What Is Eating My Basil? Discovering The Culprit


Growing basil has become a very popular trend in many home gardeners simply because it is very easy to grow and quite versatile in the kitchen. Basil plants love to grow under the sun. When its leaves start to develop, you can start pick a few of them to make flavorful Italian and Asian dishes.

Basil leaves are very important when it comes to cooking different cuisines, but more than that, they can also be used to infuse oils, vinegar as well as soaps with their distinct flavor and aroma. Its leaves, however, are very susceptible to attack from a wide array of hungry insects and animals.

So you can protect your basil plant better, you need to know what is eating it so you can take the necessary precautions. So you will know what animal or insect is the culprit, you should check the damage that has happened on the leaves.

What Is Eating My Basil? Discovering The Culprit



Whiteflies are known to gather under the leaves of the basil. They look like small, dusty flies that will congregate and drink the juices of the plant. Although they are not known to cause holes on the leaves of the basil, these insects can create a lot of damage since they can cause widespread leaf drop.

Whiteflies are known to be very active during summer, they can also cause an infestation for as long as your basil plants are thriving. The best way to deal with whiteflies is to spray your basil with water from a hose, or use a vacuum to remove the whiteflies while they are still sluggish in the morning.

You can also use a hose and spray the leaves with water so you can kill all the whiteflies and make sure that they will no longer be able to cause any harm. You can also use organic insecticides to kill them or you can make your own insecticide soap to easily get rid of them for good.



Aphids can also damage your basil plants. They can cause the basil leaves to turn yellow or to wilt. They can also cause your basil plant to have stunted growth. Aphids can be seen as small red, black or yellow dots that are moving on the surface of the leaves. They are active in temperatures of 65 - 80 degrees °F.

If the aphid population in your garden gets too high, they can easily destroy your beloved basil plants by drinking its juices. One of the ways to prevent them from damaging your basil is by making sure that there are no ants and weeds around your plant since these can encourage aphids to infest your basil.

You can put a sticky ring on the base of your plants and you can manually remove weeds if you want to discourage aphids from thriving on the basil leaves. You can also make your own aphid killer by mixing 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap and a quart of water. Spray this solution to kill aphids on contact.

Snails Or Slugs


These slimy animals love basil and they can create ragged holes on the leaves. They are often drawn to the mulch that most gardeners use to help provide moisture for their basil plants. As soon as the snails or slugs go near the mulch they will start to climb up the basil plants to feed on its foliage.

It can be quite hard to see them feeding on your plants because they often feed at night. The best way to deal with them is by putting diatomaceous earth on the mulch and by using snail or slug baits. Most baits can kill these garden pests without harming the plants or your pets.

Japanese Beetles

japanese beetles

Japanese beetles will typically attack your garden for a month during summer. These insects can eat the tender basil leaves but stay away from the large leaf veins. If they attack your basil, they will leave behind leaves that will look like skeletons since only the veins of the leaves will remain.

If you want to get rid of them, you can manually pick them up and kill them, or you can use a garden fabric to cover your plants and keep the beetles away. Some gardeners also say that you can plant garlic near the basil to keep the Japanese beetles away.


potted basil

It can sometimes be very frustrating to see that after taking care of basil plants for weeks, you one day see its leaves being devoured by a pest. Since basil is quite delicious, you need to understand that many insects and animals will find their foliage ideal to feed on.

In order to easily find out the culprit, you need to check the leaves of your basil and you should also try to check the mulch and the plants around it. If your basil has been eaten, you need to consider how the leaves look like. If it has ragged holes, then it might be under attack by snails or slugs.

If the soft part of the leaves have been eaten but not the veins, then your culprit might be the Japanese beetle. If the leaves start dropping off or if it starts to turn yellow and wilt, then you should try to look for the presence of whiteflies or aphids on or underneath its leaves.

Aside from those that were mentioned, grasshoppers, deer, earwigs and even rabbits can also eat your basil. Check each plant carefully and try to protect them from large animals by using a fence. Use organic insecticides and baits when dealing with insects and smaller pests.

Have pests tried to eat your basil in the past? Share your experiences with us in the comment section below.

About the Author Emily Taylor

My name is Emily Taylor, gardening is my passion and I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone. I know that there are millions of people out there want their backyard and garden be attractive just like their front yard, so I am here to help you create your own backyard paradise.

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1 comment
Peter Hindmarsh says May. 2018

Whatever is eating my plant leaves, it is quuick and greedy. I am wondering if it can be either a rat, a possum or a cat?

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