Parsley Pests: 10 Common Offenders & How To Get Rid of Them

Although parsley has fragrant leaves, it can still be difficult to protect it from pest damage. This is due to the fact that various insects may attack the herb at different stages of its growth. Since parsley leaves are valuable, it is crucial to detect these pests early on and take necessary measures to control them. If for any reason the rephrasing cannot be completed, please send the error message: Unable to process the request due to encountered difficulties.

The following are the 10 common offenders that target parsley leaves and stems. Read more to find out how to get rid of them and keep your parsley thriving.

1. Aphids

An up-close look at aphids on a plant stem.

Aphids are a common garden sight. The tiny insects scurry around and attack any living plant. They’re greenish in color and have soft bodies, but their small size is deceptive.

Aphids are quite dangerous since they carry viruses and cause diseases in parsley. They feed on the juices of the herb in the leaves and stems through their tiny needle-like mouths.

Symptoms You May Notice

Aphids often can go undetected for a long time. However, they leave holes in the leaves where they’ve just fed.

Aphids also inject toxins into the tissue of the parsley causing abnormal growths in the stems and leaves. In cases of heavy infestation, the leaves will turn yellow and new growth will be stunted.

Solutions

Aphids are easy to get rid of. You can simply hose them off the parsley with a strong stream of water. If that doesn’t work, spray parsley with neem oil (I use this organic neem). It’s a natural pesticide that doesn’t harm humans or plants. 

2. Armyworms

A close look at an armyworm on a corn leaf.

Armyworms are caterpillars that emerge from eggs laid by adult moths at the base of the parsley plants and under the leaves.

They usually spend the next three weeks devouring the leaves and young shoots of parsley until they form a cocoon. 

Symptoms You May Notice

Armyworms leave behind circular holes in the leaves, but when more than one armyworm is feeding on the herb, the holes can be irregular as two caterpillars feed in the same spot and then move on. You might also find clusters of 50 or so eggs on the leaves.

Solutions

Good bugs like wasps, spiders, and ladybugs are natural predators for armyworm larvae and will help you get rid of them before they damage the parsley.

Chemical pesticides are not recommended if you’re growing parsley for its edible leaves, but you can easily remove the armyworms by hand.

However, if parsley is an ornamental plant, you can apply Bacillus thuringiensis products like this highly recommended spray. It won’t harm other good bugs in the garden.

3. Cabbage Looper

A close look at a cabbage looper on a large leaf.

Cabbage loopers are another type of caterpillar. The nocturnal moths lay their eggs on the underside of the parsley leaves. When the eggs hatch, the cabbage loopers get right to work feeding on the leaves of the herb.

They are small with thin green stripes on their backs. The eggs themselves are greenish-white, and you should remove them before they hatch.

Symptoms You May Notice

Cabbage loopers have between 2 and 4 weeks of feeding before they weave their cocoons on the stems of the parsley leaves. During those weeks, they inflict damage on the leaves and stems of the parsley.

Even though their impact on the harvest is less harmful than armyworms, cabbage loopers should be dealt with as soon as you see the holes in the leaves.

Solutions

The best solution to get rid of cabbage loopers is a mechanical one. Look for the clusters of greenish eggs on the underside of the parsley leaves and remove the infected leaves altogether. Neem oil spray can be effective against larvae. 

4. Carrot Root Flies

Larvae of carrot root fly on a freshly harvested carrot.

Carrot root flies are pests that target carrots, but if you pair carrots with parsley, the bugs will jump on the herb easily and damage the herb. The flies lay their eggs on the soil near the base of the carrots or parsley.

When the eggs hatch, small white worms less than one-third of an inch long burrow into the soil and feed on the roots. They cause stunted parsley, and sometimes the plant will die. 

Symptoms You May Notice

The first sign you’ll notice is that the infected parsley is not growing well. It will have stunted growth, small leaves, and short stems. The leaves will then turn yellow.

No matter how much you feed the plant, the eroding roots can’t absorb enough nutrients to keep the plant growing. 

Solutions

To get rid of carrot root flies, mix hydrogen peroxide in water at a ratio of 1:3. Pour the liquid into the soil around the base of the parsley. It will break down into hydrogen and oxygen and kill the worms hiding in the soil without harming the roots of the parsley.

5. Cutworms

An up-close look at a cutworm crawling on top of the soil.

Cutworms that affect parsley have two varieties. The first is black cutworms that hatch from eggs laid by black moths. The other variety is granulate cutworms. They are usually white but turn black as they age.

Both types of worms are dangerous for parsley. They emerge in the spring around the same time parsley leaves start growing. 

Symptoms You May Notice

The small larvae will usually feed on the leaves. However, they are quite greedy and will chew large portions of the leaves at a time.

Large larvae will go a step further and break the stems of the parsley and bury them in the soil. Both the chewed leaves and broken stems are good indications of a cutworm infestation.

Solutions

To get rid of cutworms, encourage their natural enemies to visit the garden. Wasps feed on all types of cutworm larvae whether small or big. Flies are another good insect to invite to the garden to fight off a cutworm infestation.

Remove any cutworms that you find by hand, and try sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the plants.

6. Leafminers

A close look at the damage to a leaf caused by leafminers.

Leafminers are the larvae of various species of insects that include sawflies, wasps, flies, moths, and some beetles.

As the name implies, leafminers will burrow tunnels in the tissue of the leaves of parsley and leave their droppings inside of the leaf and sometimes on the surface as well. A large infestation can damage the whole plant and render it useless for human consumption. 

Symptoms You May Notice

The dark droppings of the leafminers are your first clue. If you look closely around the droppings, you might notice the little tunnels that larvae have created in the leaves.

The damaged leaves will turn yellow and wilt. Eventually, the rest of the leaves will follow as the leafminers jump from one leaf to the next in the same plant.

Solutions

Leafminers are hard to get rid of. You can’t spray them with pesticides because they’re deep inside the tissue of the leaves.

Aside from using neem oil spray, the best way to minimize the damage to the parsley is to uproot the infected plants and dispose of them safely. If the whole patch is infected, then uproot it, and start a fresh patch somewhere else.

7. Parsley Worms

A black swallowtail butterfly caterpillar feeding on a stem of dill.

Parsley worms are caterpillars that favor parsley and only feed on the leaves of this herb. Female swallowtail butterflies often lay their eggs on the underside of the parsley leaves. When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars start feeding on the leaves of the herb.

They’re about 2 inches long with yellow dots and black stripes on their back. Worms this big are hard to miss.

Symptoms You May Notice

Parsley worms chew the leaves of the parsley. The holes they leave in their wake are the first sign that you have an infestation. Stunted growth and yellowing leaves are also signs of infestation.

Solutions

Manually pick the worms, and drown them in a bucket full of soapy water. You might also want to get rid of the chewed leaves since they’re not edible anymore.

Just keep in mind that if left alone, they will soon turn into beautiful butterflies, so it may be worth sacrificing a few leaves.

8. Root Knot Nematodes

Harmful nematodes are not welcome pests in any garden. Root knot nematodes are a species of nematodes that live in the soil and infect the roots of the parsley. Their damage is extensive and can go undetected for a long time.

Symptoms You May Notice

Root knot nematodes cause galls to grow on the roots of the parsley. The galls are usually 1 inch in diameter.

They divert the nutrients and moisture the roots absorb and prevent them from reaching the plant. As a result, the parsley will experience stunted growth, and the leaves will turn yellow. 

Solutions

Solarize the soil before planting parsley to kill the pests. If you notice that the parsley is stunted, dig up the soil and examine the roots. Get rid of any infected plants before they infect others. If you’re using potted soil, bleach the pots, and replace the soil.

9. Spider Mites

An up-close look at a spider mite infestation on a tomato plant.

Spider mites are arachnids that live in colonies. They build their colonies on the underside of the parsley leaves. They are sometimes too small to notice with the naked eye.

Much like aphids, they suck the fluids in the leaves and stems and cause the leaves to turn yellow.

Symptoms You May Notice

First, you’ll see pale dots on the leaves of the parsley. Then the leaves themselves become yellow and wilt. With a severe infestation, you’ll eventually notice fine, delicate webbing appearing around the leaves.

Solutions

Remove the damaged leaves, and blast the spider mites off the parsley with a strong stream of water.

10. Wireworms

A single wireworm resting on the soil.

Click beetles lay their eggs in the soil, and the larvae are called wireworms. They are long and slender with white or orange shades. They spend this stage of their lives in the soil attacking the roots of the parsley.

Symptoms You May Notice

Damage to the parsley roots is reflected on the foliage. The leaves become yellow, and the plant will become stunted. The young leaves will stop growing and dry out.

Solutions

Apply dichloropropene to the soil before planting parsley. Till the soil, and leave it exposed to birds like cattle egrets to feed on wireworms.

Conclusion

Pests that attack parsley are quite numerous. Check the herb regularly for holes in the leaves or droppings on the stem that indicate a pest infestation, and begin eradication measures as soon as possible.