Growing peppers in your garden can be extremely rewarding, but only if you protect them from animals that eat them. These animals are a menace and can be discouraging to any pepper gardener looking forward to healthy produce.
You may have been a victim of their wrath already or could become one. Let’s learn more about these animals and how you could get rid of them.
More About Peppers
Peppers come in various colors and are easy to maintain. They are sweet and spicy, adding flavor to your diet while being nutrient-packed.
Growing them is pretty straightforward, and no particular expertise is required. However, as we said earlier, you need to eliminate any external threats, such as pests or rodents that feed on them.
What Animals Eat Pepper Plants?
Here is a list of animals you want to watch for the next time you spot damaged or eaten pepper plants in your garden.
1. Slugs And Snails
Slugs and Snails are common in gardens, and you must have spotted them already. They target the leaves of pepper and the ripening fruits.
Slugs are more active at night and during the rainy season. They tear your pepper plants apart, leaving irregular holes on young and tender lower leaves.
However, they can also crawl up the plant and feed on the upper leaves. The scent of ripening fruits usually attracts them to your garden.
Get rid of snails and slugs by following our thorough guide.
Squirrels do not eat the leaves of pepper plants but will burrow down and munch their roots. Moreover, they would rather steal your produce than chew it straight of.
An effective repellent to use against squirrels is capsaicin. It’s a compound found in pepper and is responsible for its spicy nature. Squirrels won’t dare approach a pepper garden sprayed with it.
Your pepper is still safe for consumption since capsaicin is harmless to humans.
You could also sprinkle spicy pepper seeds around your plant. Squirrels are likely to run away after tasting the spicy seeds.
Caterpillars are amongst the most destructive insects on your pepper plants. They usually feed on the plant leaves but can also finish an entire plant overnight if given a chance.
Caterpillars are herbivorous and typically green, making them easily camouflage with plants. However, you will know their presence by their droppings on the plant leaves.
Use natural predators such as birds to feed on the caterpillars— attract them to your yard using bird feeders.
You could also use liquid soap to get rid of the insects.
4. White Flies
You can’t leave out whiteflies when it comes to the list of animals that eat peppers. They are harmful insects that cause damage to your plants in multiple ways.
To find out their presence, shake the plant vigorously. You should see white insects coming out and flying away.
The insects are small and appear triangular. They damage your pepper by sucking up the juices using their piercing mouthparts.
This is followed by the production of a white substance called honeydew. Under a severe infestation, your pepper grows weak and begins to wilt.
Their leaves turn yellow due to interference with photosynthesis, ultimately leading to stunted growth.
Get rid of whiteflies by regularly shaking up your pepper plants. You could also eliminate them by spraying insecticidal soap.
Unless you intend to feed rabbits with pepper, you don’t want to have them around. They find bell pepper fruits tasty and will eat them to the fill. Luckily, it’s easy to spot them.
Keep them off your yard by sealing their entry points around the perimeter of your garden and putting up fences.
Like rabbits, deer also eat pepper and many other vegetables within the garden. They have the potential to obliterate your pepper plants.
One way to deter deer and rabbits is to use the defense spray.
Here is how to prepare the defense spray step-by-step:
- Cut a fresh jalapeno pepper and yellow onions into small pieces and place them in a container.
- To the above mix, add some hot cayenne pepper powder— ideally one tablespoon.
- Add about half a gallon of water.
- Place the mixture on heat and let it boil for 20 minutes
- Remove it from heat and give it time to cool.
- Strain the solution through a cheesecloth and empty it into an empty plastic bottle.
- Spray your pepper plants. The solution makes your peppers smelly and spicy, preventing rabbits and deer from approaching them.
Hornworms are typically associated with tomato plants, but they do feed on pepper. They look like green caterpillars with white stripes and characteristic black horns protruding from their ends.
You can easily spot them because of their size.
Control them by simply handpicking them from your peppers.
Other worms that could also be a threat include Cutworms, Armyworms, and fruit worms. They all feed on different parts of the pepper plant.
Cutworms feed on young seedlings, while the Armyworms and Fruitworms enjoy feeding on tender pepper pods and munching the leaves.
8. Pepper Weevils
Pepper weevils are small insects with hard bodies and elongated snouts—both the larvae and the adults feed on pepper plants.
They target the leaves and flowers of pepper plants by eating them and causing damage. The larvae typically damage the fruits.
Control pepper weevils by identifying and discarding affected pepper fruits from your garden.
You could also deploy insecticides such as Neonicotinoids Belay or Actara.
Thrips are insects that feed on the flowers and leaves of pepper. Their infestation is not easy to spot, and the longer they hang around, the more damage they cause.
Some of their ill effects include distorted growth, flower deformation, and the occurrence of silvery patches on emerging leaves. Eliminate the thrips of your pepper using an organic spray.
Birds also love the taste of small sweet peppers and, of course, any other plants in your yard. You can control them by creating chicken wire coverings around your plants and using this handy guide.
11. Tree Shrews
According to a new study by National Geographic, Chinese tree shrews have a genetic mutation that allows them to feed on spicy foods without discomfort.
No wonder pepper is pretty high on their favorite food list.
Pepper plants are easy to grow and have no high maintenance costs. However, as much as you love them as an addition to your culinary dishes, some animals love them too.
That’s why you are better off knowing these animals and how to get rid of them. We hope this article helps you keep your pepper plants safe.
Job Kiniale is a certified crop scientist and gardening enthusiast with a passion to help beginning gardeners navigate their newfound hobby. Let’s talk about plants, backyard ideas, and general gardening advice. Outside work, Job loves spending time with family.