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What’s eating my basil?

 

A few days ago I went outside to find my beautiful, perfect basil was being eaten. Whatever it was did quite a bit of damage in one night.

I checked all the leaves for hornworms (caterpillars), aphids, etc. but found nothing. Every day i checked my basil to find more damage but no signs of what could be causing the damage.

This morning I went out to find my basil plant in worse shape then yesterday and was contemplating pulling it out of the herb garden. I shook the little plant and a little green caterpillar fell off…it was a BABY HORNWORM! Normally these suckers are huge (4 inches long) and fat but this little guy was about 1/4 of an inch long and quite thin still.

 
 
 

5 Comments

  1. Christine says:

    Wow, I didn't know these suckers were a threat so early in the season! I would have suspected snail or slug damage since you didn't see anything by the light of day. Did you wind up losing this plant? Have you seen any other hornworms since?

  2. tammysf says:

    Christine, no, luckily i didn't lose the plant…basil are such vigorous growers and i caught the little bugger when it was still small, then sprayed with BT to make sure I got any other worms that were hiding. We have had a really warm spring so who knows why he showed up when he did.

    Some other gardeners in northern california are reporting alot of hornworm activity now so I am going to check my tomato plants twice a day to make sure they are ok.

  3. G says:

    Arghh. I just had the same experience down in Socal. It looks like the same type of worm/caterpillar and I had at least 15-20 of them on the plant! And they weren't visible from one side of it– you had to go around the back, those buggers!

  4. tammysf says:

    hi g, yes they are usually hiding on the underside of the leaves/ a good way to find them is if you see holes in your leaves, flip the leaf over and usually their is a worm (caterpillar)…also look for black frass (poop) below the leaf.

    I pick off the leaves with holes that I have checked so I can easily look for any new damage.

    if you have a huge infestation, try spraying with BT. once i spray, i have not found anymore caterpillars on the plant and BT is not harmful to the beneficial bugs.

  5. celia says:

    What is BT please? Where to get it? Thanks!! Need to know what to spray and what is safe – after all this is food.

 
 

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