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Aphids On Pepper Plants – How To Treat And Prevent

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.

Aphids on Pepper Leaves
Aphids on Pepper Plant Leaves.

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!

How To Get Rid Of Aphids (Video):

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.
Aphids on peppers
Aphids on Pepper Fruit.

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.

Do not spray your neem oil in the middle of the day when the sun is a threat. Spraying neem oil under intense sunlight 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, clear 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 Tablespoons of Dr. Bronners Castile soap to 1 gallon of water. If your garden is smaller, you can scale this recipe down.

4. Ladybugs

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.

Green Thumb Nursery

Arbico Organics

Amazon

* 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 or using an alternative method.

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 will help control aphids. Consider planting some of the following companion plants in your garden:

  • Catnip
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Chive
  • Mint
  • Marigold
  • Sunflowers

Homemade Aphid Spray

You can scale this recipe if you have a smaller garden and use a standard spray bottle.

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

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.


Heather

Saturday 2nd of April 2022

Thank you! We had no problems with aphids until we moved the plants indoor for the winter. I wanted ladybugs but hubby didn’t think that would be a good idea indoors 😅. I thought it would be fun. Maybe this year we can agree on a natural treatment that doesn’t fly around the living room.

peppergeek

Saturday 2nd of April 2022

Haha! Yep, we definitely have ladybugs flying around indoors, but they're harmless. Unfortunately we don't have enough to control an infestation if it happened. Thankfully outdoors the problems usually correct themselves

Robert

Wednesday 27th of October 2021

Looking forward to germinating 50-60 pepper plants this January. I was planning on keeping them in a 4x4x7 grow tent until ready for transplant to their final destination containers from their 4" transition pots. My issue is APHIDS getting into my tent. Currently it is located in a great room close to windows and sliding glass doors that remain slightly open for dog entry/exit. I had such a terrible battle with Aphid control indoors this year and finally only when plants are put outside does the problem diminish. I'm just worried that Aphids will destroy all of my 50-60 seedlings this coming January or February before the final frost comes in mid March. I'm fairly new to the grow tents and I am only planning on tenting them until I can transplant them into their final sized containers for outside growing. Should I move the tent to a spare bedroom far away from any other open windows? That spare room has only 1 window that will be sealed off and used for the exhaust fan port. (The open windows in the great room are where I think Aphids are being introduced into the tent?) Or, should I plant companion plants(suggestions appreciated) and keep them in grow tent along with the growing seedlings? Sticky traps? Neem Oil? Diatomaceous Earth? I have tried peppermint Castile soap mixtures, but that only works for a few days and then the critters are back in full force. I'm at my wits end with these little menaces and would appreciate any recommendations to help me with my seedlings next year. I live in Central California around the Santa Maria area, so the growing season goes from mid March to the first week in November.

HELP!

Robert

James

Friday 15th of October 2021

Seem unable to post comment? tried twice. Comments locked?

James

Thursday 21st of October 2021

@peppergeek,

No problem. I didnt receive any email or indicaition that it was "pending" or awaiting moderation. It just disappeared after I submitted so I went "UH OH"

James

peppergeek

Sunday 17th of October 2021

Hi James - just goes through an approval process first to keep spam to a minimum

James

Thursday 14th of October 2021

Trying the Neem oil solution with a paintbrush on 9-12 various hot peppers brought in from outside. All under grow lights currently.

Been trimming off any extra foliage that is damaged. Also, a bit of pruning to shorten the plant and make it bushier. Plants were transplanted in about a month ago from outside. When transplanting they got all of their soil changed completely and the plant entirely sprayed off. Moved in to 3 & 5 gallon pots indoors. Outsite temp when transplanting was around 18c daytime. Inside temp is about 22c. Plants all got a bit upset and looked sad for a while then perked back up. Some shed a fair amount of leaves but literally are exploding with new growth from all their nodes.

So far the happiest ones are Trinidad Scorpions, Carolina reapers, shishitos, atomic and the jalepeno.

All of them have new pepper flowers and buds. Any peppers left on have ripened and been harvested.

Will update this later with progress.

Only other issue any of the plants have is fungus gnats. Have been combatting that with H2O2 solution and spraying down the top of the soil. Hasnt eliminated them but drastically cut them down.

Will read up on using neem oil solution to kill the fungus gnat larva in the soil.

If pepper geek has any tricks with the god awful fungus gnats please advise!

Cheers from Canada,

James

James

Saturday 1st of January 2022

@peppergeek,

Long and the short of it. It worked!

Plants are again happy. A few of them lots most of their leaves but are have been returning. More than a few are growing peppers currently.

So change the soil from Miracle Grow Moisture Control to PROMIX HP Mix. That helped a lot. Its much easier to control watering with the HP mix.

For the fungus gnats I used Mosquito Dunks, I would have gotten mosquito bits but appartenly you cant in Canada. Break apart about 1/5-1/4 of a mosquito dunk (grind it up with a fork) then put in a gallon of water overnight. Water plants as normal. The BTI that attacks mosquito larva also attacks fungus gnat larva. Harmless to humans & Pets. https://www.cdc.gov/zika/pdfs/bti_fact_sheet.pdf After a week or so it decimated the fungus gnat populations. In order to rid the flying ones I just put some standard yellow sticky cards. After a while I have been back to watering with regular tap water. One problem solved!

Next was the Aphids. They are certainly a persistent pest. Originally, I was using Neem oil and a few drops of dish soap. I found that the degreasers in most dish soap will strip the protective wax off the plant leaves and cause them to burn within a week. I have since switched to castille soap. The same that you mention above but its the Tea Tree Oil version. So far so good and I have noticed VERY little aphids at this time. A spray once a week or so definitely keeps them at bay. I will try out Neem Oil and Castille soap mixture on my next spray.

Going to start up some new seeds in the next few days. My indoor lettuce crop is finally starting to bolt and go bitter.

-James

peppergeek

Sunday 17th of October 2021

Hey James, fungus gnats lay their eggs in soil. Some of our readers have recommended putting a 1" layer of sand on the surface of the soil of indoor potted plants to suppress the population. You can also dunk the soil+roots in water with insecticidal soap to kill off eggs and insects.

Becky Peterson

Saturday 3rd of July 2021

Question: 1) should you harvest when you think the pepper is ripe or leave it on the plant? 2) keep picked/harvested pepper at room temp or refrigerate? 3) best way to keep pepper fresh

peppergeek

Wednesday 14th of July 2021

Yes you should pick ripe peppers whenever they are ready. We keep ours in the fridge if we plan to use them within about 1 week, or freeze them for long term storage.