What is eating my fig tree leaves?

What is eating my fig tree leaves?

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Are you perplexed by the sudden disappearance of your fig tree’s leaves?

You’ve been carefully tending to it for months, meticulously watering it during hot summer days and protecting it from pests, so why now are its leaves turning brown, wilting away, or worse still disappearing altogether?

Don’t worry – this is a common problem that many garden owners encounter when their fig tree leaves become prey to some pesky critters. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what may be causing the issue and how best to remedy the situation. From identifying possible culprits behind leaf damage like caterpillars and mites to understanding which preventative measures should be taken before signs of attack start appearing – everything will soon become clear!

Read on as we explore all the potential reasons why your fig tree might not look quite right at present…

Identify the Pest

Your beloved fig tree may be under attack! Take a closer look at the leaves and inspect for signs of damage or pests feasting on your foliage. It’s important to identify any unwanted guests early on to prevent further damage to your tree.

Keep an eye out for small holes, brown spots, or discoloration. Don’t let these pesky invaders ruin your beautiful fig tree and the delicious fruit it yields. By taking action early, you can protect your tree and ensure a bountiful harvest for years to come.

Wasps and hornets

Wasps and hornets have a reputation for being aggressive and potentially dangerous, but did you know they also have a taste for fig leaves? Yes, these stinging insects have been observed feeding on the succulent leaves of fig trees, but don’t worry, they usually don’t cause any serious damage to the plant.

While wasps and hornets may not be the most popular guests in your garden, they do play an important role in pollination and maintaining the balance of ecosystems. So the next time you see one buzzing around your fig tree, try to appreciate their contribution to the natural world.


Beetles are fascinating creatures that come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. While many species of beetles are known to feed on a wide range of plants, including fruits, vegetables, and flowers, some have a particular taste for fig leaves. Among the beetles that enjoy snacking on fig leaves are the Japanese beetles, which have a shiny metallic green color, rose chafers with their distinctive iridescent green bodies, and white grubs, which are the larval form of beetles and often live in the soil.

These beetles may be small, but they play an important role in the ecosystem by helping to control the population of certain plants and insects.


Caterpillars can be fascinating creatures to observe, especially when considering their diverse diets. Some caterpillars, like the Fig-Tree Looper Moth caterpillar, are known for feeding on fig leaves in addition to a variety of other types of foliage. This specific caterpillar species is distinguishable by its brown and green coloring, with unique markings that give it a distinct appearance.

Although it may seem unusual to think of caterpillars as selective eaters, it’s important to remember that different species of these insects have their own preferences when it comes to what they consume.

There are other pests such as:

  1. Fig Wax Scale: This scale insect can infest fig trees, sucking sap from the leaves and causing them to yellow and die.
  2. Spider Mites: These tiny pests can infest fig leaves, sucking out plant fluids and leaving behind tiny, yellow speckles.
  3. Grasshoppers: Grasshoppers are known to feed on the leaves of various plants, including fig trees.
  4. Deer: If you have deer in your area, they may browse on fig tree leaves, especially if the tree is young or during periods of food scarcity.
  5. Rabbits: In some regions, rabbits may nibble on the leaves of young fig trees.
  6. Squirrels: Although they primarily eat fruits and nuts, squirrels might occasionally snack on fig leaves.
  7. Birds: Some birds, especially during droughts or when seeking nutrients, may feed on fig tree leaves.

Prevention is Better than Cure

Rather than waiting for the damage to escalate, prevention is always better than cure. Once you have identified the pesky critter responsible for feasting on your precious figs, you need to take immediate steps to safeguard your tree. Once you know what is causing the damage, you can implement targeted treatment measures. Here are some common pests and animals that may eat fig tree leaves and their corresponding treatment options:

  1. Fig Beetles:
    • Remove overripe and fallen fruits from the ground, as these attract beetles.
    • Consider using sticky traps to capture adult beetles.
    • In severe cases, you can use insecticidal sprays labeled for controlling beetles. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions.
  2. Fig Wax Scale:
    • Prune and discard heavily infested branches to reduce the scale population.
    • Use a horticultural oil or insecticidal soap to suffocate and control the scale insects.
    • Systemic insecticides can also be applied to the soil around the tree to target scale insects.
  3. Spider Mites:
    • Spray the leaves with a strong stream of water to dislodge spider mites.
    • Use insecticidal soap or neem oil to control the mites.
    • Introduce predatory insects, such as ladybugs, that feed on spider mites.
  4. Caterpillars:
    • Handpick and remove caterpillars from the tree if the infestation is small.
    • Use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) insecticide, which targets caterpillars specifically and is safe for other beneficial insects.
  5. Grasshoppers, Deer, Rabbits, and Squirrels:
    • Implement physical barriers, such as fencing or netting, to protect the tree from these animals.
    • Use repellents or deterrents designed for the specific animal in question.
  6. Birds:
    • Install scare devices like reflective tape, wind chimes, or scarecrows to deter birds from approaching the fig tree.
    • Use bird netting to cover the tree temporarily during the fruiting season.

Before applying any chemical treatment, consider using organic and environmentally friendly options whenever possible. Additionally, follow the instructions on the product label carefully and apply treatments during the recommended times to ensure their effectiveness and safety. If you’re unsure about the best approach, consider seeking advice from a local horticulturist or an arborist who can provide tailored solutions based on your specific situation.

Although it can be challenging to determine what is eating your fig tree’s leaves, identifying the culprit is essential in preventing further damage. The most likely pests are wasps and hornets, beetles, and caterpillars, however, there could be other unknown factors at play. Taking preventative steps such as setting up netting or using an insecticidal spray should protect your fig tree from further damage caused by infestations.

Additionally, to help your fig tree thrive and produce tasty fruit for harvest season, consider regularly pruning your tree year-round and fertilizing in the springtime. While some pests may still make their way to your fig tree’s leaves, taking these proactive measures will increase the odds of deterring potential harm and keeping your precious tree healthy.

arthur alexander

arthur alexander

My name is Arthur Alexander, and I am a fig farmer. I'm proud to say that the fruits of my labor (figs) have been enjoyed by many over the years! Fig farming might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it has certainly been mine for quite some time now.

Arthur Alexander
Arthur Alexander

My name is Arthur Alexander, and I am a fig farmer. I'm proud to say that the fruits of my labor (figs) have been enjoyed by many over the years! Fig farming might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it has certainly been mine for quite some time now.

about me

My name is Arthur Alexander, and I am a fig farmer. I’m proud to say that the fruits of my labor (figs) have been enjoyed by many over the years! Fig farming might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it has certainly been mine for quite some time now.

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