I was giving the tomatoes and peppers some compost tea the other day and this is what I found in it. Very, very gross and even a little scary looking. I thought surely these creatures that are swimming around in my garden's tea must be some horrible pest. They are certainly going to eat up my garden if I use this tea! These crazy looking things are so repulsive they must be bad, bad, bad!
To see just how bad they were I came inside and got on the computer and searched "maggots with tails." That is when I got their real name, rat-tailed maggots. Such a lovely name don't you think? Yep, that is definitely what they are.
That tail like thing is actually a breathing tube. The larvae feed off wet, decomposing matter. The tail is like a snorkel to them. Their snorkel comes out their back side. A snorkel tail? That is pretty much what it is.
Hover Flies and Rat-tailed Maggots
Now to find out just how horrible and scary they are........ Not horrible and scary at all! Actually they are very beneficial!
Rat-tailed maggots are the larvae of hover flies. Hover flies are pollinators. The world needs all the pollinators it can get right now. You may have heard about Colony Collapse Disorder in bees. Bees are disappearing in droves. "There are about 100 crop species that provide 90 percent of food globally. Of these, 71 are pollinated by bees. In the US alone, a full one-third of the food supply depends on pollination from bees. Apple orchards, for instance, require one colony of bees per acre to be adequately pollinated. So if bee colonies continue to be devastated, major food shortages could result."http://www.globalresearch.ca/neonicotinoid-pesticides-ongoing-death-of-the-beas-epa-slapped-with-lawsuit/5334816
This brings us back to the rat-tailed maggots. Although they look absolutely disgusting, rat-tailed maggots are very beneficial and important for the garden. We need every pollinator we can get and are obliged to provide a pollinator friendly habitat for pollinators of all kinds. Maybe we can be like a little oasis for them on their journey. They are still repulsive to look at. Just imagine one of these swimming around in your garden's tea. Then remember not to kill it but to be thankful for it.
Here is a great article on hover flies and other syrphids . Some even eat aphids!
Happy gardening adventures!
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Hello, I'm Jaci. I look forward to sharing my gardening and homestead adventures to help you reach your gardening goals! If you have any questions then don't be shy, I'd love to hear from you. Send me a message and I will be glad to help!