Bugs on Lemon Balm
Answered by: Richters Staff
Question from: C. Brown
Posted: Before April 1998

In early spring, my Lemon Balm had a bug that made brown spots on the leaves. I think it was the ‘four-lined plant bug’. Is this correct? How do I get rid of it (no chemicals, please)? I thought Lemon Balm was not supposed to get bugs.

It is a myth that herbs such as lemon balm do not attract insects. It is true that herbs are generally less affected by pests compared to, say, vegetables, but most suffer at least some damage caused by insect pests.

We take the view that a little damage is far preferable to perfect leaves grown with poisonous chemicals. So we will accept a certain amount of damage from insects, but everyone’s tolerance level is different.

The fourlined plant bug (Poecilocapsus lineatus) is a pest of eastern North America, attacking currants, gooseberries and mints. The pest is about 1 cm long (1/3 inch), yellowish-green with four black stripes along its length. Lemon balm is a member of the mint family so it is likely that Poecilocapsus attacks lemon balm, although we have never seen it on our plants. In early summer the nymphs and adults feed on leaves causing brown spots and eventually leaves to fall. Unless the damage is severe, affecting most of the leaves, there is little need to apply pesticides. If you are concerned, you can dust your plants regularly with diatomaceaous earth-based pesticides which are safe for food plants.

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