Basil with White Slime on It
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Christine Morin
Posted on: September 05, 2007

I am so glad I found your website. I love basil and use it in various recipes. I grow in in a large flower pot in my back yard in Round Rock, Texas, USA just North of Austin.

When I pick the herb I typically cut off the tips of the plants. I noticed in the past three years of grwing this herb that there is a white slimy substance just underneath the cluster of leaves, typically at the top of the plants. What is this substance? It washes off rather easily, but I am afraid to use that portion of the plant so I throw it away.

It almost looks like something spit on it. It kind of looks like white slime.

Is this commonly found when you grow basil? Is it harmful?

This sounds a lot like an attack of spittle bugs. They love tender juicy plants and the adult lays an egg near the top of the victimized plant. When the egg hatches the larva secretes a spittle-like foam around itself and uses it to hide in. If you wash off the spittle in a container you will find the larva either still on the plant or in the container. It reminds me of a miniature cicada. Just crush the little beast and enjoy every bit of the washed basil, as the foam is not harmful.

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