So, you have a bunch of tiny bugs or worms on your blackberry bushes. And you want to get rid of them.
In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn all about:
- Why you have bugs on your blackberries
- Natural ways to get rid of bugs on your bushes
- How to prevent and keep the bugs off your blackberry bushes
- How to get rid of worms, tiny bugs, beetles, and other common blackberry pests
- And more
By the end of this guide, you’ll have everything you need to know to manage and control blackberry bugs and keep them away.
Then you can really enjoy the “fruits” of your labor!
Be sure to bookmark this page so you can come back for easy reference.
Sound good? Let’s dive in and save your bushes from bugs!
Last updated: 1/23/21. This guide has been updated for accuracy.
What’s that bug on my blackberry bush?
Let’s cover some of the most common bugs that eat blackberry plants so you can tell what bug is eating up your bush.
This is important so you treat for the right pest. Otherwise, it’ll be a waste of effort and time.
There are three categories of the most common blackberry inspection you’ll find in your yard:
- Red berry mites
- Blackberry beetles (Japanese Beetles, Fig Beetles, June Bugs)
- Tiny white worms (fruit fly larvae)
- Stink bugs
- Rose Chafers
- Two-spotted mites
- Raspberry Crown Borers
- Red-necked Cane Borers
- Rose Scales
All of these can be controlled at home relatively easily using some natural methods to get rid of them. There’s no need to spray or apply any dangerous lingering chemicals, especially since you’ll be eating these fruits!
How do you get rid of blackberry bugs?
You’ll often find worms and tiny bugs crawling on your bushes. The worms are usually the larvae of fruit flies- not to be confused with cutworms or budworms.
The tiny bugs are usually red berry mites, which is a tiny mite that eats leaves and disturbs proper berry development. They’re similar to red spider mites, though the berry mite feeds on blackberries and other related fruits.
You may also come across large Japanese Beetles, Fig Beetles, or June Bugs. All of these beetles are similar and have been reported to eat ripe blackberries.
Let’s cover some of the most blackberry bugs and how you can get rid of them naturally to keep the bugs off your blackberries.
If you have berry mites, you can control this pest by using lime sulfur. Mix 8 ounces of liquid lime sulfur, which can be purchased at most home improvement stores.
Opt for natural or pure sulfur if possible.
Mix the lime sulfur with 1 gallon of pure water and then pour some into a spray bottle. Spray the mixture onto your blackberry bushes every week to help control spider mites from eating up your berries. Wash the berries before eating.
You can also use some DIY soapy water, which is just 8 drops of dish soap and 1 cup of water.
Spray the solution onto the berry plant to kill the majority of spider mites and other bugs on your blackberry bush. Repeat daily.
And wash your berries before consuming them. Because the leaves are so nutritious, you should expect pests to start consuming them.
What are these tiny white worms on my blackberries?
These worms are known as Drosophila suzukii.
They’re the larvae form of fruit flies, but ultimately never get to transform into one because they’re eaten before they have a chance to morph.
When we eat these worms, our stomach acids kill them and stop them from turning into fruit flies.
If you’ve ever carefully inspected your freshly-picked blackberries, you may notice tiny white worms crawling around on them.
These worms are not limited to just your blackberries, as the majority of garden blackberries have them.
The worms are almost microscopic and transparent, which makes them extremely hard to see.
But if you look closely or use a magnifying glass or microscope, you’ll see tiny worms that are crawling on the blackberry. Often times many worms on the same fruit.
Are the worms in blackberries harmful?
They’re considered safe to eat and a good source of protein. Fruit flies around found all across the US, and sometimes may be more apparent depending on weather conditions.
During mild winters, the fly is more available because there’s no cold season to kill them. Other times, cold weather may eliminate a large majority of fruit flies and you’ll notice fewer worms.
Fruit flies are similar to the vinegar fly, which is what you’ll find eating the bananas leftover on your kitchen counter.
The worms left by the adult female fly will eventually turn into a fully mature adult fruit fly. The female inserts her larvae directly into the ripening fruit using an ovipositor. In a common blackberry, you can expect between 6-10 eggs.
The eggs will hatch in about one day and the larvae will emerge and start eating the fruit from within.
As the blackberry disappears, the worms eventually crawl out and fall into the soil to form a pupa and emerge as an adult fly.
Blackberry worms aren’t dangerous and the worms are considered safe to eat. They’re not harmful and aren’t known to transmit any diseases. The worms are simply the larvae form of a fruit fly.
Do store-bought blackberries have worms?
Store-bought blackberries have worms just as much as the ones you harvest from your own garden.
Some growers and farmers may have them processed by a processing plant which may kill some of these worms and prevent them from getting into your mouth.
But the majority of these blackberries are harvested and packed and then shipped directly to the retailer.
Because blackberries have a limited seasonal run and most people buy them for cheap, there are no resources to allocate to the labor of cleaning them. Thus, most people end up eating the tiny worms found within the fruit.
How to prevent worms in blackberries
You can reduce the number of worms found in your blackberries by doing a few remedies. Here are some tips:
Pick the fruit when ripe
The fruit fly that lays eggs within blackberries is aggressive and look for ripening fruit to deposit the eggs in the first place.
This is why you need to harvest your blackberries first before they become overripe and attract fruit flies.
Wash the berries
After you’ve picked them, wash them to remove any worms on the surface layer of the fruit.
You can use hot, boiling water and the berries should remain safe. If you really want to kill the worms, use a few squirts of lemon or lime juice with boiling water.
Freeze the berries
After you’ve washed them, put them into a bag after they’ve cooled and freeze them for 3 days.
This will simulate a cold winter and kill the majority of worms hiding inside the fruit.
Soaking blackberries in saltwater
This is another popular tip- soak the blackberries in saltwater to make the worms come out and float to the top.
After you see visible bugs on the surface of the water, pour them out and repeat the process. The saltwater encourages them to leave the fruit and come out.
You can do this over and over until you notice no more worms.
Beetles on blackberry bushes
The most common type of beetles you’ll find eating your blackberries are Japanese beetles.
Beetles are attracted to wild berries such as raspberries, wild grape, sassafras, blackberry, and Virginia creepers.
All of these berries are a source of stable food and energy for Japanese beetles and they’ll aggregate and come together on these plants to breed. Eggs are usually deposited on the soil batches nearby berry plants.
Thus, the lifecycle of the Japanese beetle continues and the nymphs feed on the readily available berries.
If you’re growing blackberries in your garden, you’ve probably seen a few Japanese beetles hovering around your bushes.
Note that it’s easy to confuse Japanese Beetles with Fig Beetles and June Bugs, so you should attempt to differentiate between the three beetle types.
This way, you’re setting up repellents and traps to get rid of the right pest!
Japanese beetles commonly eat triple crown thornless and other garden varieties of blackberries, especially when they start to ripen.
The beetles will attack right before harvest, so there’s a good chance they may start to eat your berries before you have a chance to harvest. If you notice beetles all over your blackberry leaves, they’re scavenging for ripening berries.
This is your chance to get rid of them and keep them away.
Here are some methods you can do at home to keep bugs away from your blackberries:
This is an obvious solution but poorly practiced. You should harvest your berries right upon ripening before any other pests get a chance to eat them.
A good gardener will check the fruits daily for ripe berries and harvest them right away. The longer you leave ripe berries hanging on the leaf, the faster it’ll attract other beetles to the area to eat them.
Once you get a few beetles hanging around your blackberry bush, more will come to the area. This is why you need to pick them off before they become ripe and attract beetles.
Utilize natural predators
Snakes and other reptiles can help deter and defend your blackberry bush. If you have native reptiles in your area, such as lizards, snakes, frogs, ravens, pigeons, and other amphibians, they can be a beneficial species to have in your yard.
Reptiles will eat many beetles, worms, and bugs that are found on fruit trees.
They can help eat beetles and other bugs that are on your blackberry bush. The trick is to attract them to your yard.
Depending on the species you have natively available, you’ll want to do some research and see how to attract them.
For example, if you have snakes available, make a rock pile, add a water dish, and set up some nesting material to attract snakes. The snakes will eat the Japanese beetles and other pests.
You can also cover the blackberries with natural netting for fruits. They can keep most pests away and offer a reasonable amount of protection from beetles.
The netting covers the entire plant and keeps the majority of large bugs out. Use ⅙” spacing insect netting.
Shake the blackberry bushes
You can set up a drop cloth at night around the tree and then shake the bush in the morning.
This forces the beetles on your blackberry to fall to the ground. Then you gather all the beetles into the dropcloth and dunk the entire thing in a pool of soapy water to kill them.
This can kill off a large population of Japanese beetles instantly and is safe for your berries.
If you have chickens in your yard, you can let them loose and forage the blackberry bushes.
Chickens naturally eat beetles and other bugs that are commonly found on blackberry bushes.
Attract wasps to help with pests
Wasps are natural predators to many beetles.
You can attract wasps to your yard to help control and kill any beetles in the area. Wasps are easy to attract and can be done by using a combination of plants.
Spray dish soap
Dish soap will kill the beetles. You can make your own beetle killer at home by mixing a few drops of dish soap and some water into a spray bottle. Also, add some vegetable oil to make it sticky.
Beetles are most active in the early morning to afternoon, so go outside and spray down your berry plants with this mixture. The oil sticks the soap to their body and they’ll eventually become killed by the spray.
The last method is to just use your hands and a pair of garden gloves to manually remove them.
Toss them into a bucket full of soapy water and this will kill the bugs. You can repeat this process daily to eliminate a large majority yo fate the beetles.
What to spray on blackberries
There are a few commercial sprays you can use to protect your blackberry bushes from bugs. Depending on your specific needs, you can choose the right spray to use on your bush.
How to get rid of blackberry fungus
If you want to protect your plants from diseases and fungus, use copper fungicide sprays that are marketed for blackberries.
You may have to reapply after heavy rains or winds, as these sprays often come off easily. Use the spray as directed.
Effective blackberry pesticides to use
There are many commercial sprays you can buy to help kill off bugs on your blackberries.
Buy one that’s organic or natural and follow the directions on the label. Always get natural when possible as you’ll be eating these blackberries and you want to avoid any dangerous compounds.
You should also attempt to make your own DIY spray at home first before buying a commercial one. You can make dish soap sprays (which can protect your plants), vinegar sprays (which works against many other pests), or use any other natural bug-repelling methods outlined here.
How to kill a blackberry plant
If you’re looking to buy one, look for pesticides that contain glyphosate or triclopyr. Both of these chemicals will help protect your blackberries from bugs.
Blackberry bushes grow taller during their first year, and then produce flowers during their second year. This is known as a biennial. The roots are perennial and near stems are produced each year.
Thus, the blackberry bush has unique care. Pests will usually crop up during late bloom, which is in spring or summer.
Blackberry leaves curling up
Your bush leaves will curl up usually due to a virus or pests. The popular raspberry aphid is a carrier for a blackberry virus that causes leaves to dry and then thicken and curl.
You should prune and remove any canes that are sprouting curled leaves and dispose of them. Then you can burn them in a controlled fire to eliminate the virus and any aphids and pests that may be on them.
You should also dispose of any wild berries that have been infested with the raspberry aphid or have curling leaves. This virus usually takes place around the summertime and affects a wide variety of berry plants.
Raspberries are affected more than blackberries, but blackberries may remain “normal” looking until later.
The leaf curl virus is literally called the leaf curl virus and you’ll usually notice that the leaves on canes that have been infected are stiffly arched or have a downward curl. The leaves may be thick, dry, and crispy.
Why are my blackberry bushes turning brown?
Blackberry bushes will turn brown or black when infected with the fungus Leptosphaeria coniothyrium.
This fungus will eat up the canes of the vines on your blackberry tree and kills the leaves. The leaves will then turn black or brown until they fall off.
You should remove the infected canes when the weather is dry to help stop the spread of the fungus, which travels by air via spores.
Nearby blackberries may be affected during windy weather, so you want to stop the spread of this fungus. Remove all infected canes and treat them with a moderate fungicide mode for this fungus. Use as directed on the product label.
You can also spray some cold water directly onto the infected blackberry canes to help stop the spores from spreading as they’ll become saturated with water. This helps reduce the number of spores in the air.
These additional resources may prove to be useful for your knowledge:
- Blackberry – PlantVillage
- Raspberries and cultivated blackberries – AgricultureVictoria.Gov
- Pests Commonly Found on Blackberry & Brambles – VirginiaTech.Edu
Did you get the bugs off your blackberry bushes?
That’s all I have for you.
By now, you should have everything you need to know about keeping your blackberry bushes and trees free from worms, beetles, and other tiny bugs munching away on your precious fruit!
If you have any other questions, just post a comment below and let me know what you think.
Or if you’ve dealt with blackberry bugs before, share your words of wisdom with others.
If you found this helpful, let me know. Consider telling a friend who may find this guide helpful.
Thanks for reading!
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.
4 thoughts on “How to Keep Worms, Beetles, and Bugs off of Blackberry Bushes (Naturally)”
Soapy oily water recipe
My blackberry leaves have what looks like dust And mulch behind many leaves. Have taken off a lot of the leaves but don’t want my plant to go completely bald.
Thanks you info is great.
Jean from Nova Scotia Canada
Hi i tried the soap water on wild blackberries today i hope it works !
We have sticktight fleas and no chickens but they ravage my poor dog and i have had 2 pest companies that said they could get rid of them and they didnt even know what a sticktight flea looks like they dont jump or run they stick underneath the skin and they are monsters. Normal stuff doesnt kill them either. They made nests all underneath our carpet padding making them protected fronm everything. I have gotten ridden of almost everything and i cant keep replacing things . I am viligent about keeping them off my dog. Do you know how to kill them i cant find a company that does. Thanks