As much as we love our strawberries, we all agree that it can be sincerely frustrating when we see signs of worms or bugs creeping around them. Worms can damage the fruits and reduce the quality of the entire plant.
So, how to get rid of worms on strawberry plants? Worms can be a major headache for strawberry growers, and here is how to get rid of worms on strawberry plants:
- Hand-picking is a great method, especially for small-scale infestations.
- Neem oil and Bacillus thuringiensis are natural pesticides that can be very effective in getting rid of worms.
- Companion planting and crop rotation are other long-term methods that can help prevent worm infestation in the first place.
Keep reading to find out proven methods to eradicate worms and other pests that infest your strawberry plants without causing any harm to the fruit. If you also wonder how to get Spiders out of strawberry plants, I wrote a whole article that I encourage you to read.
1- Maintain Hygiene
It is vital to maintain good hygiene around your strawberry plants to help avoid attracting worms. I recommend you clean up any debris, weeds, or dead plant material from the plant area, as this can attract worms and other pests, which would infest your plants.
It is recommended to inspect the oldest leaves first for stippling; webbing, and you might find worms on the underside of leaves. Also, remember that infestations in April or May, cause the most injury early in the year (Source: Oregon State University)
If you keep the surrounding areas clean and destroy any harborage, you will increase your chances of effectively getting rid of worms on strawberry plants.
Another easy method of getting rid of worms on strawberry plants is handpicking, which involves removing the worms by hand and disposing of them.
To effectively handpick worms, you need to inspect your strawberry plants thoroughly, especially the undersides of the leaves and the new growth. I encourage you to use gloves to protect your hands while picking the worms. After collecting the worms, be sure to throw them in a plastic bag or container and dispose of them far away from your garden.
As tedious as it may seem, handpicking the worms from strawberry plants can also be an effective method, especially for small-scale infestations that are easy to see. In addition, regular handpicking helps you to keep the population under control and prevent severe damage to the plants.
3- Neem Oil
Neem oil is highly effective in getting rid of worms and other pests that infest strawberry plants. It is a natural solution that poses no threat to the plants or the fruit. Experts from the University of California even recommend using neem oil (Trilogy) on organically certified strawberries.
Neem oil works by interfering with the insect’s hormones, leading to a disruption of their life cycle.
To use neem oil:
- Mix one teaspoon of neem oil with one liter of lukewarm water.
- Then apply it with a sprayer on the affected parts of the plant.
- To ensure effectiveness, spray weekly.
- Using neem oil in the early morning or evening is recommended.
- Be sure to follow the instructions carefully to avoid harming beneficial insects such as bees.
At a 70 percent concentration, neem oil eradicates powdery mildew spores, virus vectors, including aphids and white flies, and the eggs of many insect pests (Source: Purdue University)
4- Introduce Predatory Insects
Did you know some insects are useful for killing other bugs like worms? Introduce lacewings, parasitic wasps, ladybugs, and spiders into your garden.
Introducing ladybugs and Lacewings into your garden is highly effective in getting rid of unwanted pests, including worms, without causing any harm to the plants (Source: Gardening Know How)
And the good news is that beneficial insects, such as pollinators and natural enemies of pests, will help organically control worm infestations (Source: U.C. Davis)
5- Bacillus Thuringiensis
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a species of bacteria that typically lives in soil. Bt produces proteins toxic to some insects when eaten but not others (Source: Oregon State University)
Moreover, Bacillus thuringiensis is a naturally occurring bacteria that is effective against worms and caterpillars that attack strawberry plants. This bacteria is harmless to humans and pets but can cause a fatal infection in insects.
To use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt):
- You need to spray it on the plant, especially on the undersides of the leaves, where the worms usually hide.
- Bacillus thuringiensis can be one of the most effective methods to eliminate worms on your strawberry plants.
6- Companion Planting
Companion planting is the practice of growing different plants together to enhance their growth and avoid pests. Some plants, such as marigolds, garlic, and onion, are known to repel pests, including worms that attack strawberries.
Here are a few of the most effective companion planting that can help protect strawberry plants from worms:
Planting these companion plants around your strawberry plants can help reduce the chances of worms and other pests attacking your plants. In addition, companion planting enhances the flavor and nutrients of your strawberry plants.
7- Crop Rotation
Crop rotation involves planting different crops on the same plot of land year after year to help break the cycle of pests and diseases, including those that attack strawberries.
Crop rotation reduces damage from insect pests, limits the development of vegetable diseases, and improves soil fertility (Source: University of Wisconsin-Madison) Worm infestations in strawberries often build up in the soil over time, so rotating your crops can help reduce the likelihood of these pests appearing.
I suggest you plant crops that are not prone to the same worms as strawberries. Moreover, experts from Connell University recommend using a combination of strategies is better than depending on one.
What to read next:
- An Expert Guide on How to Get Rid of Bugs on Strawberry Plants!
- Are Ants Bad for Strawberry Plants? The Truth Behind the Myth.
- How To Keep Ants Off Strawberry Plants: Here’s How To Do It.
Worms can destroy your strawberries, and it is essential to take a proactive approach to prevent their infestation. I believe that by using the methods discussed in this article, you can effectively control and eliminate the worms on your strawberry plants.
Remember that prevention is always better than treatment, so maintaining good plant hygiene and regular handpicking can help you prevent a large-scale infestation. By protecting your strawberry plants from worms the right way, you’ll have healthy, thriving plants free from the damage caused by these pests.