Basil is often planted to repel insects like mosquitoes and tomato hornworms (when planted around tomato plants). I generalized from this that no pests will eat basil – or any other herb.
BUT – it turns out that there are pests that EAT basil as well. WHAT!? Not cool.
Though basil and other herbs are more resistant to pests than other leafy greens like the lettuces, if it’s edible, some pest will eat it.
I found this out when my basil plant in my kitchen was dropping tiny grains of what looked like finely ground coffee on my island counter top. After a few days, I realized it was poop – someTHING was eating holes in my beautiful deep green basil leaves.
Outside, I took a good look at each stalk, each leaf. It took several turns before the perfectly camouflaged worm could be seen.
Doing some research, I found that there are more pests that will eat basil, including Japanese beetles, slugs, snails, aphids, mites and whiteflies. WHAT!?
I’ve grown basil for about 20 years, but have never noticed significant losses from bugs eating it before. Rich soil with good nutrients makes a huge difference. Basil grows quickly in good soil, so it will be difficult to see the damage – especially if you’re harvesting it on a regular basis.
If you DO find pests on your basil, spread diatomaceous earth at the base of your plants to deter slugs and snails. Because I eat the leaves of basil and like bees, I prefer NOT to use a foliar spray like neem oil, but to hand-pick pests off the leaves.
Gardening is a classroom with new lessons every day.