My Basil is Fawlty.

bigfeet 12 December 2010 26

What the hell is eating my basil plants? Whatever it is is stripping an entire plant of all leaves overnight. Interestingly when I have purple and green basil in the same pot it only eats the green and does not touch the purple.

In the surrounding pots I have various chillis, mint, oregano and asian mint and aside from an occassional nibble on a chilli leaf they are completely untouched. Originally I thought snails or slugs but I have been out at night with a torch and have not spotted a single slimy sucker and there are no trails leading to the pots.

I am at a loss. Any of you riot-gardeners have any ideas of what it is…and how to stop it?


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26 Responses to My Basil is Fawlty.
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Homeless Homeless 9:52 pm 13 Dec 10

Oh, dude are you like that guy with your herbs in a little garden in your front yard? Well, if so, I’m really sorry about eating your basil dude. I thought they were some OTHER kind of herb. Real sorry man. I’ll stop parking in your suburb now. I was wondering why I wasn’t getting high and why my girl friend was accusing me of eating too much pizza.

Antagonist Antagonist 2:57 pm 13 Dec 10

I often use Marigolds as a decoy crop for earwigs. Repels flying insects too, so may address any possible caterpillar issues at the same time.

An old copy of the Chronicle crumpled up near plants makes a terrific earwig trap. Beer trap for snails/slugs, although I have been giving copper tape a run this year with excellent results.

Thanks to sumarai for the tip on vegie oil.

sumarai sumarai 9:06 am 13 Dec 10

+1 earwings … small tubs of vege oil keeps them down. they love the oil and drown in it, though cover or remove the containers if it rains – vege oil and plants dont mix

Ozi said :

Earwigs.

Our garden is infested with the buggers. I strongly suspect that you would find a heap of them under wood logs, or under foliage. They come out at night in their swarms and are voracious when it comes to soft greenery.

Our broccoli was attached and stripped to the bones over night.

Pyrethrum sprays are effective, as are the nastier chemical sprays.

~Ozi.

Ronnie does.

turtle turtle 10:55 pm 12 Dec 10

CATERPILLARS!

Get tweezers. Go and sit at the basil and look under and on all the leaves. Pick all the hiding little caterpillars off!

We had to do it once or twice before they were finally all gone and the basil was saved. There were heaps of them and you couldn’t spot them unless you really looked.

M0les M0les 10:50 pm 12 Dec 10

Razorback Chinchilla -Had to be – couldn’t be anything else!

fgzk fgzk 8:52 pm 12 Dec 10

EL “My guess is caterpillars. We started seeing them in herb pots out on a well elevated balcony, and the basil was eaten quickly.”

I found the same thing. I scraped around the soil and found 3 black caterpillars. They come out at night. Last year it was a green caterpillars that lived under the leaves. I’m going to empty the pots and start again with fresh potting mix.

Anyone want a lot of snails.

Morgan Morgan 7:37 pm 12 Dec 10

Possums dont like peaches infused with brake fluid.

breda breda 6:32 pm 12 Dec 10

Basil disappearing in the night?

It’s the Mafia organising a home pizza night. Be very afraid, and keep your grappa under lock and key.

astrojax astrojax 3:28 pm 12 Dec 10

reptoids, most like. they love a bit of fawlty basil, do reptoids…

actually, plant basil in and around your tomatoes, complementary planting, and each will thrive.

eh_steve eh_steve 1:06 pm 12 Dec 10

Another vote for possums. I know a lot of staff at ANU whose basil is being annhilated by the buggers. They’ll eat the basil and nothing else, so it sounds like this is your problem.

Possums seem likely. Try calling the ‘Garden Gurus’ on 1206 2CC, between 7 and nine am on Saturday mornings. They’ll be able to help you.

buyhercandy buyhercandy 12:15 pm 12 Dec 10

Another vote for possums. I know a lot of staff at ANU whose basil is being annhilated by the buggers. They’ll eat the basil and nothing else, so it sounds like this is your problem.

Floydwafer Floydwafer 11:44 am 12 Dec 10

A good non chemical or trap option for Possums, I had a heck of a problem with the neighbours ‘pet’ possums devouring seedings in the vegie patch. Possums are highly territorial – I grabbed a couple of stuffed toys (possum like in appearance) from the dump recyclers. Hang these on the fence or other structure in the vegie patch and move them around every now and again…… The first night they were knocked to the ground and after that no more damage….

ronafios ronafios 10:47 am 12 Dec 10

Annoying, isn’t it? Probably is snails, slugs, or slaters – even if you didn’t see any when you checked. Best time to check for them seems to be about 10-11PM, but they come out at all different times.

I solved my ‘basil being eaten’ problem by using some Multiguard snail bait from Bunnings. I don’t usually like adding pesticides etc, but all my young plants were being eaten! The iron ETDA stuff isn’t like the blue or green snail bait, it’s not harmful to pets or children, and breaks down to usable iron for the plants. It acts as an appetite suppressant rather than a poison. Seems to have some efficacy with slaters as well. I’d recommend throwing a few handfulls around your young plants, and see if it makes a difference.

My capsicum, chilli, basil, and many other seedlings were disappearing overnight, but are all nice and healthy now!

Me no fry Me no fry 10:47 am 12 Dec 10

Possums? I’ve seen magpies eat various herb plants – but only during the day.

Sammy Sammy 10:45 am 12 Dec 10

Possums would be my guess

Deano Deano 10:33 am 12 Dec 10

Possums – they love basil.

enrique enrique 10:18 am 12 Dec 10

Even though you didn’t actually see the snails/slugs there’s a pretty good chance that’s what did it. Scatter some eggshells around if you want to try and stop them (or, go the whole hog and nuke them with snail pellets)

My other guess would be possums.

Sheridan Sheridan 10:17 am 12 Dec 10

it would usually be snails or slugs, but if you haven’t seen any during the night it could be caterpillars. during the day they hide underneath the leaves so you can’t really see them unless you are particularly looking.

how i stop them eating my basil plants:

– make up a soap water spray in an old pump/trigger squirting bottle, then spray this all over the basil plant. the catapillars and slugs and snails hate the soapiness so they don’t eat the leaves. you will need to reapply it every time after it has rained (and of course wash the basil well before you eat it)

– companion planting, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_companion_plants usually marigolds work well but i haven’t needed any this season

another thing, slugs and snails love beer so if you do have a slug/snail problem, you could dig a small hole near the plants and then fill an old margarine container with beer and bury it so the top of the container is level and open with the ground. the slugs and snails will go for the beer and then won’t be able to get out and they should drown in there.

Ozi Ozi 10:05 am 12 Dec 10

Earwigs.

Our garden is infested with the buggers. I strongly suspect that you would find a heap of them under wood logs, or under foliage. They come out at night in their swarms and are voracious when it comes to soft greenery.

Our broccoli was attached and stripped to the bones over night.

Pyrethrum sprays are effective, as are the nastier chemical sprays.

~Ozi.

el el 10:00 am 12 Dec 10

My guess is caterpillars. We started seeing them in herb pots out on a well elevated balcony, and the basil was eaten quickly.

I believe a popular ‘natural’ pesticide is to cook up a solution out of garlic, chilli and water and apply with a spray bottle.

There’s a link here: http://organic.lovetoknow.com/Organic_Pesticide

There’s bound to be more if you google for ‘natural pesticide’. Cheers.

(sorry mods, the ‘Preview’ button seems to be gone, and I borked the HTML)

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