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I planted strawberries a couple of years ago in a small patch of my back yard (in Sacramento, CA) and this year they are finally producing lots of strawberries. However, something is eating "divots" into them, as if something scooped out maybe a quarter to a third of the strawberry.

I have netting to keep out squirrels and other larger critters. However, many of the strawberries have divots eaten into them and I found one or two of these with what looked like a small black worm in them. The worm was maybe 3/8" long and less than 1/16" wide and its body looked smooth and featureless to my unaided eye.

Does anyone have an idea of whether these are the creatures that are eating my strawberries? If they are, what can I do to stop them? If something else is eating them, what could it be and what can I do about it?

Thanks for your help.

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I chose @Bill's answer because it addresses my specific worm problem. However, if beetles might be eating your strawberries, be sure to scroll down to @Mancuniensis's answer. –  eipi10 Jun 29 '11 at 17:15

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

This site describes (with copious pictures) the problem you are having.

A possible solution from the site:

Andrea from LifestyleBlock suggested I try using a solution of apple cider vinegar and spray the strawberries several times a day. Since I only had white vinegar I used that instead. The mix I did was 1 tablespoon vinegar to a litre of water. For 5 days now I have been diligently spraying the partially ripe strawberries and it seems to be working.

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Yes, that's exactly what they look like. Thanks! –  eipi10 Jun 28 '11 at 16:38

My strawberries were damaged in the same way as yours, last year. The culprits proved to be Strawberry Seed Beetles (black, about 1cm long), which were living among some weeds nearby. They remove seeds from the outside of the fruit and also eat into it. I had netted the bed to protect it from birds, but had failed to weed around it - and these beetles are also attracted to weed seeds!

A slug killer would see them off, but it is not advisable to use chemicals near harvest time (and perhaps, like me, you are an organic gardener). I suggest you (1) make sure that nearby weeds are kept down,(2) clear away any dead leaves and garden rubbish,and (3) sink some jam jars into the soil around the bed - a lot of the beetles will fall into them, which will reduce their numbers. It may also be worth finding out if there is an organic slug repellent that would be effective against them, which I intend to do myself.

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Does salt help with slugs or is that a myth? (Or, would you have to use so much salt that it would affect the soil/plants?) –  Michael Todd Jun 27 '11 at 22:46
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Salt does kill slugs; it draws a lot of fluid out of them, by osmosis, and they die of dehydration. Unfortunately, it does the same to plants cells, and and even a small concentration of salt in the soil can take years to disperse. It definitely isn't advisable to use it as a slug killer - or a weedkiller. I was tempted to sprinkle some on the weeds growing between the flagstones of my path, but changed my mind when I realized that it would leech out into the surrounding vegetable plots. –  Mancuniensis Jun 27 '11 at 23:22

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