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Does your Ficus Tree have curled leaves?


Cuban Ficus Thrips have been attacking these trees for several years now. The new growth is curled with small white and black insects inside. Since the leaves are curled the thrips can be hard to kill with contact insecticides. Neem Oil, Spinosad and Pyrethrins are organic recommendations to help control. If possible I would also trim off the new growth where the leaves are curled and discard the bugs first before attempting a spray. A systemic liquid or granule applied into the root system may be a more effective way to control these pests. Bonide Systemic Granules work great in pots applied every 6-8 weeks. For larger trees planted in the ground, Bayer Tree and Shrub Protect and Feed applied as a soil drench around the base of the tree may be an easier option applied every 9 months to a year. Regular watering of your ficus will keep it healthy and allows the plant to withstand and outgrow thrip damage. Excessive, fast release or improper nitrogen fertilizer application can stimulate a flush of tender new growth particularly attractive to thrips. These insects will not kill your trees, they just make them unattractive with leaf droppage.

Photo: Missouri Botanical Gardens


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Reader Interactions


  1. Tiffany says


    I had my two big ficus in one of my Bedrooms now I have an infested room full of small black little flies that look like fruit flies but they are brown. They keep appearing everywhere even after I took the plants outside. I have a new born baby so I need something natural to get rid of them please help

  2. Laurin Rinder says

    Hello. Looks Like I have the same. I just Planted 15 Nitidas and there are curled Leaves everywhere and VERY small Black Bugs inside. I also Have a 25 year old ficus Outside that was perfect since it was a small Houseplant. Now…..It covered with dead Black curled Leaves with the same thing. Please Help or maybe a referral In Los Angeles?? wow that was quick!!!!!!! Only been 2 weeks.
    Thanks so Much for any Help.

    Thanks for all the work You do to Help

    • Jesse says

      Hi Laurin – I don’t have a recommendation for a garden center in LA, but that’s a good idea. Contact a local place and see if you can bring them a sample in a sealed plastic bag. They can properly diagnose. If it is Cuban Ficus Thrips, it would be good to go ahead and trim off curled leaves and discard them and as many of the bugs as you can, then try Spinosad as a contact kill for the remaining bugs on the new plants. For the big tree outside, you may want to apply a systemic.

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