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Basil is widespread as a plant and culinary herb and is liked by some pests as well as by humans. If the leaves of the basil are eaten, this is a clear indication of certain pests. Even some animals do not stop at Ocimum basilicum. In order to then get rid of the uninvited guests and/or protect the basil from them, the "culprit" must be identified in advance.

eaten basil

If you discover signs of eating on the leaves of the aromatic basil, you are probably wondering who is behind it. There are various candidates who are responsible for this.


If the leaves are eaten by the basil, then in most cases snails (Gastropoda) have tampered with it. From their winter quarters, they sneak onto the plants in early spring when the temperatures are above the frost line. As a rule, they only begin to eat in the evening hours and especially at night.


  • Elongated head with two antennae
  • With snail shell: Body rolls in when threatened or in sleep mode
  • Without a snail shell: body curls up in danger or in sleep mode
  • between different black as well as brown, brown-yellowish and orange tones
  • Move in waves
  • Leaving slimy tracks
  • between 2.5 centimeters and 15 centimeters (Large slug (Arion ater))

damage picture

  • Basil leaves eaten from the edge inwards
  • Often holes in the middle of the sheet
  • Rapid defoliation
  • Traces of slime on the plant and possibly the soil


They are almost attracted to basil and feel particularly at home in herb beds because they find an ideal source of food here, which is the only reason for the Ocimum basilicum to eat. They are particularly eager to eat at night temperatures of around 20 °C and high humidity.


There are various methods to choose from to combat snails, but not all of them are effective or even effective:

  • At lower temperatures, collect frozen snails early in the morning
  • Set up a snail fence as a barrier (also available as an electric fence)
  • Set up beer traps
  • Place sawdust a few inches high around the plant
  • Scatter the dried coffee grounds around the basil
  • Fragrant plants as neighbors, such as lavender or gypsophila
  • Only if nothing else helps, resort to chemical poison traps

Mean catchy tune

The common earwig (Forficula auricularia) is one of the flying insects and is often found on basil plants from the supermarket. He is a omnivore and leaves traces of feeding on all parts of the basil plant, from the leaves to the flowers to the stems. If you don't stop him, he will eat the entire plant, but it will take a long time to do so. He is crepuscular.


  • Six Legs
  • Body length: ten to sixteen millimeters
  • Body color: dark reddish brown, lateral thorax light brown
  • Short stub wings
  • 15-part antennae
  • Two pincers on the abdomen
  • Light yellow-rough legs
  • One or two small teeth on the inside of the abdominal appendages

damage picture

  • Traces of feeding first on the leaves, then on the flowers, later on the stems
  • Relatively small but numerous traces of feeding
  • process quite slowly
  • Leaves lose stability
  • Partially eaten roots, which subsequently look like they have been hollowed out
  • Usually not a life-threatening situation for the plant

root cause

As a rule, earwigs only appear near where aphids located on which they mainly feed. If the number of aphids decreases, the earwigs migrate to neighboring plants and eat the greenery and flowers there.


Control of earwigs, or earwigs, as they are also known, does not necessarily require the help of chemical insecticides. Biological products and home remedies as well as tricks for relocating are more environmentally friendly. The latter is a smart solution, since earwigs are also beneficial insects.

  • Edge the basil with sticky rings of glue
  • Spray affected plant with neem oil two to three times a week (repels them)
  • Use/attract natural predators such as shrews, spiders and toads
  • Relocate using a pot
    • Fill the clay pot with straw or wood shavings
    • Place next to the basil (tilted to make it easier for earwigs to get in)
    • The next day, pour out the pot with earwigs in a different place
    • Repeat the process as often as necessary

vine weevil

The vine weevil (Otiorhynchus) is one of the most feared garden and herb pests and is not deterred by the smell of basil. It is very active, especially during warm summer days, and remains so until the temperatures drop in autumn. If it finds its way to warmer areas, such as a conservatory, it can do without hibernation and continue its “mischief” there. It is active at dusk and at night. During the day he then hides where it is dark - like under the basil pot.

ridged weevil


  • Looks like a beetle
  • Six Legs
  • Two antennae and between them a thick proboscis
  • Body color: glossy black/dark brown
  • Body length: about one centimeter
  • Oval body shape
  • Pale yellow scale hairs and longitudinal grooves on the back
  • Don't fly, but run fast
  • Larvae creamy white, hatch between August and October

damage picture

  • Semi-circular feeding marks on leaf edges
  • Brown coating at feeding sites
  • Larvae gnaw roots, plant hangs
  • Flowers wither, buds remain closed or fall off
  • Larvae debark roots
  • Roots hollowed out in the advanced stage
  • Plant is rapidly declining in vitality
  • Without specific help, the plant dies

root cause

His favorite foods include leaves, buds and young shoots. Always hungry, he goes in search of his favorite foods, including basil. In addition, the females need a place where they can safely lay their eggs. If there is still peaty soil, the best conditions for vine weevils are created.


If no eggs are laid, so that only a few pine weevils are present, in most cases the plant does not suffer any serious damage and control is not absolutely necessary. However, since they often hibernate in the root area and the females can lay up to 1000 eggs, the risk of an "invasion" and the associated total damage to the plant should always be avoided by combating it.


A small, dark animal is hardly recognizable at night, so collecting it is hardly possible. A container filled with wood wool, which is placed directly on the Ocimum basilicum, offers help. The procedure is as follows:

  • Fill the pot with wood shavings
  • Place upside down on newspaper or similar (right next to the basil)
  • Raise the edge of the pot in the direction of the plants with one or two pebbles so that pests can enter
  • Pests will use this as a roost/hiding place during the day
  • In the morning, lift/turn over the newspaper with the pot and dispose of the beetle
  • Repeat several times, because not all bugs stay there right away
  • Best time to collect: between May and August

tip: However, the beetles should never be discarded in the compost or elsewhere to prevent the pests from getting back onto plants. It should therefore always be disposed of with household waste.

home remedies

The appetite for the leaves and flowers can be taken away if a soft soap solution is applied. This does not harm the basil, but drives vine weevils to flee. This is how it's done:

  • Dissolve 150 to 300 grams of soft soap in 10 liters of hot water
  • Let cool down
  • Pour into a spray container
  • Spray the plant two to three times a week
  • Carry out for a few weeks depending on the extent of the infestation
  • Also helps with prevention


Nematodes are tiny threadworms that are used effectively against larvae. If these come into contact with the nematodes, they become infected with mutating bacteria and die. The roundworms can be bought in gardening shops.

gamma owl

Gamma-ray owls (Autographa gamma) are insects and moths with day and night activity. They, too, can be to blame if basil is eaten. Their caterpillars in particular cause enormous damage to plants every year, while they usually do not cause the plant to die off as larvae. Between May and November, between two and three new generations form on the Ocimum basilicum per season if this is not prevented.


  • Whitish larvae with a body length between 30 and 40 millimeters
  • Caterpillars: Green head, green to blue-greenish body color, yellow-green lateral lines with black stripes
  • Moth: gray-brown to reddish-brown
  • Wingspan: 35 to 40 millimeters
  • Forewings with a distinct silver-white "gamma blemish"
  • eggs on the underside of the leaves
  • Webs on the plant from which the offspring turn out

damage picture

  • Initially small holes in the leaves - often with a slight yellowing
  • Later the leaf edges and stems of the basil were eaten away
  • Growth tips destroyed
  • Leads to Skeleton Feed

root cause

As moths, they primarily follow the scent trail of flowering plants and, after eating them, also like to settle on neighboring green plants without flowers. They prefer weakened basil and love prolonged drought.


  • crushing of eggs
  • Removal of heavily infested plant parts
  • Effective control in the larval stage with nematodes (as described under "vine weevil")
  • Spraying with neem oil (clogs the airways and causes them to die)
  • Soft soap solution against the caterpillars (as described under "Ocean Weevil")

miner fly

The leaf miner (Agromyzidae) or their larvae often infest basil. However, the damage pattern makes it easy to identify a miner fly infestation.


  • Larvae size up to three millimeters, whitish-yellow color, typical fly maggot appearance
  • Miner fly size: one to two millimeters - grey-black ground color with yellow spots
  • Occasional cream-colored eggs seen on the underside of the leaf
  • Puncture marks in the leaves (lay their eggs there)

damage picture

  • Yellow discoloration around puncture sites
  • Minimal pitting at the puncture sites (larvae eat themselves out of the inside of the leaf)
  • Yellow or brown lines on the leaves (tracing through the interior of the leaf tissue via "mining burrows")
  • Leaf tissue dies around the veins and dries up
  • Fall of affected leaves
  • growth disorders
  • Young plants die quickly

root cause

In search of an ideal place to lay eggs and a source of food at the same time, miner flies often lead to basil. Ideal conditions are when compacted soil and/or a lack of supply weakens plants and there is even moisture.


  • Cut off and discard infected parts of the plant
  • If the infestation is severe, discard the basil completely
  • Use of beneficial insects such as parasitic wasps and ladybirds
  • nettle brew
    • Chop about a kilogram of fresh or dried nettles
    • Pour ten liters of cold water over them (nettles must be completely covered)
    • Use a bucket with a lid/cover and place in direct sunlight
    • Leave for between 12 and 24 hours, stirring several times in between
    • Then sieve out the nettle residue
    • Spray basil outdoors with decoction several times a week (broth stinks)

notice: Only stinging nettles that do not have flowers should be used for making the brew, as these affect the effect.

Other animals


Although the cat is not an enthusiastic green herbivore and, above all, does not feel attracted to the essential oils of basil, it can nevertheless be intrigued and playful by eating basil leaves. However, Ocimum basilicum is not poisonous to them. Only a very young animal can react to the basil leaf damage, which then becomes noticeable through slight stomach and intestinal problems. To avoid eating leaves, there are a few tricks to keep cats at a distance:

  • sprinkle pepper
  • Separate with rabbit fence
  • Plant cat grass next to it (cats prefer)

mice and rats

Mice and rats love basil, which is even sold in dried form as a feed (additive) in pet shops. For herb bed owners, however, this is not pleasant, because eaten basil leaves should not be eaten, as diseases can certainly be transmitted. Apart from setting up classic mouse and rat traps, hobby gardeners and herb lovers have little choice to solve the problem. It's still worth trying to keep them at a distance with scents of garlic, savory, borage and/or thyme.

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