Super tiny bugs in store bought raspberries

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Fruit and Foliage Insect Pests

Raspberry Fruitworm (Byturus unicolor): The raspberry fruitworm is a small (1/4”) brown beetle which feeds on the flower buds and leaves of raspberry plants during the spring and early summer. Female beetles lay eggs on the flowers and green fruit. The grubs that emerge are yellowish white, and feed on the fruit, attaining about 3/8” in length. Many of the flowers and fruit can be destroyed by this insect, and the larvae may end up in the harvested fruit, greatly reducing customer appeal.

Management: There is some evidence suggesting that this insect is more of a problem in weedy plantings. If early damage is noted, (e.g., small holes chewed in flower buds and skeletonizing of leaves), cover sprays should be applied prior to bloom. Adults (beetles) tend to be most active and noticeable on plants in the early evening hours. See pest management schedule for recommended materials and timing.

Tarnished Plant Bug (Lygus lineolaris): The tarnished plant bug (TPB) is a small (1/4”) bronze-colored insect with a triangular marking on its back. The immature stage, or nymph, is smaller and bright green, resembling an aphid, but much more active. Both adults and nymphs feed on the developing flowers and fruit, sucking out plant juices with straw-like mouthparts. This results in deformed fruit, with a few to many drupelets not enlarging, depending on the severity of the damage. Such fruit tend to crumble easily, and are generally unmarketable.

Management: Controlling weeds in and around the planting may reduce populations of this insect, but insecticide sprays may be necessary, applied prebloom and repeated after petal fall. If mowing around fields, do so after insecticides have been applied (to control migrating insects). Avoid planting alfalfa (which attracts high populations of TPB) near raspberries. White sticky traps are available for monitoring tarnished plant bug adults. These traps are used as an indication of when plant bugs begin their activity in the spring and a relative indication of their abundance, not as an indication of when to control this insect. Immature TPB (nymphs) are sampled by shaking flower trusses over a flat white surface. Thirty flower clusters should be sampled evenly from across the field (typically 6 clusters at 5 locations or 5 clusters at 6 locations). If 4 or more flower clusters are infested with nymphs (regardless of how many) a spray is recommended. A follow-up spray application may be made after bloom if TPB are still present in high numbers (check harvest interval before selecting material). See pest management schedule for recommended materials and timing. Do not apply insecticides during bloom.

Strawberry Bud Weevil (Anthonomus signatus): The strawberry bud weevil or “clipper” is an important pest of strawberries, but will also attack bramble fruit. This insect is a very small beetle (1/8”) with a copper-colored body and a black head with a long snout. The female weevil chews a small hole in unopened flower buds and lays an egg in the hole. She then girdles the stem just below the bud. The flower bud dries and dangles from the stem, eventually falling to the ground. The immature weevils, or grubs, develop in the girdled buds, emerging as adults in the early summer, and then migrating to wooded areas. These insects are not always present and may only cause minimal damage in raspberries.

Management: Examine the plants before bloom, and look for dead or clipped-off buds. Insecticides which are applied prebloom for control of raspberry fruitworm may also control this insect. See pest management schedule for recommended materials and timing.

Two-Spotted Spider Mites (Tetranychus urticae): Spider mites are very small (1/50”), insect-like creatures that feed on raspberry foliage, sucking out plant juices and causing a white stippling or bronzing of the leaves. Under heavy infestations, leaves will turn brown and be covered in a fine webbing. Adults may also move onto the fruit, reducing consumer appeal by their presence. There is currently little available for chemical control of this pest.

Management: Several companies commercially produce predatory mites which feed on spider mites. These predators can be released in raspberry plantings when mite populations are low, before the population gets out of control, and may provide some control of spider mites. It is important, however to encourage natural enemies of spider mites by reducing the use of pesticides which harm natural enemies. See source list at end of this guide for predatory mites. Spider mite outbreaks have also been associated with high levels of nitrogen fertilization.

Aphids: Aphids are small, pear-shaped, soft bodied insects which feed on plant sap with straw-like sucking mouthparts. Several species of aphids ranging from 1/16” to 1/8” in size, and dull yellow to bright green in color feed on raspberries. Most are wingless and slow moving. These insects tend to congregate on the underside of leaves, where their feeding causes the leaves to curl downward and be deformed. The most damaging aspect of aphid feeding is the spread of viruses. Aphids will take in a virus from infected plants, and later inject it into healthy plants. The virus then spreads throughout the plant, resulting in symptoms such as mosaic, leaf curl or stunting.

Management: To reduce the incidence of aphids and the transmission of viruses, start with certified virus-free plants; eliminate all wild brambles from within 600 feet of the planting; apply insecticides when aphids are first noticed in a planting; and rogue out all plants which exhibit virus symptoms. See pest management schedule for recommended materials and timing. The varieties Canby, Titan and Royalty are resistant to aphid feeding.

Japanese Beetles (Popillia japonica): Japanese beetles are about 1/2” long and copper-colored, with metallic green markings. They feed on raspberry foliage, skeletonizing the leaves during the mid and late summer. The larvae, or grubs, live in the soil, feeding on roots of grasses until late fall.

Management: The beetles can be controlled with insecticide sprays. However, pay close attention to days to harvest restrictions if fruit is present. Traps are available which use a sex and/or feeding attractant to capture the bugs in a can or plastic bag, but such traps generally do not provide adequate control. Place traps at least 100’ away from the planting. Traps placed within a planting may cause localized damage from beetles which are attracted to, but don’t fall into the trap.

Yellowjackets: Yellowjackets (aka hornets or wasps), are black and yellow stinging insects. They are closely related to the larger bald-faced hornets. Both groups of these insects are very aggressive and will sting with little provocation.

There are several species of these wasps found in the Northeast and, depending on the species, may build underground nests, large paper nests in trees or on houses. Many scavenge food, often dead insects or pieces of flesh from dead animals. Yellowjackets also have a great fondness for ripe fruit and can be found on pears, apples, raspberries, etc.

This fondness for fruit makes this insect a severe nuisance pest in raspberries, especially fall bearing varieties. They are a danger and annoyance to pickers. To help discourage the yellowjacket from feeding on raspberries, be sure to harvest berries as soon as they begin to ripen, even though there may be only a few early berries. Once the yellowjackets have discovered the berries, it is almost impossible to discourage them.

Management: Insecticide sprays for control of yellowjackets are not effective or recommended unless you know where a nest is and can eradicate it with a household hornet spray. This is best done in the evening when most of the members of the colony are in the nest. Yellowjackets can be discouraged by sanitation, which is regular and thorough, picking of all berries as soon as they begin to ripen, and frequent removal of overripe fruit and fruit debris.

There are many yellowjacket traps on the market, and various baits have been used with some success. Our (eastern) species of yellowjackets do not respond to trapping as well as western species. Different baits and traps may have to be tried to determine if any traps/baits will work in a particular raspberry planting. If traps are to be used, the key to success is to get the traps out early. Once yellowjackets have found the ripened fruit, the traps will probably not be of much help.

Potato Leafhopper (Empoasca fabae): Nymphs and adults are small (1/8”) green soft bodied insects. They move very quickly, often sideways, when disturbed. The potato leafhopper feeds on the underside of leaves leaving small chlorotic areas and causing a downward cupping of the leaves. Most feeding is on the upper, more succulent leaves on primocanes and often causes a stunting of those canes.

Management: This pest does not overwinter in New England but is brought up every year from the south on storm fronts. Insecticide applications may be needed when damage is observed. Plants recover quickly once these applications are made and normal growth resumes.

Brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) (Halyomorpha halys): Adult BMSB are approximately 3/4 inch long and are shades of brown on both the upper and lower body surfaces. They are the typical “shield” shape of other stink bugs, almost as wide as they are long. To distinguish them from other stink bugs, look for lighter bands on the antennae and darker bands on the membranous, overlapping part at the rear of the front pair of wings; a black and white triangle shaped pattern along the edge of the abdomen; and rounded shoulder tips. Masses of 20-30 eggs are laid on underside of leaves. The 5 nymphal stages range in size from 1/8 – 1/2 inch. Nymphs and adult BMSB feed on many hosts including small fruits, tree fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, and seeded crops such as corn and soybeans. BMSB feeds by puncturing the fruit with piercing/sucking mouthparts, and injecting saliva which allows the insect to suck up the plant material through its mouthparts.

BMSB has become a serious insect pest throughout much of the mid-Atlantic states and southern New York. BMSB is known to be in all New England states and since 2014 has become an agricultural pest in southern New England.

Spotted wing Drosophila (SWD) (Drosophila suzukii): SWD are invasive vinegar flies (fruit flies) that can attack unripened fruit. Female SWD cut into intact fruit with their serrated ovipositor to lay eggs under the skin. This allows larvae of SWD to be present during ripening, leading to a risk of detection in ripe fruit after harvest. There is a greater risk of fruit contamination at harvest from SWD compared with native species that lay eggs only in already-damaged and rotting fruit. SWD seem to prefer brambles over all other hosts.

Management: Monitor bramble plantings with traps baited with apple cider vinegar plus ethanol alcohol (90% apple cider vinegar plus 10% ethanol) and/or fermenting yeast; or purchase commercially available traps and lures. Contact Cooperative Extension in your state for information on latest trapping techniques. Once SWD are found in traps or in ripening fruit, apply insecticides weekly through harvest, rotating between insecticide classes. Choose insecticides based on efficacy and preharvest interval. Most insecticides will be made more effective by adding sugar to stimulate SWD feeding. Add 1-2 pounds of white sugar per 100 gallons of spray mixture.

Cane Insect Pests

Cane Borers: Raspberries are attacked by two types of cane borers. The raspberry cane borer is a 1/2” long, slender black beetle with an orange band just below the head and has long antennae. The female beetles girdle the tips of young raspberry canes by chewing two rings, about a half inch apart, around the stems about 6″ to 8” below the top. An egg is inserted into the cane between the two girdled rings. When the larvae, or grubs, emerge, they feed inside the cane, tunneling downward, and eventually destroying the cane. Soon after the cane tips are girdled, they wilt, blacken, and may fall off.

Management: As soon as the wilted tips are noticed, they should be cut off several inches below the lowest girdle mark. Remove the infested tips from the field and destroy them. Also eliminate any wild brambles near the field which may be harboring this pest.

The red necked cane borer is 1/4” long, slender, black with a “coppery” neck. Unlike the raspberry cane borer, it has short antennae. The red necked cane borer also causes a different sort of damage. The females insert an egg into young canes, usually within 10” of the base of the cane from late spring through mid-summer. They do not girdle the cane, but the presence of the egg, and later the grub, causes a swelling in the cane which can vary in length from 1/2” to nearly 3”. Larvae feeding within the canes weakens them and many may break off. Remove any canes showing swelling near the base.

Root and Crown Insect Pests

Raspberry Crown Borer (Pennisetia marginata): The adult phase of raspberry crown borer is an attractive clear-winged moth which resembles a wasp. These moths lay eggs on the underside of raspberry leaves in late July and August. When the eggs hatch, the young larvae crawl down the cane and into the soil to overwinter. The following spring, they bore into the base of the raspberry canes and feed on the plant tissue. This feeding interrupts the flow of water and nutrients to the cane, causing them to wilt and become weak and spindly. Early symptoms may include browning of the leaf margins on new canes. Eventually, the entire crown may die. Infected canes are easily pulled out of the ground.

Management: Elimination of all wild brambles in the area can reduce local populations of this pest.

Raspberry – Blackberry Insects

1) Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles are metallic, coppery-brown and green, 1/4-inch-long beetles that often feed in large numbers, damaging the fruit and skeletonizing the foliage.

Control/Prevention – Spray Schedule

2) Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs

3) Cane Borers

The following three species of borers can infest brambles. No pesticide treatments are recommended. Prune damaged canes back into healthy wood.

  • Raspberry cane borers make two girdling rings of punctures about 1/2-inch apart and within 6 inches of the shoot tip, causing the cane tip to wilt suddenly. The damage is quite visible but has little effect on the quality or quantity of the crop.

Photo: Bruce Watt, University of

raspberry cane borer damage to canes

Photo: Jon Yuschock,


  • Raspberry crown borers can be very damaging to the bramble planting if not controlled. The large (1/2-inch to 3/4-inch) larvae tunnel into the base of the crown of the plant causing the canes to be stunted or to wither and die.

Photo:University of Georgia
Plant Pathology , University of

Crown borer larva

Photo:University of Georgia Plant
Pathology , University of Georgia,

Crown borer adult

  • Rednecked borers are insects that cause small to large gall-like swellings with split bark on the canes. Cane damage in the first year is more serious than damage to older canes because the wounds on younger canes provide a weakened spot for invasion by canker fungi and breakage by wind.

Photo: James Solomon, USDA Forest

Swellings on canes

Photo: Susan Ellis,

Adult rednecked cane borer

Control/Prevention – Spray Schedule

4) Sap Beetles and Yellowjackets

Photo: Joseph Berger,

sap beetle


Sap beetles and yellowjackets are extremely common and pose problems when they attack ripening fruits in large numbers. They feed largely on soft, overripe, and rotting fruits and vegetables and can be controlled by good sanitation in and around the planting and by harvesting ripe fruits regularly. Do not allow fruit to become overripe. For sap beetles, place plastic funnel traps (plastic soda bottles) in rows filled with vinegar, molasses, and water to capture this pest.

5) Spotted wing drosophila (SWD), Drosophila suzukii

Control/Prevention – Spray Schedule

Control/Prevention – Spray Schedule

General Disease and Insect Pest Control Recommendations

Home Fruit Preventative Spray Schedule and Management of Common Problems

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Natural Home Pesticides: Organic Garden Pest Control

Organic garden pest control is on the minds of many gardeners these days. Natural home pesticides are not only easy to make, they are cheaper and safer than many products you can buy on store shelves. Let’s take a look at some natural insect repellents you can make for the garden.

How to Make Natural Pesticide

The best way how to make natural pesticide is to use natural products that you have laying around your house. Garden pests are repelled or killed by a surprising number of safe and natural products. Here are a few natural insect repellent recipes:

Organic Garden Pest Control Recipe #1

  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon dish soap (Note: do not use a dish soap that contains bleach)
  • 2 tablespoons mineral or vegetable oil
  • 2 cups water

Peel the garlic cloves and puree the cloves along with the oil and water. Allow to sit over night and then strain the mixture. Add the soap and mix toughly. Pour into a spray bottle and use on pest infected plants.

Organic Garden Pest Control Recipe #2

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon dish soap or Murphy Oil (Note: do not use a dish soap that contains bleach)
  • 2 quart of water

Combine ingredients and pour into a spray bottle. Use this organic bug spray for plants on your affected plants.

Organic Garden Pest Control Recipe #3

  • 1/2 cup chopped hot peppers (the hotter the better)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons dish soap (Note: do not use a dish soap that contains bleach)

Puree peppers and water. Let sit overnight. Strain carefully (this will burn your skin) and mix in dish soap. Pour into a spray bottle and spray this organic bug spray for plants on your buggy plants.

Natural home pesticides are exactly like chemical pesticides in one very important way. Organic bug spray for plants will kill any bug in comes in contact with, whether a pest bug or a beneficial bug. It is always best before mixing up any natural insect repellent recipes to think hard how much damage pests are really doing to your garden.

You may be doing more damage to your plants by killing the bugs than the bugs were doing to your plants.

BEFORE USING ANY HOMEMADE MIX: It should be noted that anytime you use a home mix, you should always test it out on a small portion of the plant first to make sure that it will not harm the plant. Also, avoid using any bleach-based soaps or detergents on plants since this can be harmful to them. In addition, it is important that a home mixture never be applied to any plant on a hot or bright sunny day, as this will quickly lead to burning of the plant and its ultimate demise.

Managing Japanese beetles in fruit crops

Japanese beetles have only one generation per year, but these beetles emerge over a long period from late June through August and they live for over 30 days. They feed on the foliage and fruit of various fruit crops grown in Michigan, causing damage to the plant and increasing the risk of fungal diseases. Their emergence during mid-summer can also result in their presence during harvest of some fruit crops, creating a risk of contamination. They are also highly mobile insects and can fly into fields from surrounding areas. This article provides information on insecticide options based on tests over the past few years conducted at the Trevor Nichols Research Complex and at grower’s farms.

Making your farm less attractive to beetles

Many farms have sodded row middles and perimeters around fields, with irrigation being broadcast during the summer months. This is done for good farm management reasons, but it also creates ideal conditions for Japanese beetles to lay eggs since they prefer to lay eggs in mown grass and in moist soil. While it may not make sense to do this in all farm situations, removing the grass or using a non-grass cover crop in row middles, or restricting irrigation to the crop row through a drip system are all approaches to reduce the suitability of sites for reproduction of this pest.

Japanese beetles are about 12 mm long. Photo credit: Rufus Isaacs, MSUE

Certain weeds are another magnet for Japanese beetles. Beetles are much more abundant in crop fields where there is poor control of wild raspberry, blackberry, Virginia creeper, wild grape or sassafras. These weeds are highly attractive and beetles will aggregate on these plants and then lay eggs in the soil nearby. Plan now for a fall application of herbicide to control these plants and reduce the attractiveness of your fields.

While growers select their fruit crop cultivars based on many criteria other than insect susceptibility, there are some cultivars of apple, blueberry and raspberry that are highly attractive to Japanese beetles and are more likely to have feeding injury. These include Honeycrisp apples, Bluecrop blueberries and Chinook and Heritage raspberries. However, it is difficult to generalize about this issue of susceptibility because Japanese beetles will select the most susceptible of the cultivars available in a field. So, a low-ranked cultivar could be attacked more if it is the most attractive of the cultivars present.

High tunnels

A recent trend in fruit production is the increasing use of high tunnels to protect fruit from rain. We have also observed that this approach to fruit growing can significantly reduce the activity of Japanese beetles on fruit. While they may move into plantings at the end of tunnels where there is direct sunlight, densities are much lower compared with plantings out in full sunlight.

A few thoughts about trapping

Traps are sold widely for Japanese beetle monitoring and control. However, these insects are very easy to see so they can be monitored by looking directly at the crop – you will know when they are present from the feeding damage and by seeing the beetles. Traps are highly attractive and draw beetles to them over large distances, so putting a trap near your crop fields will draw beetles from the surrounding landscape.

Many of the attracted female beetles do not get trapped and end up landing on foliage nearby and feeding or mating then laying eggs in the soil near the trap, so this creates a hot-spot for next season. Mass trapping of beetles is also not economically feasible in commercial fruit plantings and there is little evidence that this strategy will work to reduce beetle populations and crop injury. The take-home message is that traps should be avoided because they will not help reduce Japanese beetle damage in fruit crops.

Broad-spectrum insecticide options

The carbamates Sevin and Lannate provide immediate control of beetles present during the application. They are also stomach poisons, so if beetles eat treated foliage they will also receive a higher dose. This can be a good property for control of Japanese beetles since they eat so much that a strong dose of insecticide is taken up. Lannate has a short residual activity of a few days, whereas Sevin provides a week or more of protection. Sevin has a three- or seven-day pre-harvest interval (PHI), depending on the crop, and Lannate ranges from 3- to 14-days.

The organophosphates Guthion and Imidan (buffer Imidan to pH 6.0 in the spray tank) both provide excellent lethal activity on adult beetles, although it can take a few days for their effects on Japanese beetles to be seen as the beetles take up the insecticide. If considering Guthion, beware of the 2011 restrictions on the total amount of this insecticide allowed this season as part of the EPA phase-out – see the label for details. These organophosphates provide 10 to 14 days of activity, with a 3- to 21-day PHI, depending on the crop.

The pyrethroids Danitol, Asana, Brigade, Baythroid, Mustang Max, Warrior and Capture give instant knockdown and mortality of adult beetles, with 7 to 10 days of activity. Beetles that do not receive a lethal dose of pyrethroid may also be repelled from treated fields, providing an additional mode for reducing infestation of crops at harvest. PHI’s for pyrethroid insecticides vary from 1 to 14 days and can be different in different crops, so check the label before use or consult the table at the back of the 2011 edition of the MSU Fruit Management Guide to compare PHI’s.

Reduced-risk insecticides

The labeling of the neonicotinoids Provado, Actara, Assail, Belay, Scorpion and Clutch for use in some fruit crops provides selective options for Japanese beetle management. These insecticides provide two to five days of lethal activity from the surface residues before being absorbed into the foliage. Thereafter, beetles must eat treated foliage to get a dose of the insecticide. Once inside the foliage, these locally-systemic insecticides are rainfast and provide repellency and knockdown activity, but with much less direct mortality from the residues. These neonicotinoids will also provide some control over aphids and leafhoppers. The rate of these insecticides allowed in different crops will have a large impact on their effectiveness, and growers should consider the higher end of the rate range to achieve some lasting control of Japanese beetles. Most labels will provide guidance on the rate that is appropriate for control of this pest.

Avaunt is now labeled for use in grapes with Japanese beetle, grape berry moths and leafhoppers (suppression only) on the label. Pre-mixed insecticides such as Voliam Flexi may contain one active ingredient targeting moth pests and another that is active on Japanese beetles. In the case of this insecticides, the same active ingredient as Actara is present in Voliam Flexi to provide some control of beetle feeding. It is prudent to examine the rates of each active ingredient in these pre-mixes to determine whether a pre-mix is right for your insect pest control needs.

Short PHI and organic options

For growers looking for beetle control immediately before harvest or in organically grown fruit crops, some selective insecticides with zero day PHI’s can provide a tool to repel beetles and help achieve beetle-free fruit during harvest. Compounds containing neem (Azadirect, Neemix) have a zero-day PHI and pyrethrum (Pyganic) has a 12-hour PHI. These compounds are labeled for organic use, and have a short but effective impact on adult Japanese beetles with some mortality, some knockdown off the crop and some repellent activity.

Typically, there is only one to two days of activity against beetles because the residues do not remain active for long. The non-organic form of Pyganic, called Evergreen, also has a 12-hour PHI and is much more effective against Japanese beetle than Pyganic due to the addition of a chemical that inhibits the beetle’s ability to break down the insecticide. A final option for protection against Japanese beetle is SURROUND WP, a white clay material applied to create a white coating on the surface of foliage and fruit to provide protection against insects. When applied to provide a good coating (typically requiring two or more applications), SURROUND has performed very well against Japanese beetles in trials conducted in blueberry and grape. If considering this approach to Japanese beetle control, be aware that the white coating on the fruit may require some removal after harvest to make the fruit marketable. This may be challenging for some types of fruit. For example, in blueberries, the white residue was removed well from the surface during processing, but deposits in the calyx cup were not removed even after running berries through a typical wet processing line with food grade detergents.

Soil-applied insecticides

Japanese beetles typically lay their eggs in moist, grassy areas and many fruit farms have a large amount of this highly suitable habitat. An additional approach to reducing the impact of Japanese beetles in a farm is to reduce the overall population by targeting the grub stage of this pest to reduce the abundance of beetles in the following year. If the location of high grub densities near fruit fields is known, these areas could be treated with a soil insecticide to get maximum return on this treatment. Our experience in Michigan blueberry fields has been that application of Admire (16 oz/acre) to grassy field perimeters in late June and early July reduced the abundance of beetles on bushes for the first few weeks of their flight period in the next growing season. After that, beetles flying into the area from outside swamped out this effect, so there is only a short-lived benefit from targeting the grubs in fields surrounded by infested grassy areas. However, as part of an overall IPM program to minimize the impact of Japanese beetles, this approach can help reduce the number of beetles growers must control. Platinum is another soil-applied insecticide that can be used for this grub-control strategy.

The work of Dr. Isaacs and Dr. Wise is funded in part by MSU’s AgBioResearch.

Beetles On My Raspberries – Knowledgebase Question

Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus ‘Heritage’)
Posted by Paul2032
Japanese beetles are probably the most common beetle found on raspberries. Most gardeners become familiar with this large iridescent beetle which spends about 6 weeks every summer munching its way through the leaves of many plants. Picking them in their early morning sluggish state is the best control for Japanese beetles.
Two other bugs also commonly attack these brambles. The small (1/4″) black picnic bug, also known as the sap beetle, feeds on ripening fruit at picking time. Harvesting frequently keeps picnic bugs at bay. Setting “traps” of rotting melon and other fruits a short distance from the raspberries also works. Be sure to destroy the feasting picnic bugs daily!
The raspberry fruitworm is a tiny (1/7″) yellow-brown beetle that feeds on the flower buds and leaves during the spring. After laying their eggs on the buds, little yellow worms bore through the bud, finally developing into full grown larvae which eat the fruit.
Both picnic bugs and raspberry fruitworms can be controlled with good sanitation habits. Keeping the area free of weeds so the adult picnic beetles and fruitworm larvae don’t have a place to overwinter. Cultivating in late summer also reduces overwintering insects.
Earwigs are night feeders on leaves of some plants. The only way to discover them is with a flashlight at night. Since they are night time feeders, earwigs can be trapped in hollow tubes, such as bamboo or sections of garden hose, left out in the garden. Dump the traps each morning in soapy water. They also overwinter so keep the area clean and cultivate in fall.
Homegrown raspberries are definitely worth the effort!

Yard and Garden: Insect Pests of Raspberry Fruit

AMES, Iowa – Raspberry plants are relatively easy to grow, and are hardy and productive in most of Iowa. If given proper care, a 100-foot-long row of red raspberries can produce 100 to 150 pints of fruit. However, several insects also like raspberries. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach horticulturists share tips on controlling these uninvited guests. To have additional questions answered, contact the horticulture hotline at [email protected] or call 515-294-3108.

There are small, black beetles feeding on my raspberries. What can I do?

The small, black beetles are likely sap beetles. They also are known as picnic beetles or picnic bugs. Sap beetles commonly feed on over-ripe or damaged fruits and vegetables in the garden.

Sanitation is the best management strategy for sap beetles in home gardens. Keep the raspberry planting as clean as possible by promptly harvesting ripe fruit and removing damaged, diseased and over-ripe fruit from the site.

Insecticides are not very effective and difficult to use because of preharvest intervals (the wait time between a pesticide application and when a crop can be harvested). If you decide to use an insecticide, select a product with a short preharvest interval and read and carefully follow label directions.

There are small, white worms in my raspberries. What are they and how can they be controlled?

The small, white worms are likely the larvae of the spotted wing drosophila. Spotted wing drosophila adults are small, yellowish brown flies. Males have distinctive dark spots on their wings, hence the name spotted wing drosophila. Female adults have serrated, saw-like ovipositors and lay eggs in soft, ripening fruit. Spotted wing drosophila larvae are white, 1/8-inch-long maggots.

Spotted wing drosophila feed on soft, thin-skinned fruit. Their preferred food choices are raspberries (especially fall cultivars), blackberries and blueberries. However, they also feed on grapes, strawberries, cherries and aronia berries.

Control of spotted wing drosophila is difficult. In the home garden, sanitation is the most practical control measure. Promptly harvest ripe fruit. Remove and dispose of over-ripe, damaged or rotting fruit. Dispose of berries in a manner that prevents flies from emerging and infesting additional fruit. Insecticides are a possible control option. However, most commonly available garden insecticides have preharvest intervals of several days, making their application to ripening fruit impractical. If you decide to use an insecticide, select one with a short preharvest interval (such as one day) and carefully read and follow label directions.

How do I stop yellow jackets from feeding on my raspberries?

Yellow jackets are social wasps that build paper nests in the ground, logs, building walls, attics or other sites. The workers from the colony travel up to a few hundred yards from the nest while looking for food. In early summer, the wasps forage for caterpillars and other “meat” items and are beneficial predators. However, in late summer they prefer sweets, such as soda pop, candy and the juices of fruits and vegetables.

Discourage yellow jackets from feeding on raspberries by harvesting the fruit as soon as they ripen. Remove any over-ripe or damaged fruit from the garden area. Do not leave beverages, candy, or other food items in the vicinity of the raspberries, as they may attract yellow jackets to the area.

Applications of insecticides to raspberries are of very limited benefit and difficult to use because of preharvest intervals. Yellow jacket nests in the ground, logs or walls can be destroyed by placing an insecticide dust in and around the nest entrance during the night.

Photo credit: vaitekune/

Keep Pests off Your Raspberry Fruit

Raspberry fruit is vulnerable to damage from both disease and insects. Good pest control habits can reduce the risk of your plants and fruit being ruined by these bugs. Prune raspberries properly and visually inspect them often. The simple act of keeping wild brambles out of your bushes will reduce the need for insecticides even as it reduces the likelihood of pests. Some pests attack the canes of the plants while others ruin the raspberry fruit.

TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Susan Patterson adds, “Consider netting your fruit to reduce pest damage.”

Picnic Beetle

The least worrisome raspberry fruit pest is probably the picnic beetle, because it only feasts on fruit that’s already overripe and neglected. A picnic beetle is black with four yellow-orange spots on its back and is typically about a 1/4-inch long. These beetles aren’t drawn to raspberry fruit specifically, but to other plants and fruits in the garden. The best way to prevent damage from these beetles is to pick your raspberries and other fruit as soon as they are ripe. Don’t leave fruit on the vine to become overripe. Insecticides aren’t very effective against this particular pest.

Raspberry Fruitworm

The fruitworm is distinguishable from the picnic beetle by its shorter length (about an 1/8-inch long), its light brown color and hairy appearance. The female fruitworm lays its eggs on the buds and fruits in the late spring. When the eggs hatch, they look like tiny yellow worms. They eat the fruit during the 6 weeks before they drop from the plants and pupate. They stay cocooned in the soil this way through the winter and then in late spring, usually May, adult beetles emerge and the process begins again.
While the adult beetles aren’t destructive, the fruitworm larvae eats the berries. Look for early signs of infestation including fruit dropping to the ground or rotting before harvest time. If present, the larvae are visible on the fruit. The best defense against fruitworms is to turn the soil in early fall to allow the cocooned worms to be removed by weather and predators. You can also pick adult beetles from the plants. If desired, insecticide can be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Raspberry Bud Moth

Again, adult bud moths are not a threat to raspberry fruit, but the larvae is destructive enough to prevent the plant from producing any fruit at all. The larvae get inside the plant through an unopened bud and destroy it from the inside out. Careful insecticide use according the manufacturer’s directions is really the only way to keep this pest from destroying your raspberry fruit.

TIP: Susan suggests, “Try dusting plants with natural diatomaceous earth to keep pests at bay.”

Raspberry Pest Identification

Raspberry Cane Borer

The adult raspberry cane borer (Oberea bimaculata ) appears in June, and is a slender black beetle about 12.5 mm (1/2 inch) long. It can be recognized by the yellow band near its head and its prominent antennae. The beetle cuts 2 rings around the stem about 2.5 cm (I inch) apart and 10-20 cm (4-8 inches) below the shoot tip. An egg is laid between the rings and the top wilts and dies (Fig. 1). When the egg hatches the larva bores into the pith and feeds until it overwinters just below the point of girdling. The next season the larva bores down to the base of the cane and overwinters at or below ground level. Pupation occurs in the spring and the adults emerge. As only a few plants are usually attacked in any one year, control can be achieved by cutting off the affected canes below the point of girdling.

Winter Damage on Raspberry

Raspberry canes may be damaged during the winter in any of the following ways: snow breakage, tip dieback and topkill (Fig. 2). Snow breakage occurs from snow pushing down on or against the canes causing them to break. Control is best achieved by modifying or removing the obstacles (ie: hedges) which cause the snow to drift around the canes. In areas where tip dieback and topkill occur year after year, delay the heading back operation until the spring and cut off the dead areas of the canes in the process. All topkilled canes should also be removed at ground level at this time. Differences in susceptibility to winter damage exists between respberry varieties.


Anthracnose, caused by the fungus Elsinoe veneta , can be identified by the small 3 mm (1/8 inch) grey spots with purple borders that appear on leaves, petioles (Fig. 3) and canes (Fig. 5). These become large irregular blotches when two or more spots grow together. As the disease progresses, infected tissue in the leaf often drops out leaving holes, lesions on canes become sunken and the bark frequently cracks. Small black bodies which contain spores, form in the grey area of these lesions in the fall and following spring. The spores are carried by splashing rain to infect other plants. For control see Spur Blight.

Late Yellow Rust

Late yellow rust, caused by the fungus Pucciniastrum americanum , is usually considered a minor problem in raspberries. However this disease can become quite severe on susceptible varieties such as Festival. The greatest losses from late yellow rust occurs when the yellow rust pustules develop on the fruit rendering it unmarketable (Fig. 4). The rust may also cause defoliation and stem cankers on infected plants Usually these symptoms develop following harves . The fungus cycles from raspberry to spruce and back to raspberry. Therefore removal of the spruce from the perimeter of the field may be beneficial in reducing the disease. Old canes should be pruned out after fruiting is completed. Fungicides are available to control this disease.

Raspberry Sawfly

The raspberry sawfly (Priophorus morio ) is a black four winged insect which emerges in May or June and lays eggs on the terminal leaves of first year canes. These eggs hatch into spiny, pale green larvae which are almost the same colour as the leaf, making detection difficult. Larval feeding causes irregular shaped white lacy areas to appear on the leaves (Fig. 6). In heavy infestations all of the leaf except the midrib and large veins may be consumed. When the larvae are fully grown 12.5 -17 mm (1/2 – 2/3 inch) they drop to the ground and form cocoons in the soil where they overwinter. Injury from this insect is seldom serious enough to warrant control.

Boron Deficiency

Boron deficiency symptoms are usually confined to plants grown under conditions of moisture stress. The leaves of these plants are puckered and distorted, and have reduced leaf blades. These symptoms may occur in a band on the first year cane, with normal leaves present both below and above (Fig. 7). This band corresponds to a growth period in which the plant experienced water stress. Tissue analysis done on newly emerged distorted leaves will indicate boron levels less than 20 ppm. Older leaves although, they will still show distortion, will have normal boron levels once moisture stress is alleviated. This disorder can be controlled by ensuring adequate soil moisture.

Two Spotted Spider Mites

Spider mites, due to their size are best seen with the aid of a hand lens. As they are hard to detect on a leaf they can be seen more easily by tapping the underside of the leaf over a sheet of white paper to dislodge the mites. Spider mites are most injurious to raspberries in hot dry weather. They feed by sucking plant juices. This causes a fine white to yellow speckling to appear on the foliage making the plant appear pale and unhealthy (Fig. 8). When damage is extensive the leaves turn brown and drop. Their undersides are covered in fine webbing with the mites located below it. Spider mites overwinter as adults under leaf litter or trash and in the soil at the base of the plant. They emerge in spring to lay eggs on undersides of leaves.

Spur Blight

Spur blight, caused by the fungus Didymella applanata , is common and widespread on all red raspberries. The symptoms first appear on the lower part of the first year cane. Violet to brown areas form at the point of leaf attachment to the cane (Figs. 9 & 10). These spots may remain small and distinct or enlarge and coalesce to involve the entire cane. On fruiting canes the diseased area is grey with numerous small black fruiting bodies which contain spores (Fig. 11). This disease weakens the canes, causing reduced nutrient translocation which results in yield loss. The greatest damage caused by spur blight is the infection of the buds (spurs) which produce next years fruiting laterals. These buds once infected may be greatly weakened or killed causing considerable yield loss. Cultural practices usually provide adequate control. Keep rows narrow 45-50 em (18 – 20 inches) to allow good air movement and encourage drying which will reduce the number of infections. Prune out fruiting canes and diseased first year canes immediately after harvest. Mulching is not recommended as it favors the disease. Chemical control is available.

Raspberry Cane Maggot

The adult cane maggot (Pegomya rubivora ) which closely resembles a small housefly, appears -in early spring and lays eggs in the tips of shoots. These eggs hatch in 4-6 days and the larvae (maggots) bore about 15 cin (6 inches) down into the pith (Fig. 12) then turn outward and girdle the shoot. The top of the shoot above the girdled area wilts and dies. Although the damage is similar to cane borer damage it occurs earlier and no external girdling is visible. The maggot continues boring down through the pith to the base of the plant where it pupates and overwinters. For control see Raspberry Cane Borer. The cane maggot seldom causes serious injury to raspberry.

Grey Mold

Grey mold caused by the fungus Botrytis cinerea is the most common cause of fruit rot. This disease can be especially damaging during prolonged wet or humid weather at bloom or harvest time. The fungus infects flowers, flower stalks and fruit at all stages of development. Infected fruit rots and becomes covered in a dense grey fuzzy growth containing the spores of the fungus (Fig. 13). These spores when released infect other raspberry plants. Following infection symptoms may not develop on mature fruit until after harvest, in which case rot may spread within the container. This type of loss can be prevented by only harvesting and packing sound berries. Raspberry canes may also become infected with Botrytis. Infection usually occurs in areas of the canes damaged by winter injury, pruning, insects or other diseases. The infected area turns grey and is usually covered with small black specks. The fungus overwinters on diseased canes and plant debris. To control this disease, prune plants to allow good air circulation. Remove and destroy old canes after harvest. Chemical control is available.

Leaf Curl Virus

Raspberry leaf curl virus causes similar foliar symptoms as those seen on plants with boron deficiency. Infected plants appear weak and spindly, the canes are very erect and bear dull chlorotic cupped leaves (Fig. 14). Control may be obtained through roguing the plantation. Remove all infected plants including their root system and destroy them immediately. Failure to destroy the plants may permit the vector aphid to move to uninfected plants and transmit the virus. Destroy all wild raspberry plants within 150 rn (500 feet) of the plantation as they may harbour both the aphid and the virus. In new plantings use only certified virus free transplants.


Mosaic virus, once transmitted by its aphid vector, becomes systemic causing the entire plant including all new suckers to be infected. The characteristic leaf mottling (randomly scattered patches of yellow and green) caused by this disease (Fig. 15) can most easily be seen on new growth in early summer. However, it should be noted that these symptoms may be confused with those of two spotted spider-mite damage. As infected plants lose vigor, cane dwarfing occurs and marketable fruit are no longer produced. Inspection, followed by roguing of infected plants including their root system should begin in early June. Rogued plants should be destroyed immediately. Destroy all wild raspberry plants within 150 m (500 feet) of the plantation as they may harbour both the aphid and the virus. In new plantings use only certified virus free transplants.

Root and Crown Rot

Root and crown rot of raspberry are caused by the soil borne fungi Phytophthora sp. and Rhizoctonia sp. Plants infected by either of these fungi often have brown lesions on their main roots and fine roots are usually sparse or lacking. This causes plants to become dwarfed or yellow. These plants frequently wilt and die during the summer. Poorly drained, compacted soil or high parasitic nematode populations predispose plants to infection. Control is obtained by correcting soil limitations. Fumigation for nematodes or fungicide soil drench applied in the fall may aid in control.


Nematodes are small semi-transparent worms that live in the water film surrounding soil particles. They are invisible to the unaided eye and therefore, can only be detected by laboratory procedures. Nematodes feed on or in the plant root system causing plants to appear unthrifty and yield poorly. The leaves of affected plants are often small, bunchy and poorly coloured, while root systems are often sparse and bunchy. Other root diseases may be aggravated by nematode feeding. Your local Agricultural Representative can provide you with information on nematode sampling procedures.

To obtain chemical control recommendations for any of these strawberry pests, please consult the current edition of the Atlantic Provinces Strawberry Protection Guide or consult your local Agricultural Representative.

Publication Funded by Agriculture Canada and the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture under the Canada/New Brunswick Agri-Food Agreement (1984-1989)

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