Perfect basil leaves can be a feast for the eyes and nose, but if you notice some pests or damage, it can be heartbreaking! Whether the entire plant or just some of its leaves seem to have been eaten by a pest, you may reach for a bottle of Sevin dust. Instead, try one of the safer alternatives listed below that is sure to do the job.
Can you use Sevin dust on basil? While it is recommended for use on vegetables, fruits, lawns, and ornamentals, Sevin dust should not be directly applied to a basil plant. Basil is a tender herb that will not take well to this synthetic chemical pesticide, and it is very difficult to completely remove the residue before consuming.
You’ll most likely need to use some insecticide during the growing season, and odds are one of the options below is better than Sevin dust. Read on to find ways to keep your basil from being damaged by insects while not using something that may be harmful to you or the plant.
Why You Should Not Use Sevin Dust on Basil
The benefits of using Sevin dust on your basil are outweighed by the negatives because it may harm or kill the plant, it isn’t labeled for use on basil, and it will kill nearby pollinators.
1. Not Labeled for Safe Use on Basil or Other Herbs
Even though Sevin dust is labeled safe to use on vegetables, it is not labeled for use on herbs. Basil and other herbs are usually prepared fresh and may still have Sevin dust residue on the leaves even after rinsing them thoroughly.
2. May Harm or Kill Plant
Basil leaves are very tender and can be easily damaged. If Sevin dust remains on the leaf surface, its chemical nature may hurt the cell structure of the plant, leading to death if the damage is extensive.
3. Will Kill Nearby Pollinators
Sevin dust is meant to kill bugs, but unfortunately, it can not determine which insects are beneficial to the world and which are hurtful. The lack of vital pollinators may reduce your garden yields, and it may also lead to further the effects of pollinator population decline.
How To Keep Bugs From Eating Basil
There are plenty of safer ways to protect your basil plants and the other edible varieties you are growing. Some don’t require the use of any insecticide, and many are even organic! Most are easy to use and you may already have all of the materials at home. In the following, you’ll see the ways you can stop pests from ever having a meal in your garden.
Remove Pests By Hand
Many times it is only a small number of caterpillars, grasshoppers, beetles, etc. that are feasting on your plants. If you examine the areas that have been eaten, you will most likely find a critter nearby. Simply remove it from the plant, and the symptoms you’ve been noticing should begin to subside.
Use Floating Row Covers
This thin mesh netting keeps insects from laying larvae or from being enticed to have a meal. Make sure you allow for space between the plant and the material so it doesn’t lie directly on the leaves with the plant supporting it.
Blast With Hose
If you can’t specifically identify the bugs and remove them by hand, use a hose to spray the plant with pressurized water. Begin with low pressure to ensure you don’t bruise or damage the plant, and then slowly increase the pressure until the pest has been removed.
Soapy Water Spray
Naturally formulated soaps make a great insecticide! Simply dilute your soap (1 tablespoon of soap to 1 quart of water), and spray the plant, ensuring you cover the pest thoroughly. This will cause irritation to the pest and kill them on contact in most cases.
Made of soil-dwelling bacteria, this type of pest prevention works by use of two naturally occurring spinosad type bacterium: spinosyn A and spinosyn D. Found in various forms like spray, powder, pellets, etc., some variations are approved for organic gardening.
These work similarly to a soapy water spray in that they are able to coat the leaf and bugs in a substance that makes pests uncomfortable and will eventually be fatal with enough exposure. It is composed of fatty acids and potassium salts with most versions being available in an organic form.
This white powdery substance resembles a fine baking flour, but it is actually made up of ground plankton diatoms. The dust is so fine and sharp to soft-bodied pests that it will damage their epidermal layer and kill them.
As a naturally occurring oil, neem is Mother Nature’s natural insecticide! It is found in organic concentrates or ready-to-use sprays and creates an extremely unfavorable environment for pests that will cause them to die when directly coated with it.
What Is Eating My Basil at Night?
If you notice that your basil seems to disappear at night, you most likely have a slug or snail problem. They are most active at night and will leave a translucent slime wherever they go. A sprinkling of diatomaceous earth should stop them from advancing to your basil.
What Is Eating My Basil and Leaving Poop?
Sometimes you’ll notice small black or brown pellets of poop near or on the damaged leaves. This is a clear sign of a caterpillar in the area! Check the underside of the leaves near the caterpillar poop; they usually aren’t far away. Removing it from the plant should take care of the issue, but it is always good to spray B.T. (Bacillus thuringensis) regularly to prevent them from ever taking a bite!
It is almost impossible to garden without insecticides, but when it comes to basil, it is important to ensure you don’t use Sevin dust. Begin by trying to remove the pest by hand, and if that doesn’t work, one of the other solutions in this article is sure to keep your basil thriving!