The Q&A Archives: Basil Pests

Question: I noticed little green bugs on a recently purchased basil plant from a nursery. I cut off all the leaves and branches with bugs and kept the rest, which wasn't much. It's pretty sad now and my husband wondered if there was something else I could have done about the bugs. I told him I didn't think so considering we are going to eat it - was I wrong?

Answer: Well, you could have picked off the bugs instead of the leaves! The critters were probably aphids--very common on greenhouse-grown plants. You can also try hosing off these small pests if your basil is outside. Another technique is making a spray with a bit of dish detergent and water and spray it on with a spray bottle. Be sure to cover the leaves--top and bottom--with the soap solution. If that doesn't work, you can control persistent infestations with a solution of insecticidal soap or a pyrethrum-base insecticide, both of which are safe for food crops when used according to label directions.

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