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Something is eating my Basil

May 30, 2005

This was hapenning in my previous garden. I would bring home plants of Basil, plant them and in few days they would be gone...eaten all the way to the ground. I could never grow Basil there. I even spread the egg shels around...still the same. Basil was gone.

I moved (not because of Basil). Last week I bought Basil plants and planted them. In the morning I found that one small group of them is gone. Last night I went out with flash light at midnight and then again at 5 a.m. to see if there is anything there. Nothing.

What could it be? What can I do?

Comments (18)

  • Pink_Petunia

    I'd like to hear someone's reason for this too.

  • booberry85

    Snails love my basil plants. I'll have to try some beer traps. I bet bunnies would love basil too!

  • magan

    No bunnies here (only cats). I am patrolling my basil (night and day) but cannot see any slugs. I read somewhere that circle of coffee grinds around each plant could help to keep slugs away. It is after 3 a.m. and I am still wired after drinking all that coffee. Coffee grind rings are there and I am waiting to see if it works. I let you know if there is any more damage.

  • sharon_sd

    At my place it would be sheep. We keep fixing the fencens and they keep finding new ways out.

    Your problem may be cutworms. They work at night. Try placing a collar around your plants. It should extend and inch into the ground and a couple of inches above and completely circle the plant. A ring of cardboard will do it.

  • clairabelle

    I thought cutworms just cut the plant off at ground-level. It appears that magan's culprits EAT the plants down to the ground.

    My suggestion: plant basil in clay pots on your patio like I do. End of problem! lol

  • magan

    Just update on my Basil. When checking at night, I have seen a few flat gray oval bugs crowling over coffee grinds. I have seen those bugs before close to cement wall. Don't know their name.

    However, I gave up, dig out my basil and moved it elsewhere. It was fine for about week till these basil eating creatures arrived. I quess they were relocating too, but their leggs were shorter. I am really fed up. I LOVE basil and can never grow it.

    This weekend I will follow previous posters suggestion and move them into pot by my door. Hope it works. Thanks for your advice.

  • shapiro

    Flat oval bugs near cement walls sound like sow bugs. I've never seen them eat anything. We used to call them "basement bugs" when I was small! I would bet your problem IS cutworms. Try this - wrap the stem of your basil plant with a piece of aluminum foil, about 3 inches up the stem. We do this to all our vegetable garden transplants: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc. I hate cutworms! When I find one, it gives me great pleasure to deposit it on a lily pad in our small pond - the frogs gulp them down very satisfactorily!

  • october17

    I found out this past summer that japanese beetles love basil. Dang those things!

  • jroot

    Right about now, I'd be eating your fresh basil. Oh, how I miss the plantings on the deck off the kitchen.

    Have a great Christmas holiday, and try not to dream of your favourite dish of wilted fresh basil mixed with baby spinach, crisp bacon, and 18% cream. Hmmmmm. I can hardly wait.

  • Esther1938


    I just noticed a Japanese beetle and spider on my clay pot of basil on the shelf of our deck rail. Sprayed it with insect soap immediately. will check it again later to see if they return. This was seen around 11am.

  • diane_v_44

    I have basil growing in pots, black plastic sort of window box things With legs Nice looking containers Large containers and long

    In the pots, two of them I have various types of basil, Rosemary, Lavender, and something else I forget what it is
    Right near my kitchen door so I can just cut off what I need and when

    One type of the basil, of course my favourite kind, gets holes in the leaves and I have figured out , and seen what it is
    Even though in pots and not overwatered.

    It is Earwigs. Have even seen one , no two, times when I have cut some leaves for adding to whatever.

    I do put coffee grounds in both of the pots and egg shells

    What I have taken to doing, and I know this sounds, a bit yuk
    is just washing off the leaves I want to use and chopping them up

    I figure, that commercially that is what would happen so this year I have been doing this

    Main thing is to be sure not to have any bugs in what I use and wind up chopping them up into my salad.
    That for sure would be YUK
    I do have lots of basil though and am thinking to maybe plant some seeds and have myself another crop before the big freeze Never can have to much basil that is for sure.

  • Marco Maria

    I had this exact same problem and wish I could figure it out as well. First happened last year. The basil was planted in a container on a stand on the patio. Several plants. At first I noticed an entire stem cut of at ground level gone. Then over time the entire plant, gone. this year, I just planted them in the ground, transplant from HD, in my vegetable garden with the tomatos. I went out there yesterday, one entire plant, several actually, gone. I know cut worms, I know other bugs, How does a small bug take an entire plant away? Woody stem and all? It's got to be some sort of large animal. Short of putting a motion activated camera up, I have no clue and hate this. It is costing me money.

  • gailevans

    Gophers will drag plants all the way underground. I have to put wire mesh underneath every one of my beds to keep my tomatoes and peppers from disappearing. And it's always at night.

  • Kasa Wahl

    Marco, I have the same issue. I came out this morning and they were just....gone. Eaten all the way to the stub in the ground. But nothing else around the six basil plants got touched. The rosemary, oregano, thyme, garlic and winter onions were all perfectly fine. JUST my six basil plants were completely gone. Eaten all the way to the ground. And we have a fenced in yard and are surrounded by other houses. I just have no idea what would take just the basil plants and thats it. So weird.

  • Marco Maria

    Crazy - I've grown basil for years - never have seen anything like it - these were in the ground, in my vegetable garden with my tomatoes - a couple years ago the same thing happened to some plants in pots on my patio - weird is right - oh well - maybe need to install a motion sensitive webcam?

  • Kasa Wahl

    Me too and they were fine. Darn chipmunks liked to dig up my bean plants, but they always left a huge mess in their wake. This was completely different. The ground was completely undisturbed. No paw prints or anything. Plants just gone. Maybe webcam is a good idea!

  • rredbbeard

    I'm a big advocate of using a rotten egg mixture around plants to fend off warm-blooded animals. I've written about it here before if you search a few key words. If pieces of paper towel with a bit of mixture are positioned around the plants and they still disappear, it's not an animal. This stuff will even fend off deer, or my favorite, FTR's (F'ng tree rats, aka squirrels). I'm told that some of the new cell phones have time-lapse photography potential. Maybe the culprits can be caught in the act this way?

    --Rick in CT

  • dsandds2003

    I have an empty tin can buried in the ground. I keep it half full of beer. The slugs LOVE a good drunk and drown in the beer.

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