Aphids are definitely one insect you’ll want to keep far away from your pepper plants. There are thousands of different aphid species around the world, and you’ll find them in a variety of climates.
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These pests attach themselves to the leaves of your pepper plants and suck the sap right out. Because they’re drinking all the sugary juices from the leaves, they end up excreting a sticky substance called “honeydew.” Ants feed on the honeydew substance that aphids produce, making for a viscous gardening cycle.
Most aphids are born pregnant, so they multiply quickly. If you suspect you have aphids on your pepper plants, you’ll want to act fast!
What Do Aphids Look Like?
These pests come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. This can make them difficult to identify. Their soft bodies are pear-shaped and often range from light green to dark brown. Aphids have long antennae and many have short cornicles extending from their behind.
You won’t see aphids jumping or hopping, but sometimes they may fly or drift in the wind. You’ll often find them in groups or hiding in curled leaves. Some green aphids camouflage themselves incredibly well!
If you’re having trouble identifying aphids on your pepper plant, try capturing some in a small plastic bag and consulting your local nursery. You can also use an insect identifier app.
Here are a few tips to spot aphids on pepper plants:
- Look at leaves from below. Viewing your plant’s leaves against the light can make aphids cast a shadow, making them easier to spot. If you can, hold you plant up to the sky and view the leaves from below.
- Look for small, dark spots along the leaf veins. As the aphids suck the sap out of your pepper plants, the affected areas will turn dark.
- Focus on new growth. Focus on the smaller leaves of your pepper plants. Aphids are more attracted to new leafy growth than older, larger leaves. They tend to feed on the young leaves and will gather around them.
How To Get Rid Of Aphids On Pepper Plants
Whether you’ve found a cluster of aphids or one insect, you’ll want to take action to control them. In short, you’re going to want to make a mixture of oil, soap, and water and use a spray bottle to apply. Here are some of the best ways to get rid of aphids on your pepper plants.
1. Blast With A Hose
If you’ve found aphids on your pepper plants, one of the easiest ways to remove them before treatment is to simply spray them with a hose. You’ll want to use your thumb over the front of the hose to create an adequate amount of pressure to knock them off. Starting from the bottom, aim the hose toward the underside of your leaves.
You won’t want to do this on any plants that are delicate or not strong enough to handle a blast of water. This is an excellent starting point for removing aphids before using one of the treatment options below. Be sure to let the leaves dry before treating the plants.
2. Neem Oil
One of the most popular treatments for aphids and other common pests is neem oil. If you plan on using this treatment, be sure to buy 100% cold pressed neem oil with azadirachtin.
There are many products on the market that are extracts of neem, and will not be as effective in managing aphids. Neem oil is not an instant fix and will not eradicate aphids immediately. The oil works by starving the aphids and disrupting their natural reproduction cycle.
Note that pure neem oil may solidify at cooler temperatures. It is highly recommended that you make a solution of neem oil, lukewarm water, and a mild soap to emulsify the solution. (We recommend Dr. Bronners soap in peppermint). Shake the solution vigorously before spraying.
Always spray your neem oil in the evening. Spraying neem oil during daylight hours will put your pepper plants at risk of burning. If there are small areas you can’t reach with the spray bottle, you can go over them gently with a Q-Tip. You can also use a soft toothbrush to gently brush delicate leaves.
3. Soapy Water Spray
Our go-to mixture for aphids and other pests is a solution of neem oil, castile soap, and water. Many people use mild dish soap for pest control, but we recommend using Dr. Bronners Castile soap. While the unscented version will work just fine, we like to use the peppermint scent as it naturally deters some other common pests.
The fatty acid in the soap breaks down the waxy coating on the aphids skin and dehydrates them. Our local Trader Joe’s stocks this soap, or you can buy it online.
You can also try using just soap and water at first, then adding neem oil later. Mix 1-2 Tablespoons of Dr. Bronners Castile soap to 1 gallon of water. If your garden is smaller, you can scale this recipe down.
Ladybugs eat aphids, so we’re very happy when we see them on our pepper plants. If your local nursery or farm stand is selling live ladybugs, you’ll want to grab a pack for your garden. These guys aren’t always easy to find in the middle of summer when pests are running rampant.
Ladybugs are the most natural solution for aphids and other pests in your garden. You’ll want to let them loose in the evening to keep them from flying away (though many of them will escape anyways). You can also use a light netting around your pepper plants to keep the ladybugs temporarily contained while they feast on your aphid infestation.
Ladybugs are also attracted to water, so give your pepper plants a light spray before releasing them. We like to keep a couple shallow dishes of water around as well. Here are a few places you can buy ladybugs online.
* If ladybugs are not available, you may also want to consider lacewing larvae for aphid control.
5. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a naturally-occurring sedimentary rock that crumbles into a fine, white powder. This powder destroys the waxy outer layer of the aphids resulting in dehydration. To use diatomaceous earth, you’ll want to dust the leaves on your peppers while they’re still slightly wet. You’ll also want to sprinkle the powder around the base of the plant.
We recommend wearing a mask and glasses when working with diatomaceous earth. The particles are quite fine and may be irritating if they get in your eyes. Repeat the application process every few days, or after any heavy rainfall. You can find a generously sized bag on Amazon.
Diatomaceous earth is harmful to bees. If your aphid infestation is later in the season when bees are prevalent, consider covering your plants with protective netting.
6. Companion Plants
If you’re in the middle of an aphid infestation, companion plants may not help you. However, its great advice for gardening next season. There are many herbs and plants that defer aphids. Consider planting some of the following companion plants in your garden to deter aphids.
Homemade Aphid Spray
You can scale this recipe if you have a smaller garden and use a standard spray bottle.
- 1-2 Tablespoons Dr.Bronners Peppermint Castile Soap
- 1 Tablespoon 100% Pressed Neem oil
- 1 Gallon lukewarm water
Shake vigorously before each application.
If you’ve ever had an aphid infestation you know how serious the issue can be. These pests are relentless. The key in controlling aphids on your pepper plants is to act fast and catch them before they multiply. We hope this article helps guide you on eliminating aphids from your garden. Let us know which solutions have worked for you!
Crystalyn loves spicy food and getting creative in the kitchen. When she isn’t finding new ways to use hot sauce, shes very busy watching cat videos on the internet.