Maggots have infested my sugar snap peas!


Q: My crop of sugar snap peas has become infested with small black and white headed larvae. Would you please tell me what exactly they are and how can I prevent this from happening again? I love snap peas but I can’t help but be put off a little.

Those little larvae are the caterpillars of the pea moth, Cydia nigricana. They are usually not very common in this region; even without doing anything, you might not see an infestation of them next year (I had them one year in my garden years ago, but not since). When I lived in eastern Canada, these were so common that I confess it did put me off snap peas. I went back to growing shelling peas, because you can see and discard any critters and damaged peas in the pods when you shell them. There is just one generation of the moths each year. They lay eggs in the flowers so peas planted very early (March) or quite late in the season (late June) can miss being used by the adult moths to lay eggs. If the problem continues you can cover the vines with floating row cover fabric to keep the moths away from the plants. Pea flowers are self-fertile and don’t need bees for pollination, so the peas under covers will develop normally.