Delicious on fish and a must for any self-respecting dill pickle lover, dill (Anethum graveolens) is an herb native to the Mediterranean. As with most herbs, dill is fairly easy to care for but it does have its share of dill plant pests. Read on to find out about getting rid of insects on dill and other dill plant care.
Pests on Dill Plants
Dill isn’t bothered by too many pests. That said, there are a few frequent insects that enjoy feasting on these plants.
One of the more common pests on dill plants is the aphid. This comes as no surprise since aphids seem to enjoy munching on everything. A few aphids are no big deal, but aphids tend to multiply rapidly and can then severely weaken the plant.
Interestingly, you may have heard that if you have plants that are being attacked, you should plant dill near them. The dill acts as a magnet to the aphids, drawing them to the herb, and removing the threat from other plants.
Aphid pests on dill plants usually meet their downfall in the form of the herb’s flowers. The small flowers are a powerful attractor to ladybugs, and ladybugs just happen to love dining on aphids. If your dill is in bloom, the problem will probably take care of itself. If not, you can always buy some ladybugs and sprinkle them onto the aphid-infested dill.
Caterpillars and Worms
Another dill plant pest is the parsley worm. These caterpillars will eventually become gorgeous, black swallowtail butterflies. They are usually not so plentiful that they will destroy the dill, but if you want to avoid any damage, simply remove them by hand.
Less benign is the armyworm whose young larvae feed heavily wreaking havoc on foliage. The armyworm reproduces rapidly as well, with from 3-5 generations in a single year. Biological control of Bacillus thuringiensis can be used to parasitize the larvae. Chemical control for the home gardener is limited in its usefulness.
Cutworm larvae can eat clean through stems at the soil line. These pests are active at night but can be seen when the soil is disturbed during the day in their tell-tale curled C-shape. Cutworms, sort of like aphids, like almost everything to eat.
They are difficult to treat. Remove all plant detritus from the area post-harvest or at least two weeks prior to replanting. Use plastic or foil collars around the plant stems, dug down into the soil several inches (7.5 to 15 cm.) to prevent the larvae from severing stems. Also, spread diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants which will cut the worms if they crawl over it.
Other Dill Pests
Dill Plant Care and Pest Control
Dill plant care is simple but vital to the health of the plant. If the dill is in good health, generally getting rid of insects on dill is not imperative unless there is a severe infestation.
Dill thrives in a full sun location in well-draining soil amended with organic fertilizer like compost. Sow the seeds in early spring once the ground has warmed. Plant the seeds just below the surface of the soil. Keep the plant regularly watered.
A self-seeding annual, healthy dill will return year after year. The lovely lacy, yellow flowers will attract not only ladybugs but parasitic wasps, which attack all manner of caterpillars. Between these two predator insects, dill stands a good chance of making it into those homemade dill pickles.