Basil and aphids; please help out a newbie gardener

Greetings,
I am new here, and this is my first gardening adventure. I have a pot on my patio, and in it I have five basil plants and an oregano plant that I purchased as seedlings. Everything was going fine, and they were growing well, but I have recently noticed a great number of little critters taking over on the tips of most of the basil plants. I suspect that they are aphids, or something like that, although I am fairly naive about different insects and how to deal with them. So I am soliciting advice: how should I get rid of them? I plan to use the basil in cooking, so I hope to avoid an unpleasant, toxic sort of treatment. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I have provided the following two pictures to help illustrate the problem.
http://i4.tinypic.com/10d76ac.jpg
http://i4.tinypic.com/10d786u.jpg
Also, I wonder if you think that I am overcrowding the pot? I know I have the plants spaced much closer than the typically quoted value, but I have read that container gardens can accomodate a much greater density of plants, but I could not find a good guideline for this.
Thank you for whatever help you may provide!
Andy
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that's a great looking pot you have there and everything looks great! you can zap those mites with insect soap. the best i know of is "bon-neem" http://www.yardener.com/Bon-NeembyBonide.html
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The first thing you do is cut the plants back to about 3 or 4 nodes and harvest the tops, this will make them put 2x as many top branches. Take the harvested basil and put it in a collander and spray the hell out of it with the sink sprayer to remove the aphids ( which by now are basil flavored anyway) and use it. If you are not ready top use it pack it into an ice cube tray and add water and freeze until you are ready. Now take the plant and set the sink spray for warm and hose down the plant and you will remove most of the aphids. This is something you can repeat every 4 days or so, you are controlling the aphids by washing them down the drain not poisoning anything. Aphids like lush new growth the best, are you feeding your potted plants heavily?
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