rotting pepper
PHOTOGRAPH BY BALLYSCANLON/GETTY

The 10 Pests + Diseases Most Likely To Afflict Peppers

Here's what you want to watch out for in your plot.

August 21, 2015

Blister Beetles

blister beetle
PHOTOGRAPH BY SARA MURRAY/FLICKR

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This striped beetle is both friend and foe; adults feed on pepper plants and other vegetables, but their larvae eat grasshopper eggs. Knock adults from plants into soapy water, but wear gloves because contact with crushed beetles blisters skin.

Cutworms

Cutworm
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY USGS BEE INVENTORY AND MONITORING LAB

The nocturnal cutworm caterpillar attacks plants by curling around seedling stems and eating through them. Use cutworm collars and apply beneficial nematodes to the soil.

Tomato Hornworms

Tomato hornworm
PHOTOGRAPH BY SCOT NELSON/FLICKR

The bright green larvae of this moth species chew large holes in leaves and may completely strip young plants. Handpick caterpillars and then drop them into soapy water.

Pepper Weevils

Pepper weevil
PHOTOGRAPH BY ALTON SPARKS/WIKIMEDIA

These ¼-inch-long, dark gray insects lay eggs in pepper buds or fruits. The larvae leave dark cavities in the spongy inner tissues of pepper fruits. Invite natural predators such as birds and wasps to dine on these pests.

Root-Knot Nematodes

nematodes next to an eyelash
PHOTOGRAPH BY SCOT NELSON/FLICKR

Microscopic soil-dwelling worms cause plants to wilt and lack vigor. To eradicate nematodes, grow a cover crop of marigolds or rye in infested areas and turn.

Blossom-end rot

Blossom end rot
PHOTOGRAPH BY A13EAN/WIKIMEDIA

A lack of calcium leads to the development of this disorder, which creates dark brown or black spots on the bottoms of immature fruits. Keep plants evenly watered to ensure a steady flow of calcium to the plant, especially while fruit is forming.

Damping-Off
Seedlings that suddenly fall over and rot are most likely affected by damping-off. Prevent this problem by keeping the soil in which seedlings grow slightly dry and by not over watering.

Bacterial Spot

leafspot
PHOTOGRAPH BY SCOT NELSON/FLICKR

This bacterial disease causes purplish gray spots on upper sides of leaves and raised ones on the backs of leaves. Pull up and dispose of infected plants.

Viruses
Mosaic is the most serious viral disease for peppers. Leaves become narrow and thickened, and they appear stringy. Pull and dispose of severely affected plants.

Southern Blight

southern blight
PHOTOGRAPH BY CIMMYT/FLICKR

This fungal disease is most common in warmer climates. Mulch with compost after planting peppers, and rotate plants to avoid planting peppers in the same plot 2 years in a row.