Seeing some tiny bugs all over your basil plants?
It seems like aphids are always lurking around, but you rarely notice them. Once you see one, you see tons of them multiply seemingly out of nowhere!
Unfortunately, basil leaves are a common target for aphids. These sap-sucking insects can cause serious damage to the basil plant, and often lead to reduced yields or even loss of the crop.
While you might think that a basil plant indoors would be safe from bugs like this, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Let’s learn to find aphids before they cause tons of damage, and put in aphid control methods so we have healthy basil plants this season.
What are Aphids?
Aphids are small insects that feed on the sap of plants. They can be found on a wide variety of other plants, including tomatoes, peppers, and other herbs…even sunflowers aren’t safe!
If you find them in your garden, its best to get rid of them as quickly as you can because they multiply FAST.
Aphid Infestation & Basil Plant Damage
Aphids are not something you want to find on your plants because of two reasons:
- They can transmit different plant diseases, carrying it from one plant to another.
- They feed on the sap in leaves, which can stress out the plants enough to stunt growth.
They suck the sap and can cause black or brown spots or yellowing of the basil leaves too.
They can also transmit plant viruses like fusarium wilt and basil mosaic virus.
How to Get Rid of Aphids on Basil Leaves
Since they are one of the most common basil pests lets talk about how we can get rid of and start controlling aphids in the garden.
1. Kill Them With Your Hand
This is the most straightforward method if you catch an aphid infestation early.
If you only see a few aphids here and there, it’s best to just squash and remove the dead aphids. Since these soft-bodied insects and adult aphids reproduce really fast (in as little time), if we take the effort of going out in search for remedy treatment at grocery store – plus coming back later on next day- then by all means count your blessings because colony might have doubled!
Aphids won’t bite you, so you can just squash them between your fingertips right on the leaves.
2. Spraying Aphids Off Your Plants
As the infestation gets to be more severe, you’re going to want to take more extreme measures. Luckily, you can spray them off the plant with a strong stream of water from a hose or watering wand.
If the plant is young and has delicate basil leaves that won’t be able to handle a strong spray, you can dip the entire leaf into a jar of room temperature water to remove the aphids.
3. Natural Sprays & Neem Oil
Natural sprays can help kill aphids and reduce the reoccurrence of aphid infestations for a little while.
Neem oil is one of my favorite aphid killing methods because it works quite well on many insects, aphids being one of them. It comes from the neem tree, and is organic and deemed safe for herbs and vegetables to consume.
Pure neem oil is an excellent way to help stop the aphid damage can do. It removes their ability feed and eventually kill them off, giving your plants plenty of time for recovery!
100% cold-pressed neem oil that can be used as a foliar spray for healthy garden plants. Free of water and other additives.
4. Insecticidal Soap
You can purchase insecticidal soaps like this one that will help with getting rid of aphid colonies.
You can also make your own DIY soap with a few ingredients:
- Dish soap (natural, free of perfumes)
- Vegetable oil
- Spray bottle
Make sure you’re using a dish soap that doesn’t contain a lot of harmful chemicals – we are spraying this on your plants that you’ll eventually eat and those additives can also impact plant growth.
Add 1 teaspoon of soap and 1 teaspoon of oil, to a half gallon of water and spray on the plants. Since most aphids are found on the bottom side of the basil plant leaves, start by spraying there.
The soapy water will suffocate the aphids and they will eventually fall off the plant.
5. Introduce Natural Predators & Beneficial Insects
You can attract the bugs and predators that feed on aphids. This method is quite natural, but it may not be as effective than using other methods like pesticides or insecticidal soap.
Natural predators to aphids include:
- Lady bugs/lady beetles
- Damsel bugs
- Small parasitic wasps
- Syrphid fly larva
Ladybugs eat aphids in their natural environment, and you can either buy huge colonies of these insects (yes, you can get them on Amazon!), or plant flowering plants that attract them to the area – see companion planting below.
Deter Aphids and Prevent the Damage
Basil needs lots of air flow to thrive so be sure not crowd the plant with too many leaves. If you overlap them, garden pests like aphids will have an easy time moving between plants because there isn’t any space blocking their way!
Proper Spacing and Pruning of Your Basil Plants
Making sure you are spacing your basil plants properly is super important.
If you plant basil too close together, you are going to reduce the amount of air flow that can pass between plants. You’re also overcrowding the plants enough that aphid populations (and other pests) can move from one to the next very easily.
Proper pruning of the basil plant is also essential for getting rid of excess branches and infected leaves that might be wilting or riddled with fungus.
Companion planting is the practice of growing two or more plants together in order to help one another.
There are many benefits to companion planting, including reduced need for pesticides and increased yields from your garden. Some plants can help protect other crops from fungal diseases or produce chemicals that repel pests or attract beneficial aphid predators and parasites.
Some great basil companion plants are:
These companions can help improve the health and growth of basil plants, by repelling pests like aphids and helping to prevent fungal diseases.
Attract Lady Bugs
Making your garden a nice hope for lady bugs is a great way to prevent large aphid infestations.
Lady bugs are attracted to quite a few plants in the garden, including:
No wonder seeing ladybugs around is considered so lucky!
Row covers can come in handy when trying to control aphids if you typically get large infestations in outdoor growing season. This isn’t a perfect method but can help repel aphids by making it extremely hard for them to reach your plants.
Row covers can also be used to protect from as shade cloth to protect plants from the heat and cold.
Check Plants Regularly
I like to check my plants every few days for signs of aphids. You can check the entire plant every morning when watering, or at least every few days.
This is super easy if you grow plants indoors and have quick access to it.
Aphids on Basil Plants
I love to eat basil on pizza and in pastas, but watching out for some of the most common basil pests like aphids and spider mites is critical to a healthy plant.
Do you have any other methods you’ve used to keep them from taking over your plants? Let me know in the comments!