What’s eating my fatsia?

Last week I complained about the massive number of spider webs popping up in the garden, especially on and around my succulents. But as annoying as these webs are, spiders are very beneficial and don’t eat plants.

The same can’t be said about the rapscallions that have been devouring my variegated fatsia (Fatsia japonica ‘Variegata’).


The first time I noticed it, the leaves had just a few holes here and there. But within a couple of days, the holes kept getting larger and more numerous.


Before I knew it, entire leaves were stripped down to the veins. What astounded me was the speed with which this all happened.


This is what the center of the plant looks like now. All the new growth has been completely devoured. I have no idea how long it will take for my fatsia to recover, if it ever does.


Does anybody have any idea what kind of pest could have caused this? My best guess is some kind of caterpillar. I went out after dark one evening but couldn’t find anything. Curiously enough, none of the plants in the vicinity show any kind of damage.


  1. Do you see any droppings? Usually you can see droppings on the leaves. I'm not sure but it could be a grasshopper as well. Good luck.

    1. I looked and couldn't find any droppings. But there's a creeping wire vine growing at the base of this fatsia so it's difficult to see what might have dropped from above.

  2. You have the influx of spiders, we have caterpillers everywhere, even had some in the house. Could be some kind of caterpiller or maybe a cutworm? Try setting a shallow pan out with some beer in it and see if you get anything.

  3. I'm curious myself Gerhard, I haven't seen a fatsia leaf as devoured as that before as they seem to be problem free most of the time (obviously not this time). It looks more like a Monstera leaf now!

  4. I'm thinking catapillars! Just yesterday I noticed a large hole in my ornamental rubarb only to find a large critter caught in the act... This seems a bad season for them, they're everywhere, they also seem to like podophyllum!

  5. I'm thinking catapillars! Just yesterday I noticed a large hole in my ornamental rubarb only to find a large critter caught in the act... This seems a bad season for them, they're everywhere, they also seem to like podophyllum!

  6. Hope you don't mind me coming in late here - I am now in Portugal - in the north - and last year something ate my fatsia like this too ! I found nothing at first ..... Now ... I have given up planting ordinary lilies as the beetles eat them alive - and guess what? I found lily beetles on my fatsia ! And they appeared to be eating where the 'nibbled edges' were ! I don't know if it WAS them ... but .. my poor fatsia is just so many tatters ...

    I hope to find something to kill off the beasts anyhow !!! And am trimming the poor fatsia right back which is a real pain as I wanted it to be a nice tall one by now !!

  7. My fatsia is getting eaten and I have found some small brown beetles near the plant. I have sprayed the plant with a general bug/fungi spray and am hoping for the best!

  8. I also have a Fatsia that is looking like net curtains. it started towards last autumn. Last year I did get Red Lilly Beetle that devastated everything. Haven't seen any larva or anything on my Fatsia this spring. I have however seen three Red Lilly Beetles. They are now extinct, DEAD. I made a mixture of garlic and washing up liquid and that has done the trick.ii check every day and so far fingers crossed nothing to be seen. Boil garlic in a pan, strain garlic,saving the water. Add washing up liquid to garlic water and spray on lava or beetle . It works.

    1. Great tip! Thank you very much. I bet that works on all kinds of pests.

  9. I am in Southern California, San Diego, and having the same problem with my indoor Fatsia Japonica. A few times I have checked in the middle of the night, hoping to find a caterpillar or other bug I could get rid of, but no luck. I have not seen one thing I could spray with your solution, "Unknown," so I am wondering if simply spraying the plant from top to bottom, on both sides of the leaves, would help.

  10. I've had exactly the same problem and now I know what the problem is.
    Look carefully under each leaf and you might come across part of the leaf brought together with a Web like substance,
    Inside this tiny bug made sleeping bag, you'll find a thin green caterpillar.
    I found 3 on my plant and had to take out the whole leaf and few others they'd been at.
    Let's see if this stops the munching in its tracks.
    One can only hope but the plant is strong and has come on well since I put it in a couple of month's ago.
    Good look all.


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