Protecting Dill from Pests and Insects
Dill is one of those aromatic herbs that will always attract insects and other pests. For this reason dill is recommended by many as a natural method of controlling these pests on other plants. If you have a plant bed that gets attacked by aphids you will be told that one of the cures is to plant dill. The dill becomes the target of the attacks and the aphids leave the plants alone. So, how do you protect dill?
Dill is a very strong plant and as long as it is healthy, it will resist most insect attacks. Keeping dill healthy is all about maintaining the soil in the best condition. Don’t use chemical fertilizers on your soil. These can add salt and drive away earthworms. Earthworms are vital to soil health as they excavate long tunnels and introduce ventilation as well as producing castings. Worm castings are probably the most nutritious organic fertilizer available. To keep the soil moist, water your plants in the morning to reduce evaporation and to give the leaves of the plants time to dry to prevent molds growing. Healthy plants in healthy soil suffer less damage from insect attacks.
Aphids are a plant nuisance that have strong mouth parts and are able to chew into leaves and stems and siphon out the juices. A few aphids are sustainable but they multiply quickly and can severely weaken an infested plant. In the face of an aphid attack, dill is its own protector. The small flowers of the dill plant attract lady bugs and they consume huge numbers of aphids every day. If your dill has not flowered or if you do not want it to flower you can buy lady bugs and introduce them to your aphid infested dill.
Parsley worms are the caterpillars of the black swallowtail butterfly. Although the parsley worms can do enormous damage to plants as they go through several molts to become the final green and black striped version, the butterflies are beautiful creatures and you should not try to destroy all the caterpillars. The caterpillars are large enough to be removed from the plants by hand so you can transfer them to plants that are not so valuable. If you keep a small patch of weeds in your garden, that would be an ideal location for them. If you want to keep some of the caterpillars you can also sacrifice a few dill plants.
Parasitic wasps prey upon all sorts of caterpillars. They are very tiny and kill off caterpillars by laying their eggs inside the body cavity. The larvae that hatch devour the caterpillar before it can pupate into a moth or butterfly to start the whole process over again. Dill attracts the parasitic wasp because the aroma it gives off will attract butterflies and caterpillars.
Maintaining healthy plants in healthy soil is your first line of defense. Combined with predator bugs, this should be enough to keep your dill safe and sound.