These small white maggots are the larvae of a fly that lays its eggs beneath the skin of peppers, eggplant and other tomato-family crops. Pepper maggot damage is similar to that of the European corn borer, and makes the fruit prone to rot. Feeding may also stunt the development of fruit and cause it to change color prematurely.
Larvae overwinter in the soil as pupa, then emerge in early summer to mate and lay eggs. Larvae feed inside the fruits for about two weeks, and then usually exit before the fruits are fully ripe. There is one generation per year. This pest is found in eastern North America and is prevalent as far west as Oklahoma.
Prevention and Control
- Set up a trap crop of hot peppers around your garden to lure pepper maggot flies away from the main crop.
- Hang yellow sticky traps above the foliage of pepper plants to attract and capture adult flies.
- At the end of the growing season, remove spent tomatoes, peppers and eggplant from the garden.
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