Basil plant being attacked!

Asked August 3, 2013, 9:28 AM EDT

I have a large container garden with 10 basil plants that have been thriving for several months until now. Today, I noticed that several of the plants have small, round, black dots on them and there are holes in many leaves. Also, one plant has been completely eaten up and has turned brown. What are these black spots and how do I get rid of them naturally, since my family eats this herb? Thanks for your help!

Outside United States fruits and vegetables insect issues herbs horticulture

1 Response

Dear Gardener,

I cannot exactly tell what insect you have from the picture you submitted. If the black spots are loose and not part of the foliage it may be caterpillar or worm castings, especially the way you describe the physical damage to the foliage. Turn the leaves over. Do you notice any worms? Look closely as they may be the same color as the leaf and mask themselves well. If you do notice caterpillars or worms you can use Bt which is an organically labeled insecticide on most edible crops. Read the label to determine the number of days after applying this pesticide that you need to wait until you can harvest... Its usually 1-3 days and referred to as PHI on the label. If you do not see any worms bring in a sample to your local county agent for identification.