Ficus (Ficus spp.) are commonly grown outdoors or as houseplants. Aphids can infest both indoor and outdoor plants. If you notice the tiny insects on your ficus, there are steps you can take to protect your plant and stop further infestation.
Aphids are small — typically pinhead to matchstick head in size — soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects. They can be red, yellow, white, brown, black or green, depending on species. They often gather in clusters on stems and the undersides of leaves when they are feeding. If disturbed, aphids are slow-moving and won’t fly away.
Aphids feed by inserting their mouth parts into plants and sucking out the liquid within. While small numbers of aphids do little damage to your ficus, large populations can cause leaves to curl, turn yellow and stunt shoot growth. Another sign of aphid damage is honeydew, a sticky substance the aphids secrete, that covers plants and attracts the sooty mold fungus. Aphids can also transmit viral plant diseases and make plants more susceptible to disease.
Inspect new plants for aphids before introducing them into your home or garden. Clear any weeds from your garden as aphids often live on them. Check your ficus twice a week for aphids, making sure to look on the undersides of leaves as well as stems. This will ensure you catch infestations early when numbers are low and damage is minimal.
Aphids are usually easy to control and you don’t need to use insecticides. Spray your ficus with a strong stream of water to knock aphids off of the plant, making sure to spray the undersides of leaves. Wipe or spray your ficus with a solution of 1 teaspoon of mild dish soap, a pinch of cayenne pepper and 1 quart of water once a week. You can purchase and release predator insects, like ladybugs and lacewings, into your garden.