Last updated on February 5th, 2022
Recently, a friend of mine was lamenting about her garden which was destroyed by an aphid attack followed by an attack by caterpillars.
I was surprised because I know what caterpillars are, but what are aphids, and what plants are they attracted to? My friend looked at my bewildered face and asked whether I knew what she was talking about!
Well, I said no, and then she told me that several small insects like aphids, whiteflies eat ferns and other garden plants and this can spell disaster for any gardener if it’s not controlled. It got me thinking about animals that eat ferns.
Animals that eat fern plants:
Aphids are tiny insects that you will find infesting the underside of the ferns in your house. They insert the stylets into the phloem of the fern and suck the sap from the plant.
The excess sap is seen in the form of honeydew on the underside of the leaves. You will find it difficult to brush these off from the leaves of your fern.
If you find that the leaves of your fern are getting discolored and there are black dots on the underside of the leaves, then it is undoubtedly an aphid attack.
Whiteflies, too, like aphids, suck the sap from the fern fronds. These insects also cause discoloration of the leaves of the plants.
Eventually, the plant dies due to a lack of nutrition. The sticky honeydew is left on the vein of the leaves from the excess sap the whiteflies have excreted.
Whiteflies are dangerous as they can destroy all types of ferns, and they spread very fast. Hence, whenever you feel a whitefly infestation, you must control it at the onset.
Grasshoppers can prove to be dangerous to ferns because they prefer to feed on any broadleaved plant.
Grasshoppers lay eggs on the ground, and once these eggs are hatched, the young hatchlings start feeding on the plants.
The grasshoppers lay eggs during autumn, and the eggs hatch during spring.
During spring, the ferns grow young leaves, making them ideal as a food for the hatchling grasshoppers.
Therefore if you want to protect your ferns from grasshoppers, spray your ferns with insecticides at the onset of spring (pet-friendly insecticides if you have pets in or around your home).
Deer are herbivores, and they will eat almost any type of foliage. However, most ornamental ferns are not a favorite amongst deer.
But if you are in the habit of growing ferns in your backyard, then some might attract deer.
For example, deer can eat the fronds of royal fern and autumn fern. But the animal will avoid ornamental ferns like the Japanese fern.
The deer are usually drawn towards ferns if the plant is sprouting and whenever they are unable to forage sufficient foliage in the nearby woods.
Crickets belong to insects that have sharp jaws and feed on both plant and animal matter. You might find crickets sitting quietly on the fronds of your ferns.
This means the insects are trying to find a suitable spot to start eating the fern leaves.
Crickets sometimes attack plants in hoards, and this can prove to be a disaster for your ferns.
But you can easily remove one or two crickets with the help of pet-friendly insecticides and pesticides.
Caterpillars are found feeding on leaves of various plants, but there are specific caterpillars that feed on young fronds of ferns.
For example, the Florida fern caterpillar, a tiny black insect, is known to feed exclusively on the fronds of ferns.
The young caterpillars feed on the more immature fronds, while the older ones feed on, the older foliage.
Unfortunately, these are resistant creatures, and it is difficult to kill these fern-eating caterpillars.
These caterpillars can attack all types of ferns, the ones grown outside on hedges and even those grown indoors like the asparagus fern.
Weevils eat all types of foliage, including ferns. The primary reason is that their diet is plant-based.
Therefore, the adult weevil will eat the vegetation, including the leaves, the fronds, and all other parts of the fern plant.
Another issue that you will be faced with weevils is that the adult weevils lay eggs at the root of the plant.
This means the larvae will eat the roots. Thus, when weevils attack the fern in your garden, these insects will destroy the entire plant.
Mites are tiny arachnids, and fern mites can cause genuine harm to your plants. The mites that you will find attacking the ferns in your house are spider mites.
They are not visible to the naked eye but can be seen with a microscope. They feed on the leaf tissue.
Therefore you should use insecticidal soap on your plants periodically to prevent a spider mite infestation from becoming your worst nightmare.
Fern mites cause the plants to have stunted growth, and leaves will become bronze-colored.
Beetles are also known to eat ferns. So you will find beetles eating the ferns in your garden in hordes.
But compared to the outdoor ferns, the indoor ferns tend to attract more beetles. The primary reason for this is the high humidity.
Beetles prefer the indoor plants’ warmth and humidity and tend to feed on the softer leaves of the indoor ferns.
Moreover, the leaves also have more sap than the outdoor ferns, making it easier for the beetles to bite into.
Earwigs are soft-bodied insects that can thoroughly chew away the leaves of plant matter. You will often find these nestled at the bottom of your fern plant, and they will scurry away the moment you move the pot.
But if you do not control earwigs, these insects can destroy your ferns, especially if you have indoor ferns.
For example, in the garden, earwigs will be found in the moist and dark parts and can eat the young fronds of your fern. This can cause stunted growth of your plant.
The animals that eat fern plants are aphids, whiteflies, grasshoppers, deer, crickets, caterpillars, weevils, mites, beetles, and earwigs.