I live in Bothell,Wa and have never seen these worms before until today. I could not be more frustrated. Now im a god loving man who does not believe in swearing or getting angry with others but I can’t tell you how mad this makes me. I have such fond memories of picking blackberries with my dad in the 80s and mom would make pies that we would top with ice cream and all your cares and worries would go away from the absolutely intoxicating tastes of the ice cream and berry pie combination. Now when you go to eat your pie gross tape worm looking things come out. Fathers and sons will never get to experience what i got to with my fad and that frustrates me beyond belief. Now we have to try to spray chemicals or give up all together. I found this is spread everywhere in the us and comes from importing fruits from Asia that we can grow here. Like I said I never get angry or believe in swearing but i tell you what if I had the man in front of me here today who decided that instead of creating jobs and growing fruit here in the us to make a buck let’s ship them on large boats which pollute the earth and oceans. Not to mention destroy the chance at creating memories like i had got to have. Lets just say you would need a very large group of strong men to hold me back from showing this man what I think about the choice he made to turn a profit. One thing I can say is I grow boysenberries also which fruit before the blackberries even start fruiting and Im not saying they were not there but I did not see a one.I dont know what we can do but I want to rally a large group of people together and all meet up and voice our frustration to whoever will listen to stop this from happening again . You know if we dont it will be something else in the near future til eventually you cant eat fruits and veggies anymore with putting them through some radiation chamber to kill all the invasive bugs we imported.God bless and anyone who wants to join me and help change this travesty let me know what your ideas are and how we can plan this . Thanks

    • Hello Justin…My husband and I live in Maine, in a rural town, just outside of Portland. We have 4 acres with 2 vegetable gardens and a very large blackberry patch. Blueberries are also prolific throughout. Over the years we have worked hard to maintain these patches for our own use. My husband worked all day in 84 degree sun with 99% humidity, obtaining 2 and 1/2 gallons of blackberries. Upon washing the berries in preparation to make jam I noticed they had tiny white worms coming directly out of the berries. I was horrified, never having seen this. I researched the problem and found that it is not uncommon. Cooking the berries would take care of the problem, HOWEVER, I found myself gagging at the thought of eating this crop, even after they were cooked. I’ve had instruction in microbiology, parasitology, and the variety of Dipterans or medically important arthropods, flies in particular, play a role in transmission of bacterial, protozoal, helminthic and viral diseases. Such dipterans are known widely as Deer, Horse, Stable and Tsetse flies; along with mosquitoes, sandflies, black flies and midges. It is the common house fly, that transmits many viral, bacterial and protozoan infections to people. Some species deposit larvae, and most flies are oviparous, laying eggs in water, soil, or on host bodies. Such eggs develop into active wormlike larvae, which metamorphose into pupae or maggots before developing into adult flies. As you can see, I wanted no part of these blackberries. The gallon of blueberries I picked were immediately washed and put into the freezer. I did not see any eggs or wormlike larvae in these. I may not have looked too closely also!!! When I was a child, I too was able to pick and eat the berries without worry. I don’t want to resort to having to use poisons to spray the berries. I will not… In any case, I made the jam…however, I don’t believe I will be eating any of it!!! I’ll let my husband enjoy it, seems he can!!

  8. We used to sell berries, but no more because of the worms. We don’t treat our canes or berries with anything, and in recent years have begun to get the worms. They are never noticed until I take a container of fresh berries to work, only to open the container at noon for lunch and need to selectively eat the berries without worms. After picking they look perfect, but within hors, the worms appear. We don’t eat fresh berries much anymore due to the worms. My remedy is to put all my berries in a blender, removing any bugs or worms I see, blend the heck out of the berries, and either freeze in serving sizes for pies or smoothies later or make jam (directions say not to blend, but I don’t want to see any worms or bugs I missed). What I don’t see won’t bother me, but certainly seeing worms on my lunch of fresh berries grosses me out. I have ALWAYS cut out and thinned my canes after the harvest is over, so lack of pruning is not the culprit.

    • Hi I’m from Pennsylvania and have just found these worms for the first time in 6 yrs. We have over 2000 plants and sell to many fruit markets and individuals. I never spray anything on my plants but I may have to give in and try the Malathion. We keep the bushes thinned out. I have blackberries and raspberries and they both have the same little worms in them but I didn’t notice them until September 3 2018. I’m not glad that any of us have this problem but it’s also good that we can share info.

      • I am in Southern WI…I have been cultivating my plants since seedlings for 14 years. This is the first year I have ever dealt with this. I am sick about how many berries I am throwing out (in sealed bags). I think I caught the issue too late as I have been spraying recently with organic spray, but I still detect the larvae even with close inspection and tossing all overripe and questionable berries. For every cup I “save”, I toss 3 cups. I have been doing the soak in cold tap water for 15 minutes, then rinse in a bowl of cold water…pick out berries with slotted spoon so I don’t squish…soak in lemon juice and water 15 minutes…rinse again in same manner as before. I a cup of berries through this process, I will see 4 or 5 larvae floating…I dry the berries on paper towel and freeze on parchment paper and bag…before the double rinse, I used to still get a few larvae crawling out during the freezing process, but no more. I plan to prune plants as usual, but thin out quite a bit,get rid of all mulch etc under the plants to kill anything over the winter. I will also put out traps when the second season of berries begin pop next year. A lot of work, but at least I will save some…

  9. Really disappointed. My raspberrys grow like crazy i and the kids can go to the backyard and pick a snack everyday since new ripe berrys appear everyday. There is so many that at least one third of them become over rippend and left to rot. Seeing these damn little worms just grosses me out.

  10. i have had some success with 1/3 cup of dish soap (cheap) ans water in a spray bottle, spray away, kills the worms and flies, just rinse afterwardlois

  11. live in Wisconsin near lake winnabago first time worms in stem center of plant cutting it off below fruit line. been spraying with seven spray not much results. worm is in stalk . would pruneing them to the ground help for next year/ thanks for sharing bob l.

    • Hi Bob- I’m also in Wisconsin (Stevens Point area) and the bunnies in my yard prune my berry bushes to the ground over winter and this hasn’t eradicated the worms yet. The few stalks the bunnies didn’t chew down produced raspberries in late July/early August this year and those already had worms so I trimmed all of those stalks down and let the new growth flower; no ripe berries yet but hoping they don’t get worms, some should be ready within the next few weeks. I’m going to set some fruit fly traps and try Malathion hoping it’s not too late in the season.

      • I wanted to add an update- after clearing a bunch of the grass around my berries and a bunch of leaves on the berry bushes, I used the Malathion once a week until the berries started to ripen. I also did not kill the spiders that were in my berry bushes like i usually do and disposed of overripe or worm infested berries in a closed bottle of vinegar to prevent the fruit flies from reaching maturity or laying more eggs in those berries. Less than half of my small patch of berries had the larvae in them at the start of this season (Mid-August) and now that it is colder out (October) I haven’t found one berry with larvae in it. I’ve been picking between 1-4 dozen ripe berries every day or every other day and plan on spraying early and keeping the area clear of grass and extra leaves next spring/summer to ensure a non-infested crop

  12. I think this is the problem I have – definitely see some fruit flies around my plants and some white worms in my berries….but if the worms are there, the berries are mush – liquified from the inside (I assume because the worms are feeding on the berry)….I have had to discard about half of my berry crop because if I see that liquified centre when I pick, I discard – I don’t care about eating some worms, but those berries taste off – like they are rotting from inside. Unfortunately I have been throwing the liquified berries into my bush, probably making the problem worse. Likely the non-mushy ones have worms too…maybe not hatched yet? I’m so sad to lose out on my delicious raspberries. I think it all started because my crop was ready to pick when we were on holidays and usually my neighbour picks them, but she was on holidays too. So they got over-ripe. Wish there was an easy fix – not looking forward to this as being an ongoing issue.

    • I have little white worms in the berry and and I will stop picking now. My plants are the ever bearing and I only just to pick. I cut my bushes four inches from the ground in the fall and put leaves on them then. I will surely thin them so they are not like a jungle

  13. I always put my red or black raspberries a few at a time on a jelly roll pan to clean. I shake the pan and any bugs, worms or whatever will come off berries. I pick the bugs or worms off the pan and freeze or use fresh the berries. Learned this from my mom way back in the day.

    • I Did this too but found that that was not enough. I had picked and picked on day and didn’t have time to get them in freezer containers so I left them in a covered bowl and put them in the refrigerator for a few hours until I returned. The edge top of the bowl was infested with the little white worms. I have stopped picking the patch this year. I think my patch is to dense. I will have to thin it out next year.

  14. My problem is tiny translucent wormies on the underside of the leaves. They eat holes in the leaves & the leaves end up looking like lace.
    They basically ruin my plants before berry time 🙁

  15. When I picked I look inside, if I don’t see anything right away, in the bucket it goes, I don’t wash the berries, raspberries tend to fall apart if you wash them, I just freeze em on a cookie sheet. I find quite a few of the worms on the sheet and I try to not dump them in the bag. Mind games I play with myself I guess. Next year I’ll let the chickens out while I’m picking again. Did not have the worms as much when the chickens were out more. I have had problems with coyotes so they aren’t out as much. I’ve just been dropping the discards on the ground for the dog but there are a lot of berries on the ground. I will change how I do things next year. Thanks for the article.

  16. Hi,
    So excited about your website..had beautiful berries and day I have beetles worms oh NO!
    Some people who have shared the solution to bugs..but does anyone have a organic natural spray..idea or recipe..homemade to GET rid of the pests??
    Anyway Happy Gardening from the Central Coast California…

    • I have used Monterey Garden Insect Spray. It contains Spinosad which is considered organic. It has worked well for me on my raspberries and blackberries. I sprayed about once a week when raspberries were ripening. I sprayed at night so that bees wouldn’t be harmed. I used a tank sprayer. My black raspberries which ripen first were not damaged. But the red raspberries are always a challenge. I pick with a little plastic bag to thrown in any berries that seem quite soft, There aren’t too many of those.

  17. I thought I was loosing my mind when I saw the little worms in my raspberries. Thank you for helping me feel sane again.
    I do have some questions. How important is it to create rows of plants? My raspberries grow in a 12 x 20 patch in the corner of my yard. To make the area into rows will be very difficult to do.
    Is it possible to eradicate the worms or will I need to battle them every year? or should I rip the raspberries out and quit now? Is there an effective spray pesticide? I also have rhubarb growing on the side of my patch, will it get infected? The biggest question: I have always given my raspberries to friends and co-workers many have frozen the berries for use in smoothies during our long winters, do I need to tell them not to use the berries? Any answers would be greatly appreciated.
    Brooke in Minneapolis, Minnesota

    • Raspberry bushes need to be thinned out to prevent disease and pest issues from becoming too prevalent. The more crowded the plants are, the harder the fruit will be to harvest and the more will rot, therefore drawing the drosophila fly to lay eggs on your fruits. If you can thin them out so that you can get in between them it will help. I’ve found that if I harvest the raspberries that ripen in spring they’re fine, but once we get into summertime the berries tend to get worms. I wouldn’t pull the plants up, but just keep an eye on when you start seeing worms and stop harvesting then. I’ve never sprayed my plants, but definitely go with something organic if you decide to try a pesticide- you don’t want to poison yourself. The worms won’t hurt you if you eat them. 😉

      • thankyou for that last bit i was just looking to see if the worms were harmful and this was the first one i found saying anything about eating them

    • Hi Brooke,
      I feel your pain! We had this exact problem and lost our entire crop of “Caroline” raspberries last year! I just can’t seem to look the other way when it comes to worms. So I called the Utah County Extension agent, who told me the “Dusky Sap” beetle was the villain! It’s a tiny 1/4″ long beetle that comes out in the spring and lays it’s eggs near the blossom and when the fruit forms, the egg hatches and then you have the worms. My backyard neighbor freeze dried theirs (same variety) and said the worms fall out if you do that. I wasn’t convinced… This year we sprayed very early with Malathion, to eliminate the beetle, who comes out in early spring (March) to lay it’s eggs. Guess what! No worms, spider mites, or anything! Much happier!
      Good luck whatever you do! I wasn’t happy using any kind of spray once the raspberries are on–didn’t want the chemicals then, but early spring when they were starting to blossom was fine with me! The County Extension agent said, it helps to pick the raspberries when they are ripe, and not let them get overripe, but that didn’t stop the problem for us. Good luck whatever you decide to do!

  18. Hi, We have never been bothered with these little worms here in North Carolina. I was dumfounded when I picked a gallon of raspberries and proceeded to run them through cheesecloth to make jelly. I was disgusted to see little bitty worms crawling all over the jelly bag. I threw the whole thing out yuk! There has to be something to spray on the bushes to kill these little buggers. Thanks

  19. We too in Iowa have been invaded by these little buggers. The past two years we have picked the red raspberries and promptly fed them to the chickens because of finding so many worms. And of course the past two years we have had bumper crops! Is there anything new since 2014 that has been found to eradicate these from the berry patches. I did buy captain jacks dead bug brew and sprayed at the beginning of harvest last year but was too late to stop the bugs. Will try spraying much earlier this year but would like to know if anyone else has found something better to eradicate this pest.

    • Kathy…it’s quite a bit later…but I’m fairly sure your problem is not a beetle. It is most likely the Spotted Wing Drosophila that the author of this article is writing about. I just encountered the pest this year and I’m having little luck managing the pest. I’m going to try again next year, clean up the garden site in the fall and pray. If I have problems again, I may try to switch to a spring cultivar (if there are any for Massachusetts). Goodluck, would love to hear an update from you as far as how this season is going.

      • I actually found one of those little beetles today in my berries and when i went back to use them later, all the little worms were out …ew…i about threw up. I looked up to see what the hec, and found this thread! thanks so much for the info everyone!!!

  20. That SWD will spell the end of Organic. The pyganic, due to over use by aerial applications by large corporate organic producers, is ineffective due to resistant build up and the Entrust is limited to five applications per season–and has a 3 day waiting interval after application until you can harvest the fruit…This means there are no organic options left since the fly lays eggs in the green fruit. The good news is many conventional insecticides have a milder 1 day until harvest interval and that is really all that matters. Yes, entrust is worse, despite being organic, than say malathion. The PHI is all that matters as both are made in laboratories.

    What the outcome will be is producers will have three choices.
    a. grind up the worms and the crop and call it organic plus protein.

    b. freeze the crop with the worm in it and call it organic instead of neglected

    c. use non organic but milder than organic insecticides and properly maintain their crops management.

    I choose c. Who needs extra protein.

    Take care,


  21. I picked 2 qts. of red raspberries yesterday, refrigerated them and when I opened the container this morning I noticed for the first time tiny white worms. We cut our bushes down to the ground each year so that we have a large late summer crop. Currently, I have 4 gallons frozen from this year plus I’ve made 14 jars of jam. Is it possible that there are worms in these two items?

    We are devastated to have this issue and are happy to find your informative site.

  22. I noticed the tiny little worms inside my raspberries last summer. This summer I made sure I picked my berries right before they got too ripe and seemed fine. But I am wondering if there are eggs, and they hatch once the berries get more ripe. I’m not sure how many I have eaten, but I am just sick about my raspberries. We have been picking them and putting them in an airtight bag to throw them away.

    I am thinking of cutting my stocks down to the ground, raking the earth, and putting some sort of worm killer in the ground and hoping this will get rid of them this year and help reduce the numbers for next year. What do you think about that?

    Next year I will put out containers that will attract the flies away from the berries and hope for the best. Someone also suggested I put three inches of cedar chips in my patch. What do you think? Would appreciate your thoughts.

    • Hi Robbie,

      We were very diligent about picking our raspberries this year. We picked the good ones and the bad ones, so they weren’t left to rot and attract the flies. I didn’t find any worms in our berries this year. If you want to sprinkle something on the ground around your plants, I’d recommend Diatomaceous Earth. It’s natural, and won’t harm the beneficial insects or the earthworms you don’t wanna kill.

  23. UPDATE: Found your AWESOME article again while looking for more info re the SWD Beasties as I Truly CRIED last year after throwing buckets of raspberries away. I TRIED what I could to get rid of the li’l nasties, to NO avail.
    Found this article this morn from California, sharing as it had some additional about them. Have you seen this one?
    I just KNEW the BITTER COLD WINTER we had would SURELY have killed all these danged things off, but NOOOOOO… Mother Gaia decided to test my resolve in 2015, too – Grrrr…. 😉
    Sadly I’ve already found the buggers in my Strawberries… Keeping fingers crossed, eyes peeled & traps at the ready for my raspberries & chokecherry tree. 🙂
    If you have learned any more info would LOVE to hear it! 🙂
    Best Wishes, and Thx again for this article and your web site – it ROCKS! 😉
    Ft Collins, CO

    • I wish I could say I’ve learned a new magic trick, lol. This year we’re battling Japanese Beetles on our raspberry bushes and grapevines. It’s always something, lol! Best of luck to you!

  24. I just googled worm in red raspberries.So glad I found your site ! We live in Ohio and have been growing red raspberries to make all kind of goodies with, including wine ! We have probably been growing them for 8-10 years and this is the first year we have ever found worms. I soak and rinse and soak and rinse also.And then freeze. We are having another problem with the berries also and I was wondering if you can help with this. Some of the berries have white pieces of flesh, like the little balls that make up the berry. Some are grouped together and white with no red pigment. What could that be ? Any help will be appreciated ! Thanks !

    • I’ve been growing berries for 12 years. When this first happened two years ago it always went with higher heat spells. We tossed hundreds of pints….I also noticed the white drupelets. Sometimes berries were fully ripe with little color. I don’t think they are ripe though, I think the eggs just soften the berry as they are growing into worms which breaks down the tight barrier between the drupelets that keeps them firm. I cried too as I threw away hundreds of dollars of income every time it got hot. I’m going to do more research on the incubation period etc. to get this under control. I’d love to be organic but I am finding that in the northern states more insects seem to be coming up further and further from the south with overall warming. Thrips use to be a rare occurrence in strawberries in Wisconsin, and now they seem to be occurring often. I think the road ahead for fruit growers is a very very tough one. Overuse of insecticides are creating superbugs. I don’t use insecticides unless warranted, but will not hesitate if my entire income depends on it. I lost an entire strawberry crop in 2006 due to thrips and lost tens of thousands of dollars. Sadly by the time we lost the crop, most of our inventory for sales, like boxes etc. were already purchased. It’s been a rough profession. If I find more info, I will share here too. Thanks and so glad I found this site.

      • I hate to hear of all the trouble you’ve had, Tami! I’m sure that can be extremely discouraging and heartbreaking. I’ve been trying to learn more about permaculture and food forests as a solution for keeping pests and disease under control naturally. It’s pretty interesting stuff, if you get some time to look into it.

      • My heart goes out to farmers depending upon these fruit crops. I tore out my large red raspberry patch four years ago and am planting five Joan J plants this spring hoping a fall crop will avoid the maggot infestation. I noticed the fall before I tore out the patch that the ripe berries just before the end of the season and frost, were maggot free. That why I’m aiming for a late fall harvest in N E Ohio. I’m going to try keeping over ripe fruit picked and the ground really clean. I may try diatomaceous earth on the ground and a much smaller patch in hopes I can keep up the war. I had no idea the maggot misery was so widespread.

    • The white spots are from some type of beetle, I think they are a type of stink bug but not sure. They suck the juice out of each individual ball(?) on the berry. I battle them each year. They are hard to spot and smart. They are usually greenish in color and a little smaller than a dime or less. They are quick and hide under the leaves or start crawling down the stems. You just have to pick them off and squash them. Sorry I haven’t found another solution yet.

    • I believe you are talking about the druplets of your berry being uncolored. For most fruit once you pollinate the flower the fruit will grow. For blackberries and I will assume for raspberries as well, inside each flower, each part of what will become the druplets must be pollinated for them all to grow into their juicy colorful druplet. Other causes for uncolored druplets can be sunburn, over/underwatering, parasites and insects.

  25. My raspberries were great and larva free until I believe it was 2012 we had a very cold spring and all blossoms on fruit trees froze in our area, that was the summer our raspberries became their target here in South-western Ontario, Canada. Great to find some suggestions to help with the problem. It’s a real pain trying to beat these pests to the fruit, as soon as you pick an infested berry you know by the softness of the top of the berry. Turn it over, look in inside and you see the juice, you know the worms are there before even tearing it open.

  26. Iowa girl here, with backyard raspberries that we inherited when we bought the house ten years ago. This is the first year we noticed the larvae, but my eyesight isn’t the greatest and my visiting daughter found them. Who knows how many we unknowingly ate already! I think the bushes are hopeless for this picking. We will try to trim them up, put out some traps, and hope for the best in the future. Thanks for the great suggestions!

  27. Thanks for putting a name to my nightmare, and suggesting so many possible solutions!

    Disgusting thought: how many of these have I unknowingly ingested? I always nosh my way through a picking and I never noticed worms before this year, but just dumped out today’s entire harvest after about half a dozen rinses, then cutting open several of the remaining berries and finding one or two tiny inhabitants nestled inside each one, damn!

    I’m no farmer; these are just wild canes/brambles in my backyard, about 12 feet high and maybe 15-20 feet in diameter, plus smaller satellite vines around the yards perimeter; no way to remove ripened fruit at all in some places, much less daily…

    Do you think I should cut the main bramble down at the end of the summer and try to forgo a crop next year? I live in Northern CA, about 2 blocks from the Carquinez Strait, and it’s alternately nicely hot or cool with fog so my conditions are perfect for the little buggers…

    Thanks again,

    • Subie,

      If you cut the canes this year, they’ll likely still produce next year. Raspberries and Blackberries are incredibly resilient. I wouldn’t bother. Maybe thin them out, and focus your pest control to just a few of the bushes. If you can pick the berries just before they’re fully ripened, or just at the peak of ripeness, hopefully that will help. I’ve found that the almost-ripe berries haven’t had worms in them like the ripe and super ripe ones have. Good luck!

  28. OMG, how I LOVE the Internet! Googled “tiny white worms in raspberries” & Wha-la! MY SAVIOR appears! 😉 Live in Ft Collins, CO & just SICK about the Massive poundage I had to throw away in 2013… ARGH!!! I even opened baggies in freezer from earlier harvests like July 4th, & to my dismay EVERY BERRY I OPENED had visible critters. Same symptoms. Actually first noticed hard spots on outside of berries, both new & overripe.. Then started noticing all the “gnats” (aka ‘UFI’s’ @our house since many flying species are simply unknown to us!) Also noticed we had Loads of earwigs in the grove as well, a first… wonder if related? Anyways, I WC Colorado Extension & see if they have eradication suggestions as we’ll. 🙂 TX foe writing this, soooooooo glad I found answer to my burning question! ~ Jo

  29. HI,
    I love that I found your site…so much to read. We took the “leap” September 2012. We had been looking for an off the grid home where we could not only live, but thrive. We now are building up this 20 acre previously Amish owned farm to be our dream home. We plan to stay off grid and plan to grow much of our own food. We do all the work ourselves, building every thing we need ei: 40ft green house for our year round growing needs.

    I look forward to reading more on your site.


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