I know my sweet basil plants are infested with white creepy crawlies. Are these whiteflies? (Click on the photo to zoom in) enter image description here

Where do these creepy crawlies come from? I am growing the basil on the balcony of my sixth-floor apartment. Do you think it might be because of a small compost pot that I have on the balcony too?

I am not sure I can save any of my plants. The other ones show fewer of these white creepy crawlies but I am sure more are hidden. The question I have is for future batches of sweet basil, what can I do to prevent these infestation. I am thinking of growing these under a fine insect-proof mesh or moving it completely indoors into one the bedrooms which still get a bit of light.

  • 1
    I've had white flies on basil before. They congregate on the bottom of the leaves and then fly away when shaken. Not as damaging as this pest!
    – Rhizoqueer
    May 27, 2017 at 4:19

1 Answer 1


If, as seems likely to me, like this:

Woolly aphid (Image courtesy Tmaq97)

They are Eriosomatinae (woolly aphids] rather than whiteflies. They can be dealt with fairly easily. Those that don’t just wash off can be sprayed with 'horticultural' soap (that is, not a detergent) and, where available, neem oil.

These insects fly/are blown around in the atmosphere. Your plants should be salvageable and I'd not bother with a mesh or moving indoors. Depending on where you are more sunlight may be better overall and a mesh might do more to keep out their predators than the aphids.


If this (about the same size as the aphid above):

Mealybug(Image courtesy D-Kuru)

(or similar but with no significant tail) then likely a mealybug (Pseudococcidae). Insecticidal soap will work against both aphids and mealybugs.

  • Is your photo that of a mature wooly aphids? I don't seem to see wings. Also, what else could be considered a horticultural soap? Normal soap water?
    – Spinor8
    May 27, 2017 at 15:44

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