You would think that spicy or sweet pepper plants would deter all animals and insects, but that is not the case!
Many garden pests such as caterpillars, snails, and aphids prefer to feed on these plants due to their aromatic leaves and delectable flavors.
This article will answer “what is eating my pepper plants?” and how you can tell if they are plaguing your pepper plants.
What Are My Pepper Pests?
So, what are these pesky pests that are ruining pepper crops and other types of vegetables? Spicy peppers deter most birds and animals, but some insects don’t seem to mind the heat at all. It appears as though they’ve got a penchant for spicy chilis, or even sweet peppers, for that matter.
There are quite a few plant bugs that frequent pepper plant leaves and can cause severe damage to them. Sometimes we can’t see them, but we know they are presently based on their destruction to the plant’s leaves and body.
So who are the biggest culprits here?
There are two main culprits in this category: tomato worms and the tobacco hornworms. Common in the US and Canada, these caterpillars love to chew continuously.
It would be extremely easy for a group of caterpillars to destroy an entire plant overnight, so you must look out for these guys.
Suppose the leaves of your plants have large visible holes, destroyed leaves, and flowers. Another clue is scarring on the surface of your peppers. If you see any of these signs, you may have got a tomato or tobacco hornworms.
Do you know those teeny tiny red little bugs? Well, they are called spider mites, and they can be quite the pest! When it comes to plants, they prefer to attack the leaves over the peppers or vegetation itself.
If you start to notice that the undersides of leaves on your plants appear to have an unfamiliar layer of dust, well, that’s the spider mite’s calling card. What appears to be dust is a congregation of these little pests. You might also notice webbings on the leaves too.
Many pepper growers hate pepper weevils and all the damage they cause. They feed on all parts of the plant and prefer to feed at night.
Another tiny little insect is the thrip. Thrips cause damage by chewing leaves and pepper flowers. You might notice wrinkling and scarring on your plants.
They also have the ability to carry a plant-harming virus called Necrotic Spot Virus (INSV). Once the thrip is infected, it can pass on this virus to other plants. Unfortunately, you cannot cure affected plants.
However, they are easier to eradicate than many of the other pests listed here. But these are ones to look out for.
There are thousands of different Aphids species, a pest that can cause severe damage to your pepper plants. They do this by sucking the fluids out of plants, which causes them to dry out and the leaves to curl.
One clear giveaway that you’ve got a bad case of aphids is if you notice a sticky substance on your plants. This sticky substance is known as “honeydew” and is a product of all the sugars the aphids are sucking out of the plant.
An aphid infestation on pepper plants can cause much damage if not tended to promptly, AND they multiply quickly. So look out for these guys.
These little beetles will chew small pits and holes into the leaves of your plants. At their worst, flea beetles can cause stunted and wilted plants.
These pests are at their worst in spring. They love newly hatched seedlings and newly sprouted plants and will destroy your garden before it’s even started if you’re not careful.
NOTE: Japanese beetles also attack pepper plants.
Snails and Slugs
Snails and slugs eating plants have a habit of munching on the leaves of pepper plants. It will be straightforward to identify if you are dealing with snails or slugs because you will notice the slimy trail they leave behind. They will also be easy to handpick.
If you give your plant a little shake and notice tiny whiteflies in the air, you are dealing with whiteflies. Like the aphid, whiteflies on pepper plants suck the sap out of plants and leave behind a sticky “honeydew” substance.
The substance will soon turn to mold, and this will stunt your plants’ growth. They can be very destructive, and you can commonly find them on the underside of leaves.
Sticky traps can be used over pesticides to reduce whitefly populations.
If you’ve been wondering, “what is eating my pepper plants?” now you know! If you can figure out what is attacking your plants, you can formulate an effective strategy and response to keep your plants protected.