This Basil-Eating Bug Must Be Defeated!
July 27, 2016 11:01 AM   Subscribe

A bunch of shameless ravenous basil eaters have invaded our plants and are eating all the leaves. Help us to identify and stop them!

One of the horrible Eaters of The Basil.

A crappy close up of the ravenous monster. Sorry about the less than optimal quality... it was taken at night when they seem to come out of hiding.

Help us save our delicious basil from this menace! Thank you!
posted by Hairy Lobster to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Insecticidal Soap (you can make your own, if you're into that - usually it's 1 tablespoon Epsom salts per gallon, plus a squeeze of Dawn) will likely do the trick.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:04 AM on July 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's almost certainly a sort of weevil. There are lots of different types, and I'm not really certain of that particular one. This however, looks pretty close. Some more pictures down the page here (scroll down to the "Snout Beetles")
posted by bonehead at 11:28 AM on July 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I totally forgot to add location info: this is in Los Angeles
posted by Hairy Lobster at 11:32 AM on July 27, 2016

Also, while it is possible it's the bug you saw, I have had an extraordinary number of Japanese Beetles (giant, pretty, stupid as hell) bouncing off my forehead and doors and garden out here in the valley, and they love basil and I've had a good bit of chewed leaves, but it *seems* to have settled down since I started using the soap.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:50 AM on July 27, 2016

It looks like a Japanese Beetle to me (especially if the flash is desaturating the colours of the beastie itself).

They are apparently particularly bad in Minnesota this year -- I don't know how true/widespread that is.

Anyways, apparently the best remedy for invasion on a home garden scale is sadly to hunt them down, pick them off, and drop them in soapy water (I don't think it needs to be special soap).

Diatomaceous earth seems to be effective as well, but caveats apply regarding small humans/beloved animals that might disturb the earth and kick up DE dust.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:16 PM on July 27, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks for all the input so far. I'll try to get a better picture with some additional light source other than the flash.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 12:32 PM on July 27, 2016

It's the antenna shape and the snout on the head that says weevil to me.

Japanese beetles tend to have straight antenna that end in a sort of rounded club-like shape and no head extension. The weevils have a characteristic "snout" on their head and some types have that "elbowed" antenna shape.

Japanese beetles tend to be bigger (say 1/2 inch) and have iridescence on their wing cases, the backs. The weevils are smaller, say a 1/4 inch and are less colourful.
posted by bonehead at 12:39 PM on July 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

That's a Japanese Beetle
posted by BWA at 2:08 PM on July 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

It looks like some sort of chafer to me (they don't just feed on roses), but regardless of the exact species, the advice is typically to hand-pick them off in early morning or early evening when they're sluggish.

You can spray with insecticidal soap or neem oil, but best to do that in the early evening so that you don't cause the leave to scorch. Even so, basil leaves are less sturdy than a lot of other herbs and don't take as well to spraying.
posted by desuetude at 7:26 PM on July 27, 2016

Captain Jack's Deadbug is widely available, completely harmless to people eating the basil, and combats a huge swath of insects. I've used it on my basil here in San Diego, starting with an infestation last year and now using it as a general preventative. It's helped a lot.
posted by Foam Pants at 8:11 PM on July 28, 2016

Response by poster: After doing some more checking of bugs and pictures of bugs we're now fairly certain it's weevils. Thanks for the tips and answers!
posted by Hairy Lobster at 5:14 PM on July 29, 2016

« Older Who has been voted for the most?   |   Work appropriate plus-size nursing dresses and... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.