What could be eating my basil seedlings?


I just planted basil seedlings in pots and something is eating them.  What could be the culprit and what can I do to prevent it?


Jonathan Foster, Special Projects Assistant

Without knowing more about the damage or seeing photos, it’s tough to diagnose accurately. But I will point you to this excellent Clemson Univ Extension fact sheet on basil. You will see that common pests include Japanese beetle (I just picked the first one of the season out of my own basil last night), slugs, and aphids. Suggestions for controlling each are listed in the Clemson resource, but first I recommend doing a bit of scouting close up on the plants during the day and after dark to see if you can identify the culprit (the damage they cause often looks similar so finding a hungry pest is the best way forward). This will make the control much easier. Japanese beetles can be hand picked or prevented from reaching the basil with mesh or row cover, slugs can be removed by hand and the basil plants moved to higher location, and aphids (as well as many other soft-bodied pests) can be removed with a good strong jet of water or an application of low-toxicity insecticidal soap.