It happened by accident.
In 2013 apple maggots discovered the 19 fruit trees tended by Daily Bread Food Bank volunteers in Etobicoke, Ontario. And so they did what apple maggots do – they laid eggs under the skin of the growing fruit as a way to help ensure the survival of their offspring.
Those mature apple maggots are like any parents. All they want is to give their kids a healthy start in life with enough good food to eat. And what’s more delicious and nutritious than a freshly grown organic apple?
Within days after the eggs are laid, they will hatch. The resulting larvae will feed on the growing apple’s flesh for up to a month as they mature. All the while the apple becomes more and more unappealing for humans to eat. The Daily Bread orchard volunteers decided that they had to do something to prevent this process from happening.
At the time, they had never heard of Orchard Sox, those little nylon sockettes that you slip on baby fruit to protect it from insect damage. But after a trip to the dollar store, volunteers came up with their own solution.
“One of our volunteers, Helga, found some gauzy, decorative gift bags on eBay and tied them around the apples. Some of the nicest ones had floral designs on them,” says Nikki McAlister, Daily Bread Production Garden Coordinator.
As the baby fruit grew, the team was astonished to see that the bags didn’t just protect the fruit from maggot damage, they made the fruit look fantastic! The designs on the gauzy bags shaded parts of the apples, preventing them from becoming evenly red.
The result was beautiful apples with floral designs on their skin.
“We saw the results and loved them! But then we went to the dollar store to see if we could find some similar bags but they didn’t have any si we keep reusing the ones that we have each year,” Nikki says.
What do you do to protect the growing fruit on your tree from apple maggot damage? How effective is your technique? You can learn more about protecting your trees in Orchard People’s “Preventing Pests and Disease in Your Fruit Trees” workshop. Happy growing!