Hi there. We've got a mature walnut tree on our land. I'm in the process of making a bunch of black walnut stain, so I'm cracking in to all the walnuts that have fallen in the recent windy spell. I'm finding that nearly all of them are just full to bursting with tiny little white maggots. See the attached photo.
So my questions are:
1. It's this walnut curculio? Walnut husk fly? Something else? How can you tell?
2. In future years, how would I prevent this parasitism from bring so ubiquitous without using toxic chemicals? What eats these flows? I need something that eats the hell out of them. Bats? Birds? We have a bunch of birds, low on bats, but planning to build a ton of bat houses.
3. Will the walnuts be worth drying and eating based on the presence of these bugs? Don't particularly want to waste my time, know what I mean?
hull worms. chickens love ‘em! other birds would probably clean them up too. i mostly only deal with what’s inside the shell, and they aren’t a problem there - they don’t penetrate the shell or affect the nutmeats.. i suspect they won’t be a problem with dye-making either. i don’t know of a way to avoid them, and i’m not sure you need to.
Our chickens love them too and I've noticed that crows appear to work the tree tops for them. We use both the nuts for eating and the hulls for dye and the maggots are nothing more than a slightly gross nuisance. Once the nuts are hulled, you can sift out a lot of the maggots with a hardware cloth screen and either feed them to poultry or spread out on a driveway to feed wild birds, to dessicate, or get run over. No problem if they end up in the dye pot.
Around here it's husk fly. The maggots go into the soil to pupate, so if you put tarps down just before the nuts fall and make sure you don't leave any lying around you can keep the population down for next year.
The maggots make it harder to get the husk off, since it's black and slimy rather than green and solid, but that's it.
You don't want to leave the nuts in the slimey husks too long either. The tannins from the husk can leach through the shell and make your nuts more bitter.
That's my roommate. He's kinda weird, but he always pays his half of the rent. And he gave me this tiny ad:
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