Fig Tree Borer Treatment: Learn How To Manage Fig Borers

Fig Tree Borer Treatment: Learn How To Manage Fig Borers

By: Kristi Waterworth

Figs are beautiful additions to your edible landscape, with their big, shapely leaves and umbrella-like form. The fruit these amazing and tough plants produce is just icing on the cake that is the fig tree. Although they’re generally pretty easy to grow, there are a few difficult problems that fig growers can come across. One in particular, fig tree borers, have left many a fig owner frustrated and frazzled.

About Fig Tree Insect Pests

Among common pest insects of figs, the fig borers (family Ceramycidae) are unquestionably the most annoying and frustrating to manage. These long-horned beetles lay their eggs under the fig bark near the base of the trunk in early summer, giving their larvae plenty of time to develop before cooler temperatures set in.

At about two weeks old, the white grub-like larvae will begin to bore into the wood of infected figs, where they quickly take up residence. These trees will house the larvae anywhere from a few months to several years, depending on the species, as the young beetles continue to hollow the fig out.

Controlling borers in fig trees is complicated, since the tree itself protects the larvae throughout most of their life cycle. If your tree is small and the infection limited, you may be able to protect it by removing infected wood entirely, but if you choose to go this route, you’ll want to immediately install a protective net to prevent adult borers from laying eggs on the wound.

Fig tree borer treatment isn’t as simple as spraying the tree and watching the pests disappear. In fact, the damage that’s already done is often irreparable, causing sections of your fig to weaken or die. Your best bet is to prevent fig tree borers by keeping your plant healthy and enclosing the base of the tree with a ring of fine mesh netting about two inches (5 cm.) away from the bark. This will prevent adults from depositing their eggs and can break the insect’s life cycle if you are vigilant.

In addition, it can help thin or destroy breeding populations if you watch closely for adults to emerge and destroy them on sight. They will chew leaves and fruit, making them as much of a nuisance as their offspring.

If your fig tree becomes too weak or heavily infested, you may have to make the difficult decision to destroy it. Complete removal of the plant from the landscape and quick containment of the larvae is a must to prevent infestations in future trees. Burn or double bag debris if you can’t dispose of it right away.

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How to Control Pests on Weeping Figs

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Your beautiful weeping fig tree with its great height and far-reaching canopy of drooping branches becomes less than attractive when pests invade. Though weeping fig trees are known for their resistance to problems such as pests and diseases, they are not immune. When left untreated, pest infestations may lead to a disfigured tree in decline. Fortunately, the primary pests of your elegant tree will cause little harm when the problem is caught early and treated.

Inspect your tree closely. Look for any changes or abnormalities mainly on leaves where weeping fig pests feed. Identify the type of pest infestation affecting your tree before moving forward with treatment.

Identify a weeping fig thrip infestation on your tree by searching for dark brown to black pests which measure just under one-seventh of an inch in length. Look for curled or folded leaves as well as the presence of swollen growths or red-purple spots on the undersides of leaves.

Whiteflies can infest your tree. Examine your tree's leaves for yellowing, premature dropping, the appearance of tiny white-yellow flies and the presence of whitish specks on the undersides of leaves. Tap the leaves gently if your tree is experiencing a whitefly infestation, the pests will take flight and are easy to see with the naked eye.

Inspect leaves and twigs for dark brown bumps with a slimy appearance as verification of a fig scale infestation. Search for these tiny pests which resemble an oyster shell are and typically stationary look also for scarred, bumpy plant tissue which results from their feeding.

Remove and destroy affected plant parts for any type of infestation. Cover your hands with gloves and pull leaves or carefully cut infected plant parts with pruning shears.

Control thrips while leaves are still young and expanding in order to prevent serious damage. Release natural enemies, such as green lacewings or lady beetles as a biological method. Contact a professional for assistance in applying an insecticide such as neonicotinoid insecticides or acephate if your tree is experiencing a severe infestation.

Control whiteflies naturally with the release of natural enemies such as parasitic wasps. Saturate the undersides of leaves with insecticidal soap once every week until the problem subsides for a more intense form of management. Contact a professional for the application of insecticides such as cyfluthrin or bifenthrin in extreme cases.

Control fig scale on your weeping fig tree by releasing natural enemies such as parasitic wasps. Employ chemical control through the use of narrow range oil during the dormant season, according to the University of California IPM Online.

Fiddle Leaf Fig Tree Quick Overview

Quick Facts

OriginWestern and Central Africa
Scientific NameFicus lyrata
Plant typebroadleaf evergreen
Hardiness zone9-11
Max growth40 feet outdoors, 6 feet indoors
Poisonous forcats and dogs
Lightfull sun
Waterfair amount every 10 days
Temperaturewarm and humid
Soilmedium moisture, loamy and well-drained
Humiditymist regularly in summer
Propagationfrom cuttings
Pestsscales, aphids and mites

How do you divide a fig tree and when. Also how to wrap for the cold?

I would like to know this also

Explain "divide?" It is either a tree with a main trunk or? Are you sure those are not suckers to be trimmed off?

What zone are you in? Is the "tree" in ground or in a pot?

I am in Zone 9 and we just had our first rain on Friday night into the wee hours of Saturday morning. Last measurable rain was April or May with negligible amounts. Yesterday the Santa Ana winds kicked up, and everything was shredded to bits, similar to a low category hurricane. Uprooted trees everywhere, due to the drought. Caused havoc all over the place. The leaves on my fig tree are all dried out and will not recover and just fall off. Now we are in single digit humidity, which doesn't help either. For the rest of the country that has "normal" humidity, let me tell you, it's DRY! You feel like a wrinkled up raisin and no amount of lotion remedies the situation. Here is the patio thermometer at 8:30 a.m. this morning. The hundreds of figs on the trees, I hope will ripen by Thanksgiving as we are still in the 80's to low 90's.

Here is how to wrap a fig tree for winter:

If you want photos of my trees, let me know!