Not long ago, we received a question about worms and fruit from a reader. More precisely, the reader was curious about what type of worm lives in fruit. While we understand the question, there are two things that are misleading about it. One, there are several types of “worms” that live in fruit (or at least eat fruit), so the answer to our reader’s question won’t be singular. Two, none of the creatures that we know of that live in or consume fruit are actually worms. Rather, they are caterpillars (the larval form of moths and butterflies) or some other type of larva. For this reason, we can’t say what type of “worm lives in fruit,” but we can list a few different creatures that you might find in fruit. In doing so, we hope that we answer our reader’s question, even though we must replace his question (what kind of worm lives in fruit?) with our own (what are some common larvae that live in fruit?)
When people think of worms in fruit, they often think of apples in particular, and there are two very common pests that afflict apple trees. First, there are the larvae of codling moths. Although they are found nearly everywhere in the world, they are native to Europe. Codling moth lavrae, which are about an inch long, are an off-white color – sometimes they look a shade of light pink – and they have dark brown heads. Adult codling moths lay eggs in places like fruit buds and leaves. When the eggs develop into larvae, they make their way into the apples, creating tunnels in the fruit as they eat their way around. It is generally clear when an apple tree is afflicted with codling moths because their cocoons can be seen right in the crevices of the tree.
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Another common pest of apples (and several other fruits, for that matter) is the apple maggot. The adult form of this creature looks a bit like a common housefly, although it has a white dot on its thorax. The larval form of the creature, which is what actually causes damage to fruit, essentially looks like a regular maggot, which is to say it is a white or yellow color and it grows to be about a quarter of an inch long.
Again, apples seem to be most closely associated with worm-like pests (hence all the cartoons depicting worms in apples), so there is a reasonably good chance our reader was thinking about the apple maggot larva or the codling moth larva when he asked his question. However, for the sake of completeness, we should mention two other pests. First, it’s possible he was thinking about tomato fruitworms, which are caterpillars with pale stripes and black spots that tunnel into (not surprisingly) tomatoes. Second, he might have had cucumber worms in mind. Cucumber worms, or the larval form of cucumber beetles, are small, white creatures that eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.
So, in response to our reader’s question, any one of the creatures listed above could be “the” type of “worm” that lives in fruit. They are all common creatures (much to the chagrin of farmers), and they all live in fruit, at least when they’re hungry.
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