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9 Common Blueberry Pests: How To Identify and Get Rid of Them

Few treats compare to a bowl of fresh-picked blueberries from the garden. Unfortunately, you’re not the only one who enjoys this delicious fruit! If you let blueberry pests get to your bushes, you’re going to be left trying to salvage your crop.

But not to worry—here are nine of the most common blueberry pests to look out for and the various ways to get rid of them!

Clusters of ripe blueberries.
Knowing how to spot and stop blueberry pests is critical for protecting your future harvests.

1. Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles (also known as June bugs) tend to emerge around the beginning of summer and enjoy hot, cloudless conditions. These blueberry pests feast on just about every part of the blueberry bush—plant juices, leaves, buds, and ripe fruit included!

Closeup of a Japanese beetle, a common blueberry pest.

How to Spot a Japanese Beetle Infestation

These beetles are fairly easy to spot, thanks to their signature metallic green bodies and bronze wing covers. Their cream-white larvae, on the other hand, aren’t nearly as conspicuous. Scan both fruit and foliage for adult beetles, and then check the soil for white grubs!

A Japanese beetle grub.

How to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles

If the infestation is relatively minor, you can usually handpick these bugs from your blueberry bushes. Other management options include insecticidal soaps and neem oils. To prevent Japanese beetles from returning the following year, many blueberry growers will invest in floating row covers!

2. Cherry Fruitworms

Long before they develop into dark gray moths, these reddish grubs wreak havoc on cherry and blueberry plants alike. They prefer to feed on the blueberries themselves, often burrowing tunnels inside the fruit during their larvae stage.

A pinkish colored fruitworrm.

How to Spot a Cherry Fruitworm Infestation

Fruitworms are a blueberry pest that’s most active at night, so they can be difficult to spot during the day. Because they destroy fruit from the inside, however, one of the telltale signs of a fruitworm infestation is already-fallen fruit at harvesting times.

How to Get Rid of Cherry Fruitworms

Because a single larva can easily tear through a flower cluster, it’s important that you address a fruitworm infestation swiftly. Start by pruning your bushes and removing weeds from the area. You can also handpick fruitworms and use pesticides with caution.

3. Blueberry Gall Midges

At first glance, these tiny flies resemble mosquitoes with their long legs and narrow bodies. While fully developed adults measure at roughly 3 mm in length, larvae are significantly smaller and are very difficult to spot.

An adult gall midge.

How to Spot a Blueberry Gall Midge Infestation

Gall midges attack blueberries in multiple ways. First, larvae eat away at young shoot tips, causing distorted leaves and excessive branching. These blueberry pests also infect buds, causing leaves to dry up and ultimately disintegrate.

A corn stalk with pale colored gall midge larvae on it.

How to Get Rid of Blueberry Gall Midges

Given that adult gall midges have a lifespan of only a day or two, the key to eliminating gall midges is to take control of grubs during their larvae stage. Applying an insecticide can be effective, although larvae often shield themselves in rolled leaves.

4. Spotted-Wing Drosophila

The spotted-wing drosophila (SWD) is a small, light brown fruit fly that feasts on a variety of fruits—including raspberries, blackberries, cherries, and of course, blueberries. Females, in particular, inflict a great deal of damage to fruit.

A Spotted-Wing Drosiphila.

How to Spot a Spotted-Wing Drosophila Infestation

Using its serrated ovipositor, the female will pierce the skin of the blueberry and lay eggs in fruit—sometimes as many as 25 larvae! These stealthy fruit feeders leave few traces beyond small fruit lesions, dimples, and punctures.

How to Get Rid of Spotted-Wing Drosophila

It’s worth noting that these blueberry pests are some of the most difficult to control. If you suspect an infestation, lay traps and use a yeast-sugar-water mixture as bait. You can also test a sample crop of berries through certain larval monitoring techniques.

5. Root Weevils

There are a few different root weevils that gravitate toward blueberry bushes, though the black vine weevil is perhaps the most common in the United States. Adult weevils grow to roughly 12mm long and are able to survive through the winter months.

An adult Black VIne Root Weevil.

How to Spot a Root Weevil Infestation

Adult root weevils pose little threat beyond minor notching of leaves and, of course, the potential for fruit contamination. Larvae, on the other hand, are very problematic and difficult to identify. These tiny grubs will feed on blueberry roots—causing abnormal growth and limiting your fruit yield.

Black Vine Root Weevil grubs.

How to Get Rid of Root Weevils

An effective way to prevent a root weevil infestation is to cultivate your soil before planting and to use a grain as a cover crop, as grains aren’t viable hosts. If you find adult root weevils in your blueberry bushes, you can handpick and eliminate these blueberry pests!

6. Stink Bugs

These 3/4-inch long, brown and green shield-shaped pests show up in full force around late summer. As if their appearance in your home isn’t already an annoyance, they also aren’t opposed to snacking on your blueberry bushes!

A stink bug.

How to Spot a Stink Bug Infestation

We all know a stinkbug when we see one. Keep an eye on your plant foliage and the fruit itself, as these blueberry pests enjoy feasting on both areas of your blueberry bushes.

How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs

Stink bugs are surprisingly difficult to destroy. If you handpick them from your crops, throw them in soapy water. Blueberry nets can also help prevent stink bug infestations, as can keeping your crops properly weeded!

7. Blueberry Bud Mites

Despite its microscopic size, the blueberry bud mite is arguably the most threatening blueberry pest to invade your garden. Small armies of these tiny arachnids are able to damage summer fruit, leaves, and flowers in a short amount of time.

How to Spot a Blueberry Bud Mite Infestation

Near-invisible to the naked eye, these mites often go undetected until they have already left trails of blistered red scales or caused distorted growth of your blueberry bushes.

Black currant buds damaged by bud mites.
Black currant buds damaged by bud mites.

How to Get Rid of Blueberry Bud Mites

One of the most difficult pests to control, blueberry bud mites render pesticides largely ineffective. Miticides, however, can be useful when applied shortly after harvest.

8. Scale Insects

There are multiple species of scale insects—such as azalea bark scale and lecanium scale—that like to feed on the wood of your blueberry bushes. Adult scale insects overwinter, allowing nymphs to hatch during the spring and join the feeding frenzy!

How to Spot a Scale Insect Infestation

There are a couple of ways to spot a scale insect infestation. To start, these blueberry pests will often leave a black, sooty mold in their wake. A decline in blueberry plants and reduced blueberry production may also indicate an infestation.

Scale insects on an oak branch.
Scale infestation on an oak tree.

How to Get Rid of Scale Insects

Because scale insects primarily feast on old wood, it’s important that you keep your blueberry bushes well-pruned at all times. To help control scales, release their predators—green lace wigs!

9. Blueberry Flea Beetles

These dark-colored, jumping beetles are some of the most common garden pests. Unfortunately for your blueberry bushes, flea beetles are especially fond of seedlings and young plants.

A black flea beetle.

How to Spot a Blueberry Flea Beetle Infestation

Because adult flea beetles primarily feed on the foliage of blueberry plants, they often leave traces of small holes or completely defoliated areas. Their quick hopping movements should also tip you off!

Flea beetles on a rapeseed leaf.
Flea beetles on rapeseed plant leaf.

How to Get Rid of Blueberry Flea Beetles

While your mature plants might not be at risk, take precautions to safeguard your younger plants. You can prevent a flea beetle infestation by putting up netting and testing your crop of blueberries early!

Don’t Let Blueberry Pests Take Over Your Crop!

Girls picking ripe blueberries.
Winning the war against blueberry pests means YOU (not the pests) get to enjoy
your crop of ripe blueberries!

Whether you’re already dealing with infested blueberry bushes or you’re simply trying to stay on the front foot, take the necessary steps to protect your fruit against these pests today.

Have blueberry pests ever threatened to ruin one of your crops? Share your best tips with us in the comment section below!

To check out some of our other blueberry-related articles, click here.

Craig C. Capen

Monday 6th of June 2022

You left out gall wasps, but that's OK, because I'm told there is no way to get rid of them. My blueberry patch was planted by my father more than 50 years ago and produces very well, but is doing that while also growing galls on its limbs every year.

I recommend you list gall wasps because I had a had time finding information about them, and initially misidentified them.

Matt

Friday 10th of June 2022

Noted; thank you!