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How can I stop whatever is chewing my basil plants?
October 31, 2008 5:02 PM   Subscribe

My outdoor basil plants are being chewed away by something that leaves behind tiny black grains. Who is the culprit, and how can I stop it?

Whatever it is chews holes in the leaves of my basil plants, either straight through or leaving a thin clear membrane behind between the veins of the leaves. There are also tiny black dots on some of the leaves (as in, sitting on the leaves, they're not a part of the leaves or a discoloration). I have a feeling the two are connected.

Bonus points if the solution doesn't involve heavy-duty pesticides.
posted by teem to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
hornworm caterpillars. Look above the black dots to see if you can find them. They're green and hard to see at first. They also eat tomato leaves, so look at your tomatoes if you have some -- they'll be there too. You can just pick them off and destroy them. Once you find your first one, you'll start seeing more. A couple sessions of caterpillar picking and you'll have 'em all. If you let them get to the cocoon/moth phase and they lay eggs for next year they'll be back, so it's best to be thorough now.
posted by dness2 at 5:23 PM on October 31, 2008


seconding dness2, which is alomst a palindrome. The black pellets should look like 4 lobbed thingies.

There's a bacterial pesticide that works wonders and does little to anything else. Your local garden store will know all about it.
posted by OrangeDrink at 6:13 PM on October 31, 2008


It's BT. But you can easily just pick them off.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 6:24 PM on October 31, 2008


(The black dots are caterpillar poop, btw.)
posted by jamaro at 6:35 PM on October 31, 2008


Slugs and snails can do this, also. Go out at night with a flashlight--you may catch them in the act.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:45 PM on October 31, 2008


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