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Like other herbs that you can grow in the garden, basil is often known for attracting beneficial insects and repelling harmful insects that can affect other crops. But there are times when gardeners start to notice something is eating their basil when they see holes starting to appear in the leaves. This can lead to an investigative period trying to figure out what is eating and then they often ask if it could be slugs causing these holes.
Do Slugs Eat Basil Plants?
Slugs do eat basil plants. And the most common sign that a slug is eating your basil is that in the morning you will see holes starting to appear in the leaves. Slugs like to eat plants at night. You can also sometimes find them during the day near your plants if it is an overcast and rainy day.
The holes in the leaves are often accompanied by a slug slime trail near your plant in the dirt. If you don’t see a slime trail there could be another culprit eating your basil, earwigs.
How To Protect Basil From Slugs
Slugs love moisture. If you are overwatering your garden plants you are creating a moist environment that they will love to be in.
Make sure to allow some time for the top of the soil to dry out between watering. Sometimes this can’t be done if you have a period of time with lots of rain. If that happens then you will have to use some other tactics to keep the slugs from eating your basil plants.
You will often see it recommended to use Diatomaceous Earth to get rid of slugs. It does not work by killing slugs, it actually only irritates them and makes them look for other routes that won’t be so irritating to their bodies. This can be a good tool to use to help combat slugs maneuverability in your garden.
If you want to use Diatomaceous Earth as part of your toolkit to stop the slugs from eating basil in your garden then use it by putting it as a boundary around your plants.
Slug collars are another tool that gardeners use to keep slugs off of the plants they like to eat. However, this can be burdensome if you have many plants that they are eating, as it is one collar per plant.
Slug and Snail Bait
This is the main thing that I use to combat slugs eating my basil and other plants. Be cautious if you use slug bait, as some can be harmful to pets and wildlife.
I use Garden Safe Slug & Snail Bait since it is organic and is one of the safer ones to use around pets and wildlife. But if you have an animal that is known for eating anything that you throw out in the garden, you might want to use other methods to get rid of the slugs.
One of the best things I use to keep not only slugs, but also rabbits, deer, and skunks, off my newly planted seedlings is to make small cages out of chicken wire. I use 3-foot tall chicken wire and make a small circular enclosure by securing it together with zip ties. This usually gets most of my smaller plants past the vulnerable stages when they first get planted.
Slug Beer Traps
You can use slug beer traps to get rid of slugs around your basil plants. This is a very safe and organic way to get rid of some slugs. But they only work for a few feet around the trap so you have to set quite a few up.
All you need is some aluminum pie pans and beer. Put the beer in the pan and the slugs will come in at night and drown in it. It won’t get rid of all of them, some will still get back out of the trap. So don’t look for this to be a way to 100% trap the slugs.
My Process for Stopping Slugs From Eating My Basil
Basil is one of the plants we see the most slug damage on in our garden, so it is something I start combating before I even plant my basil.
The first thing I do is use slug bait in the garden area about 2 weeks before planting, and then I continue to put it out after we have large rain amounts come down.
Once I plant my basil I use my chicken wire enclosures, and then when those are removed I use diatomaceous earth as a boundary around the plants.
We don’t usually use the beer traps, because we never seem to have any at the house so I don’t bother with that method.