Asked on Jul 21, 2014

Black caterpillars on my ferns

Joyce Boshell
by Joyce Boshell
My Boston Ferns have little black caterpillars eating holes in the fronds and leaving droppings on my porch. What can I use to get rid of the caterpillars?
  4 answers
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jul 22, 2014
    Sounds like the Florida fern caterpillar. I'd try brushing them off into a can of soapy water and seeing how many you can dispatch that way. Otherwise, treat with Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.). It is sold in powder form as Dipel while the liquid is Thuricide.
  • Joyce Boshell Joyce Boshell on Jul 22, 2014
    The caterpillar is black, ~1.5 inch long and the width of a ballpoint pen refill. Well, then can I prepare a 5-gallon bucket with soapy water and turn the fern upside down and dip the fronds into the water. I could fashion supports to keep the soil out of the water and let it set for a while. Then change the water and wash off the soapy water?
  • Lynn Alexander Carter Lynn Alexander Carter on Sep 13, 2018

    I have this same problem and am considering submerging my fern in soapy water. Did you try it Joyce and was it successful? I hate to lose my beautiful fern! Thank you

  • Patrice Graham Patrice Graham on Jun 17, 2020

    I have this same problem, my fern is very large.

    I can’t pick it up to turn upside down- what are some other ways to get rid of these worms? They are eating the fern..