The Q&A Archives: basil

Question: The leaves on the basil get little holes in them. I never see anything chewing on them. I plant them usually in the same area outside. Some years this happens and some not.Just wondering what I could do?

Answer: There are a number of pests that find basil attractive but if you are not seeing the insects, there's not much point in spraying something to try to control them. Here are the most common pests of basil:
Aphids are a common warm weather pest. Small, soft-bodied insects with long antennae that are generally wingless. Aphids primarily feed on tender new growth, causing the leaves to appear malformed or puckered. They are visible to the eye, and can be identified by the shiny, clear excretion called honeydew that they leave behind. Aphids can be controlled by a variety of botanical sprays, including insecticidal soap, pyrethrum, rotenone, and horticultural oil. Beneficial parasitic insects such as ladybugs, lacewings, and aphid parasites also are effective aphid controllers.

Japanese Beetles: These 1/2?, metallic green beetles can cause major crop damage in little time. Japanese beetle damage is characterized by large uneven holes and chew marks on a plant?s foliage. Beetles spend 10 months of the year as grubs in the soil before emerging to breed in the summer. Traps are available to help control the population. Beneficial nematodes, as well as Bt and Milky Spore disease are all controls for the grub stage of Japanese Beetles.

Leafhopper: There are many species of leafhopper. Generally, these insects are 1/8-1/4? long, wedge-shaped and light in color. Leafhoppers can be detected by a distinct stippled or spotted appearance on the tops of affected foliage. Besides causing cosmetic damage to the plants, leafhoppers are also responsible for spreading viral diseases. Pyrethrum, rotenone, neem and horticultural oil sprays are effective against leafhoppers.

Hope the descriptions of the damage might give you a clue as to who is munching on your basil!

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