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Fig tree borer

Phryneta spinator

Fig tree borer / Willow borer (Eng.), Vyeboomboorder / Wilgerboorder (Afr.)

Can cause extensive damage and mortality of fig trees and willow trees.

A large black-grey longhorn beetle which are common pests on fig trees and willow trees. Females bore into the trunks and lay eggs. The larvae emerge and feed inside the tree and move towards the core of the trunk. Many people have lost many trees due to these beetles.



-No description available for eggs. Eggs are laid in slits in the bark of trunks. -Larvae are flat, cream-coloured and legless. They can reach a length of up to 40 mm when matured. The head is small, but the thorax are large and swollen. Strong mandibles are visible which it use to feed inside the trunk. -Pupae are enclosed in a constructed cell made from calcium carbonate together with silk and gum. Pupae will be found under the bark. -Adults are strong, robust longhorns which are about 35 mm long, with antennae which are almost similar to the body length. They are dark, grey-brown in colour with a prominent spine on both sides of the thorax. Males are smaller than females.
-Damage on bark is a result of adults nibbling. -Sometimes they will feed on the skin of unripe figs which lead to crop loss, especially for fig farmers. -Most damage is caused by the larvae (grubs), tunneling in the tree which weakens, and even kill, the trees.


Found in most parts of Africa. Also found in most parts of South Africa, and became very abundant in the Western Cape since the 1990s.

Biological treatment

No information exists on natural enemies for the beetles in southern Africa. Mechanical treatment includes covering the trunks with a steel mesh. The mesh should cover the trunks from the surface of the ground to approximately one meter. Clear weeds from the trunks as the females can use it as shelter when eggs are laid. Plant garlic or other herbs which could act as a repellent for these unwanted beetles. When a fresh hole is found, you can use a piece of blue wire and stick it into the hole. You can hook the grub out and kill it. Use a sealer, in a paste form, and apply to the hole. This will seal off the hole and prevent further infections.

Chemical treatment

A synthetic pyrethroid can be sprayed on the trunks and branches to kill larvae as they emerge, but this treatment will need to be repeated a couple of times throughout the season.

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