When you find something is eating your pepper plants, it can seem all your hard work has gone to nothing.
Once you see leaves nibbled at or holes, you quickly discover it can compromise the health of your pepper plants. Bell peppers and tomatoes are not just tasty vegetables to eat; they also come with many health benefits.
Luckily, you can use this guide and find out what’s eating my pepper plants and put a stop to it.
By the end, you’ll see all the safe-to-use ways of deterring any pest, be it slugs, deer, or rabbits who venture into your garden. (Learn about the best flea repelling plants)
What Is Eating My Pepper Plant Leaves at Night?
When something is eating your hot pepper leaves on your pepper plants, there is a chance it can be any of the following. While there are many pests here, one of them is the outright leader who looks like the insect world’s hot pepper-eating champ.
Slugs: Slugs feed on pepper plant leaves and cause damage. You spot slugs from the trail they leave.
Pepper Weevils: Pepper weevils are small insects with hard bodies. They use their long proboscis to eat pepper plant leaves. Both larvae and adults eat pepper plant leaves, though the larvae cause the most damage to hot pepper plant fruits.
Pepper Hornworms: Pepper hornworms are moth larvae. They are hard to spot as they hide during the day under pepper plant leaves and around other hard-to-see areas.
Thrips: Thrips are small insects and hard to see. They can eat pepper plant flowers and leaves of peppers and other plants around your garden. Thrips can be easy to control.
Red Spider Mites: Red spider mites are tiny insects like thrips and will attack any vegetables in your garden. It is the leaves of the pepper plants these insects like most.
Whiteflies: Whiteflies are dangerous to your pepper plant crops, yet shake your pepper plants every few days, and you could see the flies flying away.
Caterpillars: Caterpillars can cause damage to pepper plants. They attack leaves and can eat an entire pepper plant overnight. (Read Squash Plant Leaves)
As you can see, it sounds like there are plenty of garden pests around your peppers. However, once you ask, what is eating my plants at night, you usually end up with one answer.
Pepper hornworms are the primary culprit from insects, closely followed by caterpillars. You can spot the difference when something is eating your leaves because of the extent of the damage. Your bell pepper leaf damage will be minimal from pepper hornworms yet extensive from caterpillars. You may find that even if you have tomatoes close by, these plants are not touched. (Read Fly Repellent Plants)
What is Eating My Peppers?
If you find something is eating your hot pepper plants, you may be surprised to find rabbits and deer can take a liking to these pepper plants. You could spot this easier than a pepper hornworm as if you have tomatoes; they would eat this. Some insects will bypass a tomato plant if they prefer the leaves of your pepper plants. (Read Tomato Leaves Turning White – What to Do)
The funny thing is, hot pepper is one way you can keep rabbits and deer from plants in your garden, as when dried, hot pepper is a smell they hate.
Luckily, rabbits and deer can be easier to deal with than pests and insects you can’t see.
How Do I Keep Bugs From Eating My Peppers?
While you can use insecticides and pesticides, your garden and family should use methods you know are safe to use.
Besides, regularly using them will make insects resistant. You can change them with natural methods so insects, pests, or even rabbits and deer, won’t get used to something. Lastly, you can use these on your tomatoes as quickly as on your pepper plants to get rid of pepper pests. (Read Plant Tomato Plants How Far Apart)
- Beneficial Bacteria and Fungi: If you’re growing pepper plants in pots, there is a chance you have sterile soil. Unfortunately, sterile soil is ideal for most pests, fungi, and bacteria. Introduce beneficial bacteria and fungi like Bacillus Thuringiensis and mycorrhizal fungi.
- Handpicking: Pepper pests like slugs and caterpillars can be handpicked at night when they are active.
- Water Hose: Pests like whiteflies, aphids, and mites can be dislodged from pepper plants using a hose. Spray water around the leaves of mature plants. However, when you spray water, make sure you don’t end up overwatering pepper plants or tomatoes if doing all your garden.
- Sticky Traps: Sticky traps are safe to use, and you can place these around the bottom of your plants on the ground. Doing this, stop crawling insects and pests from climbing up your plants’ stem and causing damage. You can find many types of traps available.
- Soapy Water: Spray a little soapy water on pepper plant branches and leaves as this can be a rapid and effective, safe method. Spray soapy water weekly may be enough to stop pests from coming back.
- Diatomaceous Earth: You can sprinkle a little of this everywhere. Sprinkle on your plants, on top of the soil, and it will kill many bugs and pests. The problem with this is if it rains. Rain will wash it away, and you need to reapply another day.
- Neem Oil: Neem oil can be used to kill many garden pests.
How Do You Keep Animals from Eating Pepper Plants?
When you ask do rabbits eat pepper plants, they tend to go for young shoots, stems, and leaves. Deer can go for older plants, but besides building a fence around 36 inches high as a minimum, you can use this method. (Read Bugs Eating Hostas – What to do)
When rabbits, deer, and other pests still find their way around your pepper plants, you can use this defense spray. Chop a fresh jalapeno pepper and one yellow onion, then place them in a pot.
- Add one tablespoon of dried cayenne hot pepper.
- Add a couple of quarts of tap water.
- Boil the mixture for around 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool.
- Strain through a cheesecloth and then pour into a plastic spray bottle.
- Spray onto the pepper plants. The smell and spicy taste can keep rabbits and deer from eating pepper fruit and foliage. You can use it on your tomato or other plants to be safe.
Make sure to apply every three days or after watering or rain.
Read more: How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes Inside the House.