Basil (Ocimum basilicum) produces aromatic foliage that is ideal for a wide variety of culinary uses, but the plant is susceptible to a few common pests. If you notice little red bugs on your basil plants, they’re most likely red spider mites or aphids. Protect basil plants and control any current infestations with a variety of tactics that have little to no toxic effects on the environment. These methods work best on healthy plants with no drought distress. Basil grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11.
Spray the plants with a stream of water from a garden hose, including the undersides of leaves, to wash away the insects. Do this as often as needed when watering the plants. Spraying with water also washes away honeydew that the aphids leave behind.
Spray the plants thoroughly with insecticidal soap or a 1 to 2 percent solution of neem oil once a week to kill any existing aphids or spider mites. Cover all parts of the plant, including the undersides of leaves. Stop spraying once the pests are gone. Insecticidal soap also kills eggs, which prevents new insects from hatching and infesting the plants.
Prune off any infested and damaged leaves with scissors or pinch them off with your fingernails. Dispose of any extremely infested or damaged plants nearby to prevent another infestation. Sanitize scissors by wiping with rubbing alcohol.
Place ladybugs in and around the plants to kill the aphids and spider mites.
Things You Will Need
- Garden hose
- Insecticidal soap
- Neem oil
- Don’t apply neem oil when the plants are wet or when rain is expected that day.
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