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Named after their violin-like shaped leaves, the fiddle leaf fig is a popular member of the Moraceae family and originates in western parts of Africa. Unfortunately, this beautiful tree suffers from the occasional bug like its fellow houseplants.
Get rid of bugs on your fiddle leaf fig by handpicking the pests off, rinsing both sides of the leaf surfaces with warm water, or removing pests with alcohol-dipped cotton swabs. For heavy infestations, prune the infected parts or apply a natural bug repellent on both sides of the infected leaves.
While these methods are some of the most effective ways to prevent bugs from finding a new home in your fiddle leaf fig, identifying and removing the pest can be challenging.
Below, we’ll look at the most common plant bugs, how to get rid of them, and prevent future infestations.
Bugs are a common headache for plant enthusiasts. These critters are most likely there for one reason – to eat.
It can be that they’re there to eat fungus growing in your plant’s soil, or it may be that they really enjoy fiddle leaf fig for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
But how can you get rid of them? Here are some of the most common bugs that attack the fiddle leaf fig, plus how to identify them.
One of the most familiar fiddle leaf fig pests is the mealybug.
Mealybugs operate by hitching a ride on other plants. Once they’re in your house and on your indoor plants, they’ll start to feed off the leaves – resulting in yellowing, then browning leaves.
You’ll notice them if you can see a cotton-like material in the nooks and crannies of your plant. These are nests where the female mealybug lays her eggs.
Even if you can’t see a white bug, but you can see these white patches over your plant, then the chances of infestation are very likely.
While mealybugs are easy to pick off by hand, their babies (crawlers) are impossible to see with the naked eye.
Mealybug infestations usually start at the base of the plant and move up towards the nooks of branches and the undersides of leaves.
While water will remove a lot of the mealybug nests, it won’t necessarily remove the mealybugs themselves.
Here’s how you can remove mealybugs from your fiddle leaf fig:
- Use a q-tip and rubbing alcohol to remove the nests from the nooks of the plant.
- Apply neem oil using a spray bottle and q-tip.
- Use a soapy water solution, spray it over the plant, let it sit for a few minutes, and wipe away the soapy water residue with a soft cloth.
You can also opt to introduce natural predators into your plant space.
Many people order live ladybugs online or find them at their local gardening center and release them into their plant rooms.
The ladybugs won’t infest your space and will move to the next food source when they’re done eating the mealybugs and crawlers.
Another common pest found in indoor gardens is gnats. Fortunately, your fiddle leaf fig prefers living conditions that aren’t conducive to fungus gnats.
If you do have fungus gnats, you may want to move the plant to a better spot and cut back on watering.
Gnats hate bright light and won’t infest well-draining, loosely-packed soil.
While optimal living conditions alone should prevent gnat populations, that doesn’t mean that it’s always the case – especially if you’re still trying to figure out your way around indoor plants.
Common adult fungus gnats are tiny dark, gray-black flies with gray, transparent wings and long legs. You’ll usually see them flying around the base of the plant, and if the infestation is bad, you’ll see a bunch of them emerge whenever you move or tap the pot.
Fungus gnats lay eggs in the top layers of the plant’s soil. If the soil is constantly moist, then this could create breeding grounds for gnats.
A simple solution is simply to cut back on watering your fiddle leaf fig.
You can also create a gnat-trap by adding a few drops of honey into a shallow dish or jar lid and covering it with plastic wrap that has a few holes poked into it.
Set the gnat trap at the base of the plant. These bugs are sweet-tooth and will favor honey over fungus growing in your plant.
If the infestation is light, it may only take a few days before they leave your fiddle leaf fig, but if you have a heavy infestation, it may take a few weeks for the problem to resolve.
Spider mites are the worst bug to find on your beloved fiddle leaf fig.
You’ll find that most online plant resources show you what a large infestation looks like and doesn’t show the beginning signs of spider mite infestation.
Fortunately, if you’re vigilant about bugs finding their way onto your plant, you’ll notice mites quickly.
The nice thing about catching spider mites before they’ve infested the plant is that you’ll be able to resolve the problem before it becomes a massive problem and starts spreading to your other plants – yikes!
The first warning of spider mites is webbing. If you see any signs of webbing, thin silky strands, then you want to inspect the rest of the plant for insects.
A web is the first indication of spider mite presence, and the second is small clusters on your plant’s leaves. If these clusters are disturbed, the little dots may move, confirming that it’s not a lonely house spider but a spider mite infestation.
The great news is that spider mites are the easiest insect to dislodge from your plant. Simply spray down your fiddle leaf fig with water, either using a hose or a showerhead.
You can also use a cotton bud dipped in alcohol, wipe away any mites you see on the plant, or spray the plant with watered-down dish soap.
Butterflies are entirely harmless for your fiddle leaf fig tree.
They may excrete meconium, a waste product from their metamorphosis, which may look like a drop of blood.
Butterflies often visit outdoor fiddle leaf fig trees and may catch a ride inside if you frequently move your fiddle leaf indoors and then outdoors. If you see any butterflies, you can simply sit back and watch them do their thing!
Pillbugs are a type of woodlice that rolls up into a ball to protect their tender underbelly from harm.
These bugs often shelter underneath rotting logs, rocks, moist cracks, and places with a build-up of plant debris.
Pillbugs mostly remain on the upper layer of soil, but they can burrow deeper to create a home if needed.
There are a few organic control methods you can use to get rid of pillbugs.
The first thing you can try is using food-grade diatomaceous earth. Diatom shells are powdered and added to the soil. This will kill the pill bugs from the inside out.
It’s harmless to your fiddle leaf fig and humans, so sprinkle it around the base of the plant to prevent them from latching on.
You can also use neem oil or snail and slug bait to reduce pillbugs on your fiddle leaf fig.
Here are some of the frequent reasons your fiddle leaf could have bugs:
The first thing you want to check for if you suspect a bug infestation is the soil in which your fiddle leaf fig is planted.
Bugs require water to survive, and they are more attracted to places where they can easily access water.
Overwatering your fiddle leaf fig may result in more bugs and disease in your fiddle leaf fig. It’s best to avoid overwatering this plant to prevent bugs from finding a new home with excess resources.
If your soil is dense and can’t effectively circulate air into and out of the soil, you run the risk of producing soggy soil.
Soggy soil creates a perfect place for fungus to grow, resulting in a gnat infestation.
Avoid this by using well-draining soil to retain enough water for the plant but not become waterlogged and create a home for bugs.
If your fiddle leaf is in a location of your home that experiences excessive moisture, you may see an increase in pests.
Humid environments can also cause fungus and mold to grow, resulting in root and stem rot.
By simply removing the plant from the highly humid environment, you essentially deprive the bugs of their natural water source, and they’ll either die off or move on to the next plant.
You can easily remove bugs like gnats by cutting back on watering your fiddle leaf fig, especially if it’s in a very humid environment.
You may also remove common pests such as cockroaches and ants by reducing the humidity and cutting back on watering.
The worst thing to happen is to have one plant’s bugs spread to surrounding plants. If this is the case, simply isolate all infected plants and follow the preventative measures listed for each plant.
There are many ways to prevent bugs from creating a home in or on your fiddle leaf fig.
Some of the most common methods include pruning, using organic remedies to remove them, and using prevention techniques.
Here are some of the most customary ways you can prevent and treat bugs on your fiddle leaf fig:
Pruning your fiddle leaf fig is one of the simpler ways you can prevent bugs in the future.
When you notice any weaker branches or leaves on your fiddle leaf fig, it’s best to cut those off.
This way, you’ll be able to avoid any dead or rotting parts of your plant that inevitably attract bugs.
You can also opt to use organic remedies and products to remove bugs. These include using:
- Beneficial insects
- Companion planting
- Diatomaceous earth
- Neem oil
- Beneficial nematodes
- Grapefruit halves
- Peppermint oil
- Chrysanthemum oil
- Tea tree oil
Applying (or releasing) these to infested fiddle leaf figs will get rid of the current bugs while also preventing future infestations.
If the above-mentioned products are a bit hard to come by, you can also use the following household items to ward off and remove bugs:
- Diluted dish soap
- Sticky trap
- Pepper spray
- Coffee grounds
You’ll definitely have a few of these items around the house, which is great if you’re in a pinch and need the bugs to leave as soon as possible.
The best way to get rid of bugs on your plants is to avoid having them in the first place. You can do this by implementing the following:
- Stick to a watering schedule that works with your plants’ natural evaporation.
- Water less frequently in the wintertime.
- Use healthy/new soil when you re-pot your plants.
- If you notice a bug on a neighboring plant, isolate that plant and keep an eye on the fiddle leaf fig for signs of the bug.
- If your fiddle leaf fig was outside, check that no bugs hitched a ride indoors.
By following these super simple tips, you’ll mostly be able to avoid unwanted bugs from living in your plants and save the grey hairs you’d get from trying to remove them.
There’s a variety of bugs, and each has its own specific solution to get them off and away from your fiddle leaf fig tree.
Most of the time, you want to identify the bug and remove them as much as possible by picking them off the plant and wiping the leaves clean. You can also use bug repellent and natural home remedies to remove bugs.
Take preventative measures by removing wilting leaves, trimming dead branches, and avoiding overwatering your fiddle leaf fig.
Follow these tips and advice, and you’ll have a beautifully lush fiddle leaf fig tree in no time!