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Apple Maggot

Rhagoletis pomonella

Author: Esther McGinnis


  • Apple maggot is the most common apple insect pest in North Dakota.
  • Beginning in early July, the adult fly pierces the apple skin to lay an egg which creates a dimple that is visible in the apple’s exterior.
  • After hatching, the larvae or maggots begin feeding and create tiny, brown tunnels that resemble railroad tracks.
  • Larvae are small and white and will exit the apple after it falls to the ground.

Figure 1. Apple Maggot New York State
Figure 1. 
Egg-laying damage creates dimples in the apple skin (New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, Cornell University,

Figure 2. Apple Maggot E.H. Glass
Figure 2
. Larvae tunnel through the fruit creating thin tracks (E.H. Glass, New York State Agricultural Experiment Station,


Figure 3. Apple maggot Central Science Laboratory
Figure 3.
Adult fly is smaller than a house fly, has a white spot on its back, and three or four white abdominal stripes. (Central Science Laboratory, Harpenden, British Crown,

Management and other important facts

  • Promptly remove fallen apples from the ground to prevent the larvae from pupating and overwintering.
  • Begin monitoring for the presence of adult flies by hanging red apple maggot traps coated in Tanglefoot in late June.
  • If adult apple maggot flies are present, apple insecticides containing carbaryl, malathion, or spinosad may be used; repeat at labeled intervals.
  • Bagging the fruit to prevent infestation is also effective but very time-consuming.



This website was supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service through grant 14-SCBGP-ND-0038.
Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the USDA.

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