Though there are technically no bugs called basil bugs, there are plenty of bugs that feast on basil plants. Aphids, mites, cutter worms, beetles and ants are all very fond of basil plants. Since basil is a plant you eat or cook with the leaves, insecticides are not always the best choice for caring for these plants. There are plenty of natural alternatives to keep bugs from your basil. Your best option depends on what it is that is eating your basil plants.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- Green lacewings
- Parasitic wasps
- Garlic plants
- Snus or chewing tobacco
- Crushed red peppers
Release either green lacewings or ladybirds into your garden. These two insects feed on aphids and other small insects and will clean your garden out of any of these pests. The drawback to using ladybirds is that they are nomadic in nature and will leave the garden once all the adult pests have been eaten. This leaves you with the new hatchlings of aphids and the ladybirds are gone. The green lacewings are less nomadic than ladybirds and may stick around and wait for the hatchlings to grow up before feasting on them. Neither of these insects will eat any of your basil.
Release parasitic wasps into the garden if the pest that is bothering you is the Japanese beetle. These wasps will paralyse the beetles and insert eggs into the body of the pest. The wasp larvae will feed on the beetle and emerge to start the process all over again. The drawback to using parasitic wasps is that they don't know they are working for you. You may get stung when harvesting your basil.
Grow species of plants that repel these pests naturally in the area around your basil. Garlic and mint both repel the aphids and mites as well as the cutworm. Planting dill or coriander will attract the parasitic wasps, which will search out the beetles and do their job. If the basil is part of a flower garden, petunias and geraniums will repel grasshoppers and other types of crickets. It's usually best to have these plants blooming before placing your delicate basil in the garden.
Mix one tin or pouch of snus or chewing tobacco with 1 pt. of water. Snus is a pouched tobacco product typically with more nicotine content than snuff or chewing tobacco. Let the mixture sit for a day or two. Strain out the solids with a cheesecloth and put the liquid into a spray bottle. This method is known as using nicotine water and is effective for several days. Spray the entire plant, including underneath the leaves where aphids like to hide. Wash off leaves before using in cooking or eating.
Mix 1 pt. water in a sprayer with 1 tsp of dish soap. Spray the plants with this mixture in the cool of the evening so that the sun does not bake the soap into the leaves. You can also combine nicotine water and soap or crushed red peppers with soap and then mix well.
Spray the plants with azadirachtin, which is extracted from neem trees. This is another natural chemical that will kill the insects attacking your basil plants. You can purchase this product in many garden centres.
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