A friend has a fig tree which seems to be the target of a worm. As far as I can see the leaves and fruit do not have any bite marks or worms/insects inside them, but the fruit born was less this year, and they mentioned that they think a worm or worms have burrowed into the tree's roots somehow and is killing it.

I researched and found that 'nematodes' are a common problem and sounded like the root of the problem, though they are apparently microscopic, and it seems like they have seen the worms themselves, so now I'm not so sure. As far as I know I don't think it is the borer/carpenter worms as there is no sawdust that they leave behind. The roots seem to be damaged almost as if medium sized parts of the bark is damaged.

Anyone have any ideas or know what can be done to cure the tree?

  • 1
    Need some clarification of your question. First, what part of the world is this fig growing in and second, what, precisely, are the symptoms its showing. Bearing less fruit isn't particularly remarkable - are there signs of damage? You mention the roots seeming 'to be damaged AS IF medium sized parts of the bark' are damaged. Are you saying there's no visible damage?
    – Bamboo
    Commented Jan 6, 2013 at 15:48
  • South Africa. There isn't damage on the fruit itself or the leaves - There IS damage I can see on parts of the bark around where the tree meets the ground seems to be peeling/loose, like patchy dark scars - I have to recall from memory what I saw. But the other parts of the tree look fine. It has been a hot summer so far. I also remember now someone said that the fruit has also been falling off from the tree when they are still unripe.
    – frufo
    Commented Jan 6, 2013 at 16:11

2 Answers 2


Fruit drop in figs can be caused by nematodes but there are other causes. From this document causes include:

  • cool weather
  • insufficient irrigation
  • weak trees and nematodes.
  • Figs that develop on the ends of branches often dry out or drop because there has not been enough heat for them to mature.
  • Smyrna-type figs will drop when they are partly grown if they have not been pollinated.

If the problem is nematodes then they cannot be seen without a microscope but you would be able to see knots or galls on the roots.

Control can be attempted by using bio control in the form of a green manure crop of mustard that is grown and very lightly tilled into the soil.

You can be a detective and eliminate the causes listed above one by one before trying to examine the roots with a trowel.


That is a borer ; various kinds attack various trees. It is hard to get poison into the borers . If you have only a few trees, I have found killing them pushing a stiff wire into the hole can help. In east TX when a yellow pine is cut down, after a few days you hear the borers chewing in it.

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