3 Common Avocado Tree Pests and What You Can Do About Them

by on July 25, 2012



The most  common insect you’ll see on an avocado tree is the ant, which is interesting because ants don’t feed on the avocado tree directly. The ant feeds on honeydew which is secreted by several insects, which makes them both a blessing and a curse. They’re a blessing because seeing ants is an indicator that there is another pest issue. A curse because the ants can often interrupt the biological controls that might otherwise thwart the offending insect. Get rid of ants by first pruning all lower limbs up to a height of no lower than 2 feet from the ground. Then apply a wide band of sticky material around the base of the tree trunk. This will interrupt the ant’s ability to get into the tree allowing you to manage the other pests undeterred.



If you see honeydew on your leaves, especially in combination with a sooty mold, mealybugs may be the cause. Mealybugs are terribly destructive. They suck out the juices of a plant through the leaves, stunting its growth tremendously and even causing the eventual death of the tree in severe cases. Ants are usually present with mealybugs, but once the ants are controlled, natural enemies like birds and ladybird beetles will usually manage the infestation quickly. Minor infestations can be managed by hand picking or dabbing with rubbing alcohol. Bigger infestations can be managed with a strong spray of water and the application of an insecticidal soap or neem oil.


Slugs & Snails

Slugs and snails are annoying in the avocado trees, but the good news is that they only strike when it is cool and damp, usually at night. They attack leaves and fruit. They are easily located and picked off if you are around at the right time, usually after dark and early in the morning. Shallow plates can be placed at the base of the trees and filled with beer. The snails and slugs can’t resist the fermented liquid and will drink themselves to death. If you find your significant other face down underneath the tree, that’s another story.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

donna smith February 14, 2014 at 3:25 PM

A large ant pile is on the ground next to tree. If I put ant poison on them will it hurt the tree or the fruit?


Carol April 9, 2014 at 9:59 AM

I recommend Terro Ant Baits – it will not hurt any of the plants.

Check out these articles to help you with ants:


Ruby Ballesteros April 6, 2016 at 10:32 AM

Was concern, they were after the hummingbird feeder.


Ruby Ballesteros April 6, 2016 at 10:33 AM

Was concern since hummingbird feeder hangs from tree. Now ants crawling around.


mike stange May 2, 2016 at 11:30 AM

My newly planted (10 months ago) avocado tree leaves are being eaten and I do not see any pests or insects on them. How do I treat what I dont see???



Carol May 2, 2016 at 3:44 PM

How big are the holes ? It’s hard to say without seeing it. Bring a leaf to your local nursery and they can help you, just make sure you use an organic solution. Best of luck! Avocado trees rock.


JOE May 27, 2016 at 7:01 AM

SAME problem here with the tree I planted last year. I just treated mine a few days ago with a good dusting of BT powder on the leaves and around the ground area from the trunk to the drip zone. ~ I will later apply a wet spray of Safer Soap as a follow-up.
I have leaves that are eaten along the edges and also many with brown areas on them thus it seems that there is more than one pest that is causing the problem!
Good luck with yours, my friend!


Mary June 25, 2016 at 9:05 PM

My tree is being eaten from the bottom of the stem it looks like it’s being shaved or pealed at the bottom of the soil up what do you thing it is


Carol June 28, 2016 at 5:10 AM

I’m not really sure, can you post a photo?


Darcey December 24, 2016 at 7:32 AM

Mine is doing the same for the fist time today I see tine bugs crawling on it. I keep it potted in the screen patio. I am going to put it outside now because of the bugs. Very frustrating this is the 5th one I tried to grow, I end up throwing them away because of bugs.


Carol January 5, 2017 at 12:38 PM

Sometimes pests will arrive if there is either too much or too little as well as sunlight. Do you think it is in the correct spot for it to thrive? Most avocado trees do better in the ground. I haven’t had much luck myself with avocado trees in pots.


TB March 5, 2017 at 8:28 AM

I am having ant problem on ground too, but they are fire ants. I don’t know that Terro is going to take care of that, will it??


Carol March 5, 2017 at 10:25 AM

It should work


Hernan July 8, 2017 at 8:32 AM

We planted an avocado tree we’ve had in a in a pot for a couple of years. Finally moved to a house with a yard and planted about 9 months ago. It grew right away and was looking beautiful. About a month ago we noticed a part of the trunk near the ground was missing. This week almost all the leaves are shriveled up and the trunk/bark looks as if it’s been eaten near the ground.


Carol July 8, 2017 at 9:17 AM

Interesting…. do you think an animal got to it? I’m not sure without seeing a photo what it could be. Your local nursery may know of any diseases it could have gotten, but sounds like an animal to me. Thanks for writing in.


Steve August 31, 2017 at 8:25 PM

I have an avocado tree grown from a seed. It took a long time to root it but now it’s about two feet high with lovely large leaves. Problem is something, maybe flies??, are eating the leaves from the outside of the leaf inward. I’ve never seen a crawling bug on the leaves and it seems to happen right after I water it. I’ll water in the morning and by night there are several leaves with damage. Only thing I’ve ever noticed on the leaves are the occasional fly. I’ve watched them and they have their “tongue”?? on it, not moving, just on it. Maybe sucking and dissolving the leaf, not sure, just!


Carol September 1, 2017 at 2:23 PM

Can you send us a photo? Email the photo at



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