One of our readers recently reached out to us in concern. She explained that she ate an entire apple before noticing a mysterious brown hole on the bottom. She thinks a worm was probably living in the apple and she wonders if it could make her sick, especially if there is a chance that she might have eaten it. While she wasn’t able to take a photo of the elusive worm, she did send a picture of the apple:
Without a photo or description of the worm, there is no way that we will be able to identify it. However, we can list some worm-like organisms that eat apples, any of which might have shared this apple with our reader. No matter the creature, if our reader accidentally consumed a worm-like organism she doesn’t need to worry. Eating a worm shouldn’t cause any stress to her digestive system, and she can just think of it as a little extra protein. So, what creature was living in this apple?
One possibility is the apple maggot. Apple maggots, which are also known as railroad worms, are nearly identical to fly larvae. They have chubby white bodies and tiny brown heads. Adults lay their eggs inside of the fruit, and when the larvae emerge they begin eating the flesh of the fruit. These larvae are often hard to detect because their small size and color help them blend in with the apple. They are easily confused with another apple-loving creature: codling moth larvae.
Codling moth larvae are pinker in color and have bigger, darker brown heads than apple maggots. Unlike most caterpillars, codling moth larvae can’t feed on leaves, so they are highly dependent on the meat of the fruit. These larvae bore into fruit and cause it to ripen prematurely and fall to the ground. In addition to apples, these caterpillars eat pears, walnuts, chestnuts, and apricots.
In addition to apple maggots and codling moth larvae, there are two types of caterpillars associated with apple trees: tent caterpillars and yellownecked caterpillars. However, these caterpillars feed on the leaves of the trees, not on the actual fruit. So, it is unlikely that either of these creatures caused the brown hole in our reader’s apple.
Although we don’t know if the creature that our reader shared her apple with was an apple maggot, codling moth larva, or something else, we can say with confidence that she doesn’t need to stress about accidentally eating it! These worm-like organisms are harmless.