Basil Seedling Lopper

Asked July 20, 2016, 6:15 PM EDT

I started some basil indoors, and planted them in a planter and outside they went. New bag of Miracle-gro soil. Seemed to be doing great. Suddenly they were being loped off less than 1/4" above the soil and again right below the leaves. #1 gone, win some loose some ---#2 gone, called local nursery -- probably a 'wood chuck' or a 'chipmunk' -- ?? how would these critters put their mouth around a small plant head and gently bite it off, not once, but TWICE??? (I'm not stupid!!!) I took the planter inside that night, just because.. #3 gone, noticed some erose tears on a leaf AND one leaf inches away from the stem. Moved it and saw what looked like an Ant Hill 'sprouting a basil leaf!!' I know it is NOT a cut worm and probably not a leaf cutter ant from Puerto Rico!! This has not been a problem with my Nursery purchased tomatoes, basil, banana peppers, rosemary or any of my flowers. Please, please HELP!!! Carol

McLeod County Minnesota

1 Response

My first thought was a leaf cutter bee. See URL below.

However, these bees make round holes and tend not to bite off the top of a plant. Since they are in a planter, could you take it outside, replant the basil (They will regrow if they aren't cut off too close to the root.) and, camera ready, dump the container on a newspaper and look for the culprit in the soil? The critter probably found your planter and its appealing contents after you took it outside. The probability that your new planting will be infected is low. If you get a photo, please share.

Best of luck.