Pear midge

Pear midge can cause the loss of large numbers of pear fruitlets in spring.

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Severe damage caused to a fruitlet by the larvae of pear midge.
Severe damage caused to a fruitlet by the larvae of pear midge.

Quick facts

Common name Pear midge
Latin name Contarinia pyrivora
Plants affected Pear
Main symptoms Pear fruitlets go black and drop off in June. Small maggots may be found inside the fruitlets
Caused by Larvae of a gall midge
Timing May-June

What is pear midge?

Pear midge is a small fly with larvae that develop inside pear fruitlets, causing them to turn black and drop off the tree in early summer.

Gall midges are a family of flies, the Cecidomyidae, there are more than 600 species found in Britain.  As adults most are small brown or black flies, they do not bite.  As the name suggests many species feed as larvae within plant tissues causing galling and distortion. Some are however, predatory on aphids and mites whilst others feed on rust fungi.


  • Pear fruitlets with pear midge will turn black and fall from the tree
  • Affected pear fruitlets initially grow faster and are softer than healthy fruitlets but during May they begin to turn black at the eye end of the fruit (opposite end to the stalk)
  • The black colour spreads up the fruitlet and it drops off in June
  • A high proportion of the potential crop can be lost
  • Inside the damaged fruitlets are many orange white maggots, up to 4mm in length


Monitor pear fruit development for midge damage throughout spring. If the midge has been a problem in previous seasons decide if control measures are likely to be needed at the beginning of the season. When choosing control options you can minimise harm to non-target animals by using the methods in the non-pesticide section below. Pesticide treatments are likely to kill natural enemies and are only likely to be successful if the entire plant can be reached.


  • Look for affected fruitlets and remove them before the larvae complete their feeding and enter the soil to pupate
  • The midge larvae enter the soil when fully grown, where possible hoeing the soil around the base of the tree during dry weather in June and July, may reduce survival of the pupae
  • Severity of damage varies from year to year, in some years very few pears will be affected in others a majority of the crop can be lost. It may be possible to tolerate some crop losses
  • Encourage predators and other natural enemies in the garden such as birds, hedgehogs and ground beetles


The RHS recommends that you don't use pesticides. Most pesticides (including organic types) reduce biodiversity, including natural enemies, impact soil health and have wider adverse environmental effects.
Where you cannot tolerate pear midge, manage them using the information above as your first course of action.
Pesticide treatments are likely to kill natural enemies and so reduce the likelihood of natural control and can lead to resurgence of the target animal.
If you do decide to use pesticides, the shorter persistence products (that are usually certified for organic growing) are likely to be less damaging to non-target wildlife.
The pesticides listed are legally available in the UK. This information is provided to avoid misuse of legal products and the use of unauthorised and untested products, which potentially has more serious consequences for the environment and wildlife than when products are used legally.
Always follow the instructions on the products. For edible plants, make sure the food plant is listed on the label and follow instructions on maximum number of applications, spray interval and harvest interval.
Homemade products are not recommended as they are unregulated and usually untested.
Be aware that products such as Neem oil are not registered for use in the UK and we cannot advise on their use.
Plants in flower must not be sprayed due to the danger to bees and other pollinating insects.
On trees small enough to be sprayed thoroughly, contact insecticides may have some effect if used when the blossom is at the white bud stage (before flowering). This may reduce the number of adult flies and reduce the number of eggs that are laid
  • Organic sprays, such as natural pyrethrum (e.g. Bug Clear Ultra, Neudorff Bug Free Bug and Larvae Killer), fatty acids (e.g. Doff Greenfly & Blackfly Killer) or plant oils (e.g. Vitax Plant Guard Pest & Disease Control) have a largely physical mode of action and are broad spectrum so will kill a wide range of insects. These pesticides have a very short persistence and so may require reapplication to keep pear fruit midge numbers in check. Plant oil and fatty acid products are less likely to affect larger insects such as ladybird adults
  • Further information about the use of pesticides available for management of pear midge, including more persistent contact-action insecticides, is available on the pesticides for gardeners leaflet
Inclusion of a pesticide product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by RHS Gardening Advice. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener.


Pesticides for gardeners (pdf document)


The adult flies are tiny midges that emerge in spring, when the females lay eggs in pear blossom shortly before it opens.

The larvae feed inside the developing fruitlets, reducing the centre to a blackish brown mush. The larvae are fully fed by late May-June, when the damaged fruitlets drop off.

The larvae enter the soil where they overwinter inside silk cocoons before pupating in the spring.

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