The Q&A Archives: Sevin Dust On Herbs?

Question: Something is eating my small basil plants. A local garden store clerk recommended Sevin Dust. Is this o.k.? I?ve had no luck finding a floating row cover, so am looking for an alternative.

Answer: I'd be curious to know if the store clerk would make an application of Sevin on basil that he or she was going to consume. Sevin is a powerful insecticide that is effective against a number of beetles, caterpillars and other insects. It's also highly toxic to bees, so if you use the product on a flowering plant, you can kill off your local pollinators. Sevin is registered for use on a number of crops and ornamentals, but basil is not one of the plants listed on the label. There may be any number of reasons for that - from residue that makes the plant unfit for consumption to potential harm to the plant in the form of burning of the leaf tissues or stunting the plants growth. A better solution is to put up with the damage and allow the plant to outgrow the problem. If you don't see insects on the leaves, the critters have probably moved on and no further damage will occur. If you do find insects on the leaves, you can handpick them or hose them off with plain water. I really think it's better to have a few holey basil leaves than to run the risk of consuming tainted herbs, or poisoning the beneficial insects in your garden.

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