Black peppers, red peppers, chili peppers, cayenne peppers: they all burn the mouth even as they add excitement and flavor to a meal. The key to this fiery feature is a substance called capsaicin. Insects feel its burn, too, and stay far away, which is good news for the gardener seeking an inexpensive and environmentally friendly do-it-yourself pesticide alternative.
Pepper Dust Ant Barrier
Using a mortar and pestle, grind dried hot peppers to a fine dust. Any hot red pepper, such as cayenne, chili or habanero, will do. Continue until you have enough dust to apply a fine sprinkling along seeded rows of onions, cabbages or carrots in bands at least 6 inches wider than the planting bed. To protect grown plants, sprinkle around the base of the plant for as far out as the leaves spread. Re-apply after a heavy rain or after irrigating.
Protect your skin, eyes and respiratory system while working with peppers and pepper dust. Use gloves, goggles and a breathing mask while crushing the peppers. Wash your hands thoroughly afterwards and avoid rubbing your eyes.
Hot Pepper Spray Insect Repellent
In a blender, combine 2 cups water with six of the hottest peppers you can get your hands on. Mix for a minute or two at high speed. Set the resulting liquid aside for 24 hours. Strain through a cheesecloth or coffee filter into a 1-quart container. Top off the container with water.
Apply a generous mist to all parts of the plants you wish to protect, but avoid spraying on the edible parts unless you like your vegetables spicy. Re-apply every week or two and after each rain. Potato bugs and other pests will go elsewhere for their meals.
Garlic-Pepper Tea Insect Repellent
Combine two bulbs of garlic and two cayenne or habanero peppers in a blender with enough water to liquify. Strain away any remaining solids. Put the liquid into a 1-gallon container and top off with water to make 1 gallon of garlic-pepper tea concentrate. Store concentrate in a plastic container with a loose-fitting lid.
Shake concentrate well, then pour 1/4 cup of it into a gallon of water. Spray this dilution onto any plants you wish to protect.