How to Keep Bugs Off Basil Plants

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Keep basil bug-free with natural pesticides.
Keep basil bug-free with natural pesticides. (Image: basil image by aliengel from Fotolia.com)

Basil is an herb cultivated for its culinary use and its fragrant leaves. It is usually a hardy plant, which has a strong aroma that keeps away most pests. However, basil is still susceptible to attack from aphids, slugs and Japanese beetles as well as spider mites and whiteflies, according to horticulture expert Joey Williamson of Clemson University Cooperative Extension. You can use natural methods to keep bugs off your basil plants.

Things You'll Need

  • Water sprayer
  • Neem oil
  • Insecticidal soap
  • Diatomaceous earth
  • Detergent
  • Glass jar
  • Water

Mix two squirts of detergent in warm water in a glass jar and shake it. Pick off any Japanese beetles on the basil plant and place them in the warm soapy water. Do this daily for a week, then weekly if the problem persists.

Control aphids, spider mites and whiteflies by mixing insecticidal soap and water and spraying the basil plant in the evening (so the sun doesn’t burn the soap into the leaves). Make sure to spray the undersides of the leaves, as aphids like to cluster there. Repeat as necessary.

Mix around five drops of neem oil in a water sprayer, shake vigorously, then spray on the basil plant as an alternative repellent for aphids, spider mites and whiteflies.

Sprinkle the ground beneath the basil plants with diatomaceous earth to stop slugs. The diatomaceous earth is spiky on the soft body of a slug, and creates a barrier between the slug and the basil plant. Reapply after each rain.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you spray basil plants with neem, insecticidal soap or ordinary soap, you must wash them thoroughly before using for culinary purposes.

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