Does Basil Repel Bugs? How To Use It To Control Pests

A thriving basil plant is not only beneficial for cooking purposes, but it also serves as a natural way to deter garden pests. Its powerful essential oils emit a strong scent that effectively repels many insects from approaching your basil plant. Consider planting basil alongside other bug-repelling herbs instead of relying on chemical insecticides.

Do ants like basil? Ants generally do not like basil because they dislike its taste and are deterred by its strong aroma. They may explore your basil plant if other insects, such as aphids, leave honeydew for them to eat, but they will normally leave your plant untouched. 

Planting basil in your garden can help to deter pests from making a home nearby. A complete herb garden has more benefits than just fresh herbs because it will also help to keep your vegetables safe.

Continue reading for more details on what pests may cause your plants harm and what plants will drive the pests away! 

Does Basil Keep Bugs Away?

Basil is one herb that helps to keep a few pests out of your garden and home. While it doesn’t keep all bugs away, it has essential oils like citronellal, nerolidol, eucalyptol, and limonene that are produced by the plant to keep pests away. 

What Bugs Don’t Like Basil?

Bugs that don’t like basil include ants, mosquitoes, flea beetles, and cabbage webworms. When looking to plant an herb garden, take this into consideration to help keep these pests away from your vegetable crops. 

How To Use Basil as a Pest Repellent

Basil’s natural pest-repelling characteristics make it great for your garden since all you have to do is plant it! You can plant it in your garden or place a potted plant in your kitchen to deter pests. Even putting fresh cuttings in water will create a bug repellent wherever you place it!

What Insects Are Attracted to Basil?

Just as we all love the taste of basil, it is also a delicious treat for many pests! See below for details on the most common basil pests and how to keep them away. 

Slugs & Snails

These nocturnal critters will take down an entire plant if they have the chance! Basil is one of their favorites, and steps should be taken to prevent them from ever tasting yours. Fennel is known to deter slugs, but diatomaceous earth (I recommend using this food-grade product) and organic slug-repelling pellets are great at making a perimeter of defense around your plant. 


Check on the underside of your leaves for cocoons or small caterpillars that roam the plant. Small pellets of poop will also be scattered around where the caterpillar has been. Use B.T. (Bacillus thuringensis) to prevent any from feeding on your plant or to kill any currently present. 


These small white insects will scatter in a flurry when you rustle the leaves of the plant. They multiply quickly and will thwart the plant’s ability to grow. Use an organic neem oil spray or insecticidal soap to kill any thrips present and to coat the other leaves to prevent any from sticking around. 

Japanese Beetles

These pests will feast on any tender leaves with basil being a top choice! Neem oil, insecticidal soap, or other organic pest sprays can be applied to stop them from feasting on your plant. 

Planting Basil Strategically in the Garden To Ward Off Pests

Plant basil around the border of your garden to make a natural bug-repelling fence! Alternatively, plant it near specific plants that are prone to bugs that dislike basil to protect the other plants as well. A great example is using basil to prevent cabbage worms from feasting on your kale by planting them near one another.

Herbs That Repel Bugs

Many different herbs have the ability to repel bugs. Plant these perennial and annual herbs in your garden for fresh herbs and natural pest repellent! 


Aphids, carrot flies, and Japanese beetles dislike chives and other Allium members because of their strong onion scent. This perennial herb will grow season after season, always yielding a harvest and helping to defend the garden. 


This annual herb is known to repel snails and slugs because they dislike its licorice taste and aroma. Since fennel plants mature quickly, plant them in different stages consecutively to always have some growing in the garden. 


While its flowers smell like relaxation to us, the essential oils will repel moths, fleas, and mosquitoes. Plant this perennial around your garden, or harvest some,and place it around your home and patio in bundles to repel insects.


Dill’stender leaves are disliked by squash bugs, spider mites, hornworms, and cabbage lopers. This annual is most helpful planted near your tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and beans to deter their most common pests.

Lemon Balm

A favorite perennial used commonly in teas, lemon balm’s scent will deter mosquitoes and gnats. Plant it around your garden, patio, and kitchen to keep pests away. 


Sage is a perennial herb that most pests stay away from because of the leaf’s texture and essential oils. Sage smoke is used for repelling bugs naturally in environments where insecticides are not able to be used. 


The essential oils found in mint repel flies, mosquitoes, and ants because they all dislike the strong-smelling aroma. Plant mint in a pot near your garden to repel pests and to keep the mint from overtaking your entire garden!

Related Questions: 

Does Basil Repel Aphids?

Yes, basil repels aphids because they feed on the plant and do not like the essential oils found in a basil leaf. Since they dislike the taste of basil, they won’t stay around for long and become established on your basil plant. 

Does Basil Repel Mosquitoes?

Yes, basil does repel mosquitoes. They don’t like basil because of a specific essential oil called eucalyptol that mosquitoes are naturally repelled by. Planted in your garden or cut and placed in a vase, wherever you put it, pests will be deterred. 


An herb garden doesn’t only need to be for cooking but can also double as a natural pest repellent. Growing these herbs indoors can also help to deter bugs in other areas besides the garden. Place your favorite herbs in locations near plants you know are prone to specific pests, and enjoy your bounty of herbs and vegetables!