Best Way to Control Different Kinds of Pests When Growing Herbs


Also known as greenfly and blackfly. Small (3mm/1/8 inch or less) pale green, pink, or nearly black insects, which may or may not have wings, cluster near growing tips and buds. They cause leaves and shoots to curl and sometimes to turn yellow or become sticky. Ladybirds and other beneficial insects will eat them. Failing that, hose them off plants with a blast of water. Repeat every few days as needed.


The larvae of many butterflies and moths feed on the leaves of plants, including herbs, and can do a lot of damage. The best course is to pick them off by hand. Then you have a choice: you can either destroy them, or if you prefer not to do that, you can transfer them to a wild plant of the same family as the host plant. Look for any eggs left behind on foliage and remove them too.

Growing Herbs Best Way to Control Different Kinds of Pests When Growing Herbs

Flea beetles

The tiny black or metallic blue flea beetles are easily identified by the way they jump when a plant is touched. The adults eat minute rounded holes in leaves, while the larvae feed on roots. Wasps and birds are their primary predators. If you get an infestation of flea beetles, the only really effective way to prevent damage is to protect plants with floating row covers (lightweight, nonwoven cloths available from garden centres; cover the edges with soil to prevent insects from crawling underneath). Keep the garden clear of plant debris and do a thorough clean-up in the autumn to reduce future problems.


These tiny (8 mm/1/3 inch) insects are easy to recognize as they are surrounded by masses of frothy bubbles (often referred to as cuckoo spit). They suck plant juices and may cause wilting. Remove the bubble masses and the bugs inside, either by hand or by hosing off with a jet of water every couple of days. To minimize problems, keep the garden clear of weed debris.

Leaf miners

These pests (the larvae of various flies, moths, and beetles) feed between upper and lower leaf surfaces, causing white tunnels or blotches on leaves. Remove affected leaves as soon as any damage is visible. Better yet, take preventive measures: protect the plants with floating row covers, and have a thorough clean-up in the autumn.

Growing Herbs 1 Best Way to Control Different Kinds of Pests When Growing Herbs


Small (5 mm/1/4 inch or less) wingless insects covered with white waxy powder and often with tiny trailing white filaments. They secrete honeydew, making the plant sticky. Wipe it off with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol, or hose off with a strong jet of water.

Scale insects

A collection of species that suck juices from plant leaves and stems. They look like tiny bumps of wax. Hose off plants to remove sticky honeydew. Remove severely infested branches or entire plants and destroy them.

Shield bugs

These shield-shaped green bugs, about 1 cm (1/2 inch) long will strip plants of foliage. Look out for them (they can be hard to see against the green of the leaves) and pick them off by hand.

Slugs and snails

Slugs and snails eat seedlings and leaves at night, leaving a slender shiny trail. Encourage predators like birds, frogs and hedgehogs. You can also pick them off by hand yourself. Sprinkling a ring of crushed eggshells around susceptible plants may offer some protection from slugs. Oryoucanset slug traps. Dishes set into the soil and filled with beer work well. The slugs will be attracted to the beer and drown. You just empty the dish and refill it every day, until (you hope) you have eliminated the slugs. Unfortunately, ground beetles, which hunt slugs, may also be attracted to the traps and drown. If you find this is happening, you can substitute empty grapefruit halves set edge-down overnight.

Growing Herbs 2 Best Way to Control Different Kinds of Pests When Growing Herbs _

Spider mites

These are animals so tiny that they appear as small specks under a hand lens. They produce a mottling on leaves and cause them to fall prematurely; the whole plant may be covered with fine webs. Hose off plants with a jet of cold water every few days.


The small (2 mm/1/12 inch) white-winged adults lay eggs on the undersides of leaves. Adults and larvae suck plant juices, weakening plants. Hose off with a jet of water every few days.

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