How To Protect Your Parsley From Pests

Parsley is a leafy, cool season crop that comes in many varieties including Curled leaf parsley, Italian parsley and Hamburg parsley. It belongs to the same family as celery.

Protection of parsley from pests is dependent on the type of pests that attacks your parsley because different parsley pests have different control measures.

What is eating my parsley leaves at night?

If you find your parsley leaves eaten when you wake up in the morning, the culprit is deer. Deer love parsley and are known to browse during the day and also at night.

This is especially common for people living in areas with large populations of deer. Other common culprits are snails, slugs and earwigs. Any of these could be eating your parsley at night.

They are nocturnal and can cause great damage within a very short time despite their small sizes. It helps greatly to put a line of salt around your garden as a deterrent measure.

You can also scatter crushed eggshells around your parsley. They are sharp enough to deter slugs.

Are there animals that eat parsley?

Yes. There are animals that eat parsley. These include goats, chicken, rabbits, birds, and black swallowtail caterpillars. In places like Australia, United Kingdom and New Zealand, a Wallaby is a common culprit.

It is known to eat large amounts of parsley and utterly destroy the crop. Another culprit found most commonly in Australia is a small animal called Opossum. It loves to eat parsley.

How do I keep Aphids off my parsley?

To keep aphids off your parsley, do the following:

  • Use chemicals that have systemic penetrating activity to effectively control aphids.
  • Destroy all crop residue.
  • Disk your farm.

These 3 control measures will go a long way in protecting your parsley crop. They also reduce aphid migration to other crops in your farm. Other control measures are as follows:

1) Manually remove the aphids

This is effective when dealing with very few aphids. Pick the aphids off the leaves of your parsley and place them on a paper towel.

Crush them and dispose the paper towel in a dustbin to ensure no aphid is left alive to cause re-infestation. Inspect your parsley leaves to ensure no aphids are left behind.

Take a wet paper towel and rub off any sap or aphid residue from the leaves to guarantee that no aphids will emerge. Doing this will also keep away ants from attacking your plants in a bid to reach the aphid waste which they feed on. 

Larger population of aphids

Where the aphid population is larger, use wet paper towel to gently brush the aphids off the parsley leaves and into a trashcan. Never brush them onto the ground as they can crawl pretty fast to the rest of the crops.

Do an inspection to ensure all aphids have been cleared off the leaves, then using another wet paper towel, rub off any residue or sap from your leaves to ascertain that re-infestation does not occur and that no other harmful insects are attracted to the crop.

Massive population of Aphids

Where the aphid infestation is massive, spray the underside of your parsley leaves and the parsley plants with water using a hosepipe.

Do this in the morning. Ensure the power setting on your hose is high to guarantee complete aphid removal. Leave the leaves to dry and repeat the process in the evening.

Keep doing this daily until all the aphids are eradicated. Do the same with all uninfected parsley plants to prevent any possible spread of aphids to them.

2) Use pesticide soap

You can use pesticide soap to protect your parsley leaves from aphid infestation. It is made of potassium and fatty acids. You will get it from an agricultural store.

3) Use systemic pesticide

Using a systemic pesticide containing the chemical called Imidacloprid early in the morning is equally effective in getting rid of aphids. Imidacloprid is non-toxic and is also a beneficial pollinator.

4) Use organic pesticide

Create your own organic pesticide by mixing 3 teaspoons of dishwashing soap or mild liquid soap with 1 quart of water. Spray or apply it on your leaves if you do not have a spray bottle.

Optionally, you can mix 1 teaspoon of mild liquid soap with a teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 1 quart of water. Apply daily on your parsley every morning until all the aphids are smothered.

It is however worth noting that this method of aphid control is not as effective as chemical pesticides.

5) Use essential oils

Essential oils are very effective in getting rid of aphids and other pests. Add 4 to 5 drops of clove, rosemary, peppermint and thyme into 1 cup of water.

Mix well and spray onto your parsley leaves and plants every morning until all the aphids are smothered. You can apply the mixture in the evening as well if you like.

Essential oils are great in preventing aphid infestation on parsley, therefore apply them as soon as you grow new parsley.

6) Grow parsley that attracts beneficial insects

If you don’t want to use chemical or organic sprays, grow parsley varieties that attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs, humming birds and green lacewings.

They are extremely effective and quick in eating and getting rid of aphids and this will protect your parsley crop.

These beneficial insects also help to prevent aphid infestation while your parsley is still uninfected. They also attract ant colonies away from parsley.

7) Use companion planting

To prevent aphid attack on your parsley, plant crops such as garlic, onions, leeks, chives, oregano, sage and basil around your parsley. Their strong scent will repel aphids from your parsley crop.

8) Avoid growing crops that attract aphids around your parsley

Crops or plants that attract aphids must not be grown near parsley. These include corn, eggplant, lettuce, cauliflower, green beans, potatoes, broccoli, soybean, peppers, asparagus and brussels sprout. You can grow these crops far from your parsley as a preventive measure.

9) Cut parsley leaves and/or branches

Where manual removal and spraying of chemical and organic insecticides fails, remove the leaves of your parsley and wait for a day. If you still find aphids on your parsley plants, remove a few branches.

Be careful not to remove more than a third of the branches otherwise your plants will die. Dispose the leaves and branches into your dustbin. Avoid composting them or leaving them near other crops that can get infested.

10) Use Diatomaceous Earth to dust your parsley leaves

Lightly apply diatomaceous earth on your parsley leaves. It will kill aphids immediately. It is safe to use as it is non-toxic to humans and animals. You can also dust your parsley early after planting to prevent aphids.

However, use of diatomaceous earth is an expensive remedy compared to other remedies. It also kills beneficial insects such as bees. It should therefore be used only as a last result.

11) Keep your parsley well-watered

Ensure your parsley is well-watered throughout the growing season. This helps your parsley to remain strong enough to produce chemicals that help it ward off harmful pests such as aphids. Parsley wakened by lack of water is not able to fend off harmful insects.

12) Use mylar or silver reflective mulch

Use of mylar or silver reflective mulch is effective at keeping aphids away. Spread it throughout your farm and grow your parsley in the mulch holes.

Aphids will stay away. The mulch will also help to retain the nutrients and water needed for the proper growth of your parsley. 

13) Destroy ant colonies

You will always find ant colonies wherever aphids invade. This is because they eat honeydew, which is the waste produced by aphids. The ants also protect aphids from being eaten by beneficial insects leading to mass infestation of your parsley by aphids.

What lays eggs on parsley?

It is butterflies that lay eggs on parsley plants. The eggs then hatch into caterpillars. These caterpillars eat the leaves of parsley before moving into pupa stage to create a chrysalis that eventually becomes an adult butterfly.

What insects are attracted to parsley?

There are several types of insects that are attracted to parsley. They fall into three categories: predators, parasitoids and plant pollinators.

Predators are those insects that prey on other insects. They include praying mantis, ladybugs, lacewings and hoverflies. They are attracted to parsley.

Parasitoids are those insects whose larva exist as parasites in or on another organism known as a host. They eventually kill their hosts. These include beetles, flies, wasps and worms, all of which are attracted to parsley.

Pollinators are those insects that help to pollinate plants by transferring pollen from the male part of a flower to the female part of the same or other flower, leading to fertilization.

The result is the production of seeds, fruits and new plants. A good example of pollinators is honeybees and butterflies. These are attracted to most plants including parsley.