Updated: June 1, 2022

Fig trees are a great addition to any garden. They are low maintenance, provide shade, and produce delicious fruit. However, fig trees can also attract pests like slaters, which can damage the leaves and fruits. Slaters are small, grayish-brown insects that resemble pill bugs or roly-polies. They are also known as woodlice or sowbugs. In this article, we will explain how to get rid of slaters on fig tree plants.

Identify the problem

The first step in getting rid of slaters is to identify the problem. Look for signs of infestation such as damaged leaves, fruits, or stems. You may also see slaters crawling around the base of the tree or hiding under pots or debris. Slaters are most active at night, so you may have to inspect your fig tree after dark with a flashlight.

Remove hiding places

Slaters like to hide in dark and damp places, so removing their hiding places can help reduce their population. Remove any debris, fallen leaves, or mulch from around the fig tree. Trim back any overgrown branches that touch the ground or walls. Make sure the soil is well-drained and not too wet.

Use natural remedies

There are several natural remedies that can help get rid of slaters on fig trees. Here are some effective options:

  • Diatomaceous earth: This natural powder is made from fossilized algae and works by dehydrating insects. Sprinkle a thin layer of diatomaceous earth around the base of the fig tree and on the leaves.
  • Copper tape: Slaters do not like copper, so wrapping copper tape around the trunk of the fig tree can deter them from climbing up.
  • Beer trap: Fill a small container with beer and bury it in the soil near the fig tree. Slaters will be attracted to the beer and drown in it.
  • Essential oils: Some essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus can repel slaters. Mix a few drops of essential oil with water and spray it on the leaves and stems of the fig tree.

Use pesticides

If natural remedies do not work, you may have to resort to chemical pesticides. However, be aware that pesticides can harm beneficial insects and pollute the environment. Always read the label instructions carefully and follow them strictly. Here are some common pesticides that can be used to control slaters:

  • Pyrethrin: This natural pesticide is derived from chrysanthemum flowers and works by paralyzing insects. It is safe for humans and pets but can harm bees and other pollinators.
  • Bifenthrin: This synthetic pesticide is effective against a wide range of pests but can persist in the environment and harm non-target organisms.
  • Carbaryl: This broad-spectrum pesticide is toxic to many insects, including slaters. However, it is also toxic to birds, mammals, and aquatic life.

Prevent future infestations

Once you have successfully gotten rid of slaters on your fig tree, you should take measures to prevent future infestations. Here are some tips:

  • Keep the area around the fig tree clean and dry.
  • Use mulch made of materials that slaters do not like such as gravel or cocoa shells.
  • Avoid over-fertilizing or over-watering the fig tree, as this can attract pests.
  • Plant companion plants that repel slaters such as garlic, chives, or marigolds.

By following these steps, you can get rid of slaters on your fig tree plant and keep it healthy and productive.


What are slaters?

Slaters are small, grayish-brown insects that resemble pill bugs or roly-polies. They are also known as woodlice or sowbugs.

What do slaters eat?

Slaters feed on decaying organic matter such as fallen leaves, mulch, or compost. They can also damage fruits and leaves of plants.

Are slaters harmful to humans?

No, slaters are not harmful to humans. They do not bite or sting and do not carry diseases.

Can slaters be beneficial?

Yes, slaters can play a role in decomposing organic matter and recycling nutrients in the soil. However, they can also become pests when they feed on plants.

How to prevent slaters from infesting my fig tree?

To prevent slaters from infesting your fig tree, keep the area around it clean and dry, use mulch made of materials that slaters do not like, avoid over-fertilizing or over-watering the fig tree, and plant companion plants that repel slaters.