How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes

Seedcorn maggot—Delia platura

Seedcorn maggot larvae are small, legless, white maggots usually less than 0.33 inch when full grown; the head end is pointed and the rear is blunt. Adults are dark gray flies about half the size of the common housefly.

Life cycle


Maggots kill germinating seeds and very small seedlings. Once the stand is established and seedlings have developed a few leaves, maggots are unlikely to cause economic damage.


Cool, wet weather promotes seedcorn maggot infestations. Prevention is the best management strategy. Avoid overfertilization with manure; maggots prefer to lay eggs in rich soil. Disc weeds at least 2 weeks before planting. Plant transplants or pregerminated seeds. Plant seeds under conditions to promote rapid germination and establishment. Cover seedbeds with protective cloth or cover individual plants to prevent adults from laying eggs near plants.

Seedcorn maggot larvae
Seedcorn maggot larvae

Damage to germinating seedlings
Damage to germinating seedlings

Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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