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 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 might think that your pepper plants are naturally protected from larger pests because of the capsaicin content in these fruits. I know I did! But much to my dismay, I found that several animals enjoy eating pepper plants, especially my sweet pepper plants.
What animals eat pepper plants?
But it is also a fact that pepper can be damaged or eaten by numerous types of pests, insects, and animals. In spite of taking due care, these plants can get spoiled just because of this. Now, let us talk about animals that eat and cause harm to these pepper plants.
I have seen many animals, especially smaller-sized pests like aphids, caterpillars, mites, and slugs, that can wreak havoc with your pepper plants. For example, a mite infestation can destroy a healthy and flowering pepper plant.
Name of insects and animals eating pepper plants
Slugs and Snails
This caterpillar is known for eating the fruits and leaves of pepper plants.
A tobacco hornworm is a caterpillar that morphs into a moth with a wingspan of four to six inches.
They are light green with spots and strips down their side and are aptly named for their protruding horn on their back end. (This is not a real horn, and these caterpillars are quite harmless.)
Either the tomato hornworm or the tobacco hornworm will feast on your plant and can cause catastrophic damage. They can easily strip all the leaves from a plant overnight, but they will also devour the stem and fruits.
Slugs and Snails
They generally feast on the lower leaves since they cannot climb very well. Again, they are easy to find and handpick.
These crawling invaders are also kept away from the plants by sprinkling diatomaceous earth, laying sandpaper, or placing copper rings around the base of the plants.
Slugs and Snails can also cause a lot of harm to this plant. So, when you notice any slug or snail in your kitchen garden it is time that you do not ignore it. You need to remove it from your garden so that your pepper plants and other plants are safe. For this, you can easily remove them by picking them with your hands. They can be detected as they leave a trail behind them. So, if you can’t see them but if you see the trail as well you need to be extra cautious.
Talk to your local garden center about which kind is most likely in your area. They will most often eat holes in the leaves, but they will also eat the stems and the fruit.
Caterpillar is an herbivorous animal and is found in many gardens. The look of this small animal is such that sometimes it is hard to figure out whether it is sitting on the pepper plant or not. It can cause a lot of damage to your pepper plant. It basically eats leaves but it has also been observed that it can even finish the entire pepper plant overnight. Its presence can be known due to its dropping on the leaves of a pepper plant.
Contrary to popular opinion, insect infestations are not usually a fault of the bugs, but a problem inside the garden. Elliot Coleman calls this type of thinking a “plant-positive” approach instead of an “insect-negative” way of dealing with nature. Most insects are drawn to unbalanced ecosystems where they thrive, and they seek out sick plants that are easily attacked.
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.
If you enjoy gardening, you’ve likely been plagued with squirrels, deer, birds, and other wildlife who’d like to sample your fruits and vegetables.
Squirrels are especially worrisome because they’re small enough to climb through fences and over barriers to enter your garden and dig up your pepper plants.
The primary reason why you should include pepper in your parrot’s diet is that the minerals and vitamin contents help them maintain a shiny coat of feathers.
Chilies have been known to contain nutrients such as vitamin A which helps to improve the quality of a bird’s feathers.
If you have a pet parrot, then you should include peppers in its diet. In the wild, parrots will seek out peppers and consume these as a regular part of their diet.
Chilies contain several vitamins from the B-complex group, including niacin (B3), pyridoxine (B6), riboflavin (B2), and thiamine (vitamin B1).
Rabbits can also destroy the pepper plant completely. The only thing is that it is comparatively easier to notice them. So, if you think that your pepper plants can be damaged by them then you can fix a fence around your plant and save it.
How to protect pepper plant from damage
- Fence. The best way to protect your peppers from animals is a good solid fence. You can build a large fence around your garden, or put a cage around individual plants. Deer will require a very high fence, while rabbits will need a tight fence that goes into the ground.
- Bird Netting. Bird netting can also come in handy but it should be used cautiously. Most bird netting that is readily available is not recommended to use as it will not only keep the birds from getting through, but the birds will easily get entangled, causing injury or death. There are many bird-safe nettings available, however, and hanging deterrents such as metal pie plates, and old CDs.
- Sound Deterrents. Turning on a radio, or noise machines will often keep animals away from your pepper plants. Make sure you mix it up by frequently changing the station, and moving locations or the animals will quickly get used to it.
- Scent Deterrents. There are many natural products available that you can apply to the plants that make them undesirable to animals. Ironically, sprinkling ground hot peppers or hot sauce will also keep them away. Make sure you reapply after rain, and it still won’t stop the animals when they are very hungry.
- Scare Deterrents. For small animals and birds, you can often scare them away. While a scarecrow might do the trick, a plastic owl or hawk sitting on a post will make them think a predator is on the prowl. As with the sound, make sure you move your decoy regularly or the invaders will quickly realize he is a dummy.
Use of insecticide for control of pests
Soil is a collection of living organisms and should be host to countless fungi and bacteria. However, if your soil is becoming infertile or sterile, this is an ideal condition for invasive insects to thrive.
You can add purchased bacteria and fungi to your soil to help rid bad bugs. Adding compost will also help these healthy microbes grow in the soil.
Cut the damaged leaves
If you see a damaged leaf or a diseased plant, remove it from your garden right away. As we mentioned above, insects are drawn to sick plants so removing them from the garden will stop bugs from having an easy meal.
Repott the damaged plants
Use the diatomaceous earth for killing insects
Diatomaceous earth works as an insecticide in two ways: It removes moisture from its habitat, making it difficult or impossible for the insects to remain. When the diatomaceous earth makes direct contact with an insect’s exoskeleton, it dries them out and can kill them.