3 Reasons Why Holes in Basil Leaves [Complete Treatment]

Basil is easy to grow edible herbs that people love to grow both indoor and outdoor. Yes! It is easy to grow but producing the perfect leaves is not so easy.

The small and tiny holes in basil plant leaves are the main obstacle to get perfect and healthy leaves. And there are a lot of causes of holes in the basil plant leaves such as insects, diseases, and animals.

The good news; there are a lot of ways to protect the basil plants from creating pinholes.

In this article, I am going to discuss every possible reason behind the holes in basil leaves with the most effective controlling measures.

So, without further ado, let’s get started-

What are the Causes & Treatment of Holes in Basil Leaves?

1. Insects and Pest on Basil Leaves

Japanese Beetles, Slugs, Snails, Aphids, Leafhoppers, and some other soft-bodied insects can create holes in the basil leaves. Let’s identify the insects-

Slugs or Snails

You don’t notice any insects and pests on the basil plants at daylight and but in the morning if you see the holes in basil and mint leaves, then it is for slugs or snails. Because they eat plant leaves at night.

They eat soft leaves and create irregular shaped holes on the plants. Take your torch and observe your basil plants at night to make sure it is happening by slugs and snails.

How to Get Rid of Slugs and Snail?

  1. Pluck the damaged leaves and clean (remove the debris, bricks, and weeds) the growing areas.
  2. Sprinkle the slug and snail killer around the basil plants.

Here are the most effective slug and snail killer for you-

  1. Monterey LG6500 Sluggo Wildlife and Pet Safe Slug Killer(Organic)
  2. Ortho 475610 Bug-Geta Snail and Slug Killer (Synthetic)

Japanese Beetles

Japanese Beetles are metallic blue-green colored small insects and they found in the late spring and early summer.

They only feed the soft leaves but they don’t touch the large veins. So, you can see the skeleton of the leaves after complete damage of the basil leaves by the Japanese beetles.

How to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles?

Insecticide- Buy an insecticide that contains insecticidal soap, neem oil, or pyrethrin as an active ingredient. All the active ingredients are powerful to kill Japanese Beetles and other insects.

Here are the recommended organic insecticide to kill Japanese Beetles-

  1. Bonide (BND857) – Pyrethrin Garden Insect Spray Mix
  2. Garden Safe HG-93179 Neem Oil Extract Concentrate
  3. Safer Brand 5118-6 Insect Killing Soap Concentrate 

Homemade Insecticide-You can also make insecticide at home. To do that follow the procedure-

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon of liquid detergent into a quart of water.
  2. Add 1 cup of vegetable oil or neem oil.
  3. Shake properly and spray on the plants.

Check The Articles for More Recipes-

Warnings: Homemade insecticide can damage the leaves of your basil plants. So, test on a few leaves before applying thoroughly.

Aphids, Leafhoppers, and Soft-bodied Insects

Aphids, Leafhopper, spider mites, whiteflies, and some other insects love to eat the cell cap and green soft leaves of the basil and other edible herbs. They eat and leave the leaves with small holes.

How to Get Rid of Them?

Insecticidal soap, neem oil, pyrethrin, spinosad are good at killing the soft-bodied insects. You can spray any of the insecticides that contain any of these as an active ingredient to keep away the bugs from the basil plants. For recommendations see how to get rid of the Japanese beetles?

2.Fungal Diseases on Basil

Fungal diseases also create small holes in your basil leaves. But in this case, you can notice brown holes or holes in basil leaves with black spots. Fungal infestation is too destructive because it can move from the affected leaves to healthy leaves. So, you must remove the affected leaves carefully.

How to Get Rid of Fungal Diseases?

Applying fungicide(our pick: Bonide 811 Copper Fungicide) is the best way to get rid of fungal infestations. But you can also apply neem oil to protect the basil from fungus as well as insects.

Here is the homemade fungicide that also effective-

  1. Mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda into a gallon of water.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon mild soap.
  3. Shake the solution and spray on your basil plant.


Sometimes animals like a cat, rat, mole, vole can create a hole in the basil leaves. If you don’t notice any active insects, then you should observe your pet and other animal activity. Remember, it is very rare to happen.

To protect the leaves damages from animals, keep them away from your basil plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe to eat basil with holes?

If the insects and diseases create the holes, then you can eat the basil leaves with holes. But you must wash properly before eating. You must avoid the leaves if the holes due to rats, moles, and voles.

Do squirrels eat basil?

Squirrels eat the vegetable, fruits, and nuts such as squash, broccoli oranges, apricots, apple, and avocados. There is no such evidence that they eat basil but they may eat basil. After they love vegetables.

Do rabbits eat basil?

Rabbits eat basil. So, if you have rabbits, stay away from basil. And Good news; Some animal expert says basil is not too healthy for rabbits.

How to keep bugs off a basil plant?

There are lots of methods to keep bugs off basil plants. Handpicking can work for a small number of insects. Pick the insects manually and kill them. Also, you can apply an insecticide such as insecticidal soap, neem oil, spinosad, and pyrethrin to keep the bugs away from basil plants.


If the basil plants have small holes in leaves, then probably it is happening due to the slug, snails, and Japanese beetles. Moreover, it may happen because of fungal diseases and animals.

And every single detail about pinholes on basil leaves I have tried to discuss with effective solutions. I hope it will help you to get healthy basil and mint leaves.

Leave a Comment