Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Monday, June 21, 2010

What's Eating My Sweet Basil?

Herbs generally are rather problem free plants in the garden yet this year I have encountered more problems with herbs than in previous years.  The oregano has been attacked by spider mites and fungus gnats.  Earwigs attacked the potted parsley and I just discovered an unidentified caterpillar attacking the potted sweet basil.  I'm hoping this isn't a sign of things to come for this growing season!

basil combo planter
Like many gardeners I also have several plants growing in pots.  I bought this pre-planted basil combo at the nursery thinking it would look good sitting on one of the picnic tables.  The planter is planted with sweet basil, purple ruffles basil, Siam queen basil and boxwood basil.  The wind blew it over so I moved it onto the covered patio for protection.  A couple of days later I noticed signs of the sweet basil blooming so brought it in to trim up.  The planter was filled with earwings that I blamed signs of damage on.  After knocking all the earwigs out I watered the planter well and made the clippings.  I placed the cuttings in water hoping they would root.  I put both the planter and clippings into the sunporch out of harms way from earwigs.  The next morning I checked the planter and cuttings to discover the black frass under the cuttings, a tell tale sign of some type of caterpillar.  Sure enough upon closer inspection I found a caterpillar happily munching away on the sweet basil cuttings!

unidentified caterpillar that was eating basil
How I missed this caterpillar the day before remains a mystery.  While knocking out the earwigs I likely knocked the caterpillar deeper into the plant then during the night the little critter crawled from the planter back up to the cuttings where it resumed feeding.  I carefully removed the caterpillar for it's photoshoot then set about trying to identify it.  So far I have not had any luck with the identification.  The caterpillar obviously is a foe to sweet basil but had not damaged the other basil.  It is about 1¼- inch long.  It has a black and yellow stripped body with 4 distinctive yellow bumps.  The body is hairy.  The antennae are black and the head is an orangish red.  Any help in identifying this caterpillar would be greatly appreciated.  If you know what this caterpillar is could you please leave a comment. 

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:09 AM

    I think that was a tussock moth caterpillar


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