Eating fruit flies

Asked April 13, 2017, 11:38 AM EDT

Over the years, I dare say I've eaten a worm or two from home grown apples. I'm assuming I'm going to ingest a few fruit flies from my berry patch, now that they've moved into MN (haven't seen any yet, but my garden is small, I tend to pick as soon as stuff ripens, and I don't put up nets, so the birds eat their share, too--there's not much left to get over-ripe on the bushes). I pick off obvious pests before eating, but eggs laid inside, or very tiny bugs, may escape my detection. Are there any fruit crop insects that are currently hazardous to ingest? Just want to make sure I'm not eating some bug I really shouldn't. (Predation by me isn't a planned method of pest control....). Thanks for your time, Peg

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

Hi,

I am not aware of any particular insects, larvae, or eggs that are harmful if digested (moderation being the key of course (lol)). As far as your berry pests there have been some questions about accidental consumption of the spotted wing drosophila. Here is the answer provided by another Master Gardener:

The extension sources I researched suggest that chilling in normal refrigerator temps may be enough to deter the eggs from hatching or larvae from developing and freezing even more so: See excerpts below for ideas on care and detection:

Prompt refrigeration or freezing of fruit upon harvest will reduce losses to disease and slow the development of any eggs or larvae present. Note that there is no known risk to human health posed by ingesting SWD, so as gross as it sounds, eating a few eggs or larvae is not hazardous and they are so small you won’t even know they are there.

During picking, SWD are easier to detect. Infested fruit are soft to the touch when picked. Even fruit with larvae too small to see with the naked eye will be softer than uninfested fruit. Fruit with large larvae fall apart when picked, causing the pickers' fingers to become covered in juice. Fruit that are infested "bleed" juice onto the white receptacle. When the fruit are picked, the normally white receptacle that stays on the plant will be stained with red raspberry juice.

The largest larvae are only 1/8 of an inch long and blend in easily with the seeds and white fibers of a raspberry. Smaller larvae are difficult to see, especially in a raspberry that is not fully ripe. The best way to check for SWD larvae is to place four or five ripe raspberries in a water and salt solution (one tablespoon salt per one cup of water) in a plastic zip bag. Gently crush the fruit to break the skin. Any larvae that are present will float to the surface. Infested raspberries typically have multiple larvae. Entire article , link below may be helpful.
http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/fruit/integrated-pest-management-for-home-raspberry-...

I hope this is helpful.

-Sue W White SDSU Master Gardener Lawrence County