How To Get Rid of Strawberry Bugs?

  • By: TheWalledNursery
  • Time to read: 7 min.
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You can remove strawberry bugs by soaking your fruit in salt water. The salt agitates the insects, causing them to come out. These insects are fruit fly larvas that are common on produce with thin skins, including strawberries. Many strawberry producers use this salt bath method to check for pests in their fruit. 

If you enjoy eating strawberries, you’ll want to know how to clean the fruit before eating it.

Get rid of strawberry bugs advice
Getting rid of strawberry bugs

It’s not uncommon for these bugs to make their home there.

This article explains everything about these insects, so let’s begin! 

What are Strawberry Bugs? 

Strawberry bugs are a larva of the spotted wing drosophila, a type of small fruit fly.

They lay their eggs in fruit with thin skins, mainly berries.

Strawberry bugs
What are strawberry bugs

They’re an invasive insect in the United States. However, they can’t hurt you, even if you accidentally eat one of them. 

Overall – Strawberry bugs are fairly uncommon. Producers must check for them frequently since the bugs can ruin their produce.

They take care of them before shipping the fruit out to you, so you usually won’t need to worry about them. 

Should I Be Concerned About Strawberry Bugs? 

Plus, when you store your fruit in the fridge, you halt the growth of the larva.

Most of the time, they’re so small that you can’t even see them with the naked eye.

For the larva to develop, you’d need to leave your strawberries at room temperature for a few weeks. However, at that point, you wouldn’t be able to eat the strawberries anymore. 

Concerned strawberry bugs
Concerned about strawberry bugs – here is what to do

You don’t need to stop eating strawberries either because the insects are completely harmless. While they may gross you out, they aren’t dangerous.

You can also find insects in just about any fruit or vegetable, not just strawberries. Bugs can make their way into anything you eat, but it’s not something to worry about. 

In Fact – All healthy soil will have some amount of tiny insects. It’s normal for them to make their way into our food. 

In short, you don’t need to be concerned about strawberry bugs. They’re so tiny that they can’t hurt you, even if you were to eat an entire container of berries. 

How Do I Check For Strawberry Bugs? 

You may not need to give your fruit a salt bath, so you should check them for insects first.

Many people prefer to do this because the salt can soak into the strawberries, making them taste weird. 

Checking for strawberry bugs
Check for strawberry bugs on time

Start by inspecting the outside of your strawberries for signs of damage.

Remove any bruises that you find.

You won’t be able to see the larva unless they’re already developed. Then, you’ll want to clean the fruit. You can give the fruit a salt bath if you see them. 

Otherwise, all you need to do is rinse your strawberries under running water. Doing so removes pesticides and bacteria that might be lingering on the fruit. 

How Do I Get Rid of Strawberry Bugs With Salt Water? 

If you suspect you have strawberry bugs in your fruit, you can remove them by giving them a saltwater bath.

strawberry bugs water remove
Quickly get rid of strawberry bugs

Many strawberry farmers use this method to check if there are pests in their produce, so you can trust that it works.

It’s also best to wait until you’re ready to eat the berries since the water can cause them to start breaking down faster. 

First – Get a large bowl and fill it with enough warm water to cover the strawberries by a few inches. Then, add about 2 and a half tablespoons of salt. Give the salt time to dissolve and soak the berries for about five minutes. If you leave them longer, they’ll absorb the salt and taste weird. 

Next, drain the water. If there were any strawberry bugs, they would float to the surface.

You can simply wash them down your sink drain to get rid of them.

Now you want to rinse the strawberries well with cool water and pat them dry with a paper towel.

You must rinse them well to remove the salt, as well as any pesticide residue that may be on the fruit. 

Overall, you should always rinse your fruit before eating it.

This process ensures there are no tiny insects, dirt, or pesticides on the outside of your berries. Plus, strawberries are very porous, so they can absorb unwanted materials more than other fruit will. 

How Do I Clean Strawberries With Vinegar? 

Another effective way to clean your berries is to give them a vinegar bath.

This option is better than salt because vinegar can make the fruit last longer.

Vinegar against strawberry bugs
Use vinegar to get rid of strawberry bugs

Bacteria cause the fruit to break down, but removing it with vinegar can greatly impact the shelf life of your fruit. 

Vinegar is a powerful, natural cleaning agent.

For this project, you can also use any distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar.

Here’s what you need to do: 

  1. Put your strawberries in a large bowl 
  1. Cover the fruit with cold water 
  1. Combine one part of vinegar for every four parts of water 
  1. Stir the fruit once and let them soak for five minutes 
  1. Drain the vinegar water 
  1. Rinse the fruit with cold water 
  1. Set the fruit on a paper towel and pat them dry 
  1. Store the fruit in an air-tight container (like a glass jar) 
  1. Keep the strawberries in the fridge to make them last as long as possible 

This method also kills bacteria, removes pests, and makes your strawberries last a few additional weeks.

Plus, you only use a very small amount of vinegar, so you shouldn’t worry about the strawberries absorbing the taste.

You can also use one tablespoon of baking soda combined with four cups of water when you don’t have vinegar and get similar results. 

Why is It Important To Clean Strawberries?  

Strawberry bugs solution

You should always clean your strawberries before eating them, even if you only rinse them off with cold water.

According to the CDC, raw produce can have harmful bacteria on its surfaces, including E. coli or Salmonella. 

However, you must ensure you don’t use chemical cleaners or detergents on your food.

These can be unhealthy to ingest and won’t taste good. Instead, clean your fruit using water or vinegar, or a salt bath.

There are plenty of ways to clean strawberries without making them taste strange or exposing them to unnecessary chemicals. 

Eating washed produce is much safer, so ensure you never skip out on this important step. 

Are Strawberries Dirty? 

Strawberries are one of the top fruits on the “Dirty Dozen” list, containing the highest amounts of pesticides.

However, that doesn’t mean they’re dirty— they just contain higher amounts of pesticides than other produce. 

Strawberries hold so much pesticide residue because they’re a very porous fruit.

Strawberry plant aerogarden advice

You can reduce the number of chemicals in the fruit by choosing organic options. Although, you’ll need to make sure you clean your fruit well land check it for insects. 

So, strawberries are “dirty” due to the pesticides that non-organic products contain, not the possibility of fruit fly larvae living in them.

Strawberries are still extremely good for you as they’re rich in antioxidants and vitamin C.

They can even reduce your chances of developing heart disease or cancer, which is essential to any diet. 

Key Takeaway – You shouldn’t cut strawberries out of your diet. All you need to do to ensure they’re safe to eat is clean them first. Doing so will take five minutes, so there’s no reason not to do this. 

How Do I Remove Pests on Strawberry Plant? 

If you have a garden at home, it’s not uncommon for you to see insects on your strawberry plants.

Some of them might even be pests that reduce your crop or kill the plant completely, so you’ll want to remove them.

Some common strawberry pests include:

  • slugs
  • weevils
  • and spittlebugs 

First, you’ll want to try planting mint, garlic, or chives around your strawberries.

These plants grow well together, and the scent can drive away various pests.

Many gardeners prefer this method because they don’t need to spray berries with pesticides or other chemicals. 

Harvest aerogarden strawberries

Mixing diatomaceous earth into the soil is another good option. Lastly, combine dish soap with water in a spray bottle and mist your strawberry plants.

The strong smell deters insects as well.

If you want to use a more natural material than soap, you can add crushed garlic or cayenne pepper to your spray bottle for the same results. 

To summarize, it’s not uncommon to see insects on your strawberry plants.

They only become a problem when they eat all of the fruit themselves or cause your plants to wit.

There are even plenty of insects that are good for your plants, so you’ll want to make sure you do some research before you try removing them. 

What are the Tiny Bugs on My Garden Strawberries? 

You’re much more likely to encounter fruit fly larvae when you grow your own fruit.

You might be able to see them on your strawberries when you don’t put them in the fridge after harvesting them. 

You can easily remove them using the salt bath method described above. They aren’t harmful bugs, so you shouldn’t panic when you see them. 

You can use garlic and hot pepper spray to prevent the flies from laying eggs on the fruit.