While white vinegar does have its uses in the garden, do not use it to kill bugs in your basil plant (Ocimum basilicum). Vinegar is more typically used as an herbicide, helping kill pesky weeds, and it may damage the leaves of your basil plant.
What Vinegar Does
Vinegar — if it is white vinegar or a different type — contains acetic acid, which damages plant tissues. You can use white vinegar that has 5 percent acetic acid — as an herbicide, but it is going to damage any plant it touches. When you spray it onto the leaves, it causes the leaves to shrivel up. Because you most likely need to eat the leaves of your basil plant, that isn’t going to get the job done.
Controlling Basil Pests
Common insects around tanning plants comprise whiteflies, slugs and cutworms. To deal with whiteflies, spray on the basil plants with water, using a strong spray. For slugs, place iron phosphate pellets across the base of each plant, using four to eight magnets for every square foot of soil, or as stated by the package’s instructions. For cutworms, shine a torch on the plant at night and remove the worms from hand, or put cutworm collars, which you may purchase at garden centers, around the base of each plant.