Elderberries - little white worms

Lin Posts: 10 ✭✭✭

I just harvested over 10 pounds of elderberries from our trees. While pulling all those little berries off their stems I noticed some tiny little white worms. I removed what I saw, but I'm sure there must be many more. Anyone have any idea what they are and would they be harmful to humans? I'm inclined to use the berries since we will be cooking them down, extracting the juice and double straining them for use in syrup and jelly. But, am wondering if I should...

Thanks for any input! Linda


  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,500 admin

    That sounds like the tiny white worms we've found in our raspberries & Nanking cherries for 5 years or so. This year, they seemed to not be there. (So thankful!)

    It was a maggot of a certain fly. I will have to see if I can find the name of it again.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,500 admin

    @Lin Here is the information:

    Spotted Wing Drosophila

    Does this sound like what you have?

  • Sandy Forest
    Sandy Forest Posts: 28 ✭✭✭
    edited October 2022

    Sounds like the maggots we have had where I am for a few years, maybe the same 5 years as @LaurieLovesLearning. We are in Northern Wisconsin, Lat. 47. What I remember reading at about that time was that a new Droosphila/fruit fly had migrated from more southerly latitudes with a mutation that made it possible to survive Northern Winters. It appeared in my wild raspberry patch that first year, and still does.

    The next year I found them in my strawberry patch, which is in my big garden space about 300 feet north across some woods.

    I nearly pitched them over the fence in disgust, but caught my arm in mid-hurl and bagged them for a session in my freezer before composting.

    The next year there wee no maggots in my strawberries. If I see any, I use the same maggot freezing procedure.

    Our chickens eat the raspberries, and particularly relish the buggy ones. We compost their manure, and the flies do not seem to survive chicken digestion, either.

    I am going to trust in Nature and let a natural competitor figure out how to get them out of my raspberry patch. It is real wild, including wandering into a predator-rich marsh that is difficult to traverse, so cleaning up all the berries for a couple of years in a row would be difficult to pursue. It maybe that all the wild critters that eat up the ripe, overripe and fallen berries will someday eventually get them all before another season's fruit flies hatch.

    I do not have quite the same laissez-faire outlook for my strawberry patch. That one gets the Tanglefoot and resolute clean-up strategy, since we don't use sugar, and making jam or other kinds of fruit canning don't appeal to me.

    It is great to know salted water will deactivate them. I have also read that 1 cup of vinegar in a basin of water will remove contaminants and infestations. Somehow salted maggots doesn't sound as appealing as pickled ones, and I will try the vinegar solution next summer.

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,132 ✭✭✭✭

    Oh my! I found some small white worms in some of my black berries this summer. I quit eating the berries when I found them.

  • Jaylene
    Jaylene Posts: 53 ✭✭✭

    I found them in my blackberries this year as well. I live in San Diego. I am not sure if they are the same thing, but they were little, white squirmy worms. Ugh!

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,500 admin
    edited October 2022

    @Jaylene It is certainly possible. These flies were said to have come from south of our border. They are more common where it is warmer year round.

    They were different from the little worms that were sometimes found in raspberries/other berries. We found that every single little juice pouch around the seeds had its own little maggot.

  • Deb113
    Deb113 Posts: 42 ✭✭✭

    Just put in elderberries, gonna watch out for these. Tho my blackberries have nothing…..yet. Thank you.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,500 admin

    @Deb113 Hopefully all of your berries stay maggot free!

  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 733 ✭✭✭✭

    I think its a rule that blackberries have to have worms😁