Diagnosing the cause of holes in your pepper plant depends largely on where the holes are located and the type of damage that is being done. Certain pests will attack different parts of the plant --- often the leaves or the pod. The stage of growth of your pepper plant can also aid in the diagnosis, as there are some pests that prefer younger rather than mature pepper plants. A natural pesticide can control or get rid of a pest invasion.
Aphids can be very damaging to pepper plants. They adhere to the bottom of the pepper plant leaf. They cause damage by sucking on the sap of the plant, causing the leaf to yellow, wilt, develop holes and eventually die. Aphids will also secret a honeydewlike substance that is very sticky. This substance can help transfer bacteria from the bugs to the plant and also encourages the development of mold. Aphids can be washed away or treated with a natural pesticide.
Flea beetles prefer younger rather than older pepper plants. They attack the leaves of the pepper plant, creating small holes throughout many different leaves. Flea beetles are easy to identify despite their small size, because they will jump when they have been disturbed. Spraying the pepper plant with a mixture of dish soap and water will make the plant unpalatable to flea beetles.
Cutworms attack very young pepper plants, often preferring seedlings to even young pepper plants that have not begun to fruit. Cutworms will quickly devour an entire seedling if the problem is left untreated. They are especially difficult if you are direct seeding your pepper plants in your garden, as there is greater opportunity for them to cause damage. Treating cutworms with a natural pesticide as soon as they appear will help keep the problem under control.
Corn borers attack the pods of the pepper plant, often beginning from the inside of the plant. They can quickly cause a lot of damage to a single pepper or to a large number of pepper plants. Corn borers are caterpillarlike in appearance, and can be removed by hand or by a natural pesticide. Ladybugs are natural predators of corn borer eggs and will eat corn borer eggs before they have a chance to hatch.
- North Carolina State University: Pests of Peppers
- Gardening Know How; Common Pepper Pests; by Nikki Phipps
- Gardening Know How; What is Eating My Peppers?; by Kathleen Mierzejewski
- University of Illinois Extension: Watch Your Garden Grow: Peppers
- Colorado State University Extension; Flea Beetles; by W.S. Cranshaw; 2006
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