When we arrived in Stanford 6 years ago the pride of our garden was a magnificent Fig tree that measured 5 by 5 metres and when in fruit, was the centre of activity for a variety of garden birds.

Sadly she succumbed to the Figtree Borer as have many figs in Stanford and Hermanus.  One day during a heavy storm she split in two and one of the sides slowly subsided to eventually come to rest on our wooden fence.  We decided to leave the skeleton, and the dead branches now host our bird feeders so she remains a centre of attraction for birds and the silhouette of the tree reminds us of her once noble deva-glory.

The Olive Woodpecker is a regular visitor to the garden and last week I spotted him feasting on a huge “worm” which appeared to be some type of larva.  I immediately speculated as to whether it could be that of the Figtree Borer and with the aid of “Spot it” was able to confirm my suspicion as true.   Now, I understand these borers are difficult to control and pesticides are apparently ineffective.  Anecdotally, I have heard you need to use wire hooks and jets of high pressure water to remove them.

As you can see from the photos below, an alternative solution is to attract the Olive Woodpeckers to your garden and allow nature to do the work for you.  Unfortunately, it is too late for our tree, but at least the unwelcome residents are providing food for the woodpeckers..

Richard Masson


  1. Michèle Stuart says:

    An excellent green narrative and solution, your photographs are stunning Richard Masson. Congratulations on always keeping us riveted and fascinated by your encounters and experiences.They fill us enthused with the desire to continue enjoying the birdlife and our photography. THank you good spotting!!!

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