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Aphids On Pepper Plants – How To Treat And Prevent

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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.

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, aphids 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 incredibly quickly. If you suspect you have aphids on your pepper plants, you’ll want to act fast!

Aphids on Pepper Leaves
Aphids on Pepper Plant Leaves.

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 most 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, often hiding underneath newly formed leaves. Green aphids, the type we personally deal with most, 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 your 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, younger 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 a single insect, you’ll want to take action to control them. We recommend starting with natural methods, and only using insecticide when absolutely necessary. Here are some of the best ways to get rid of aphids on your pepper plants.

How To Get Rid Of Aphids (Video):

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. Remember, aphids don’t jump, and most don’t fly.

You’ll want to use your thumb over the front of the hose to create adequate pressure to knock them off. Starting from the top, 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. Natural Predators

Ladybugs eat aphids, so we’re very happy when we see them on our pepper plants. But, there are many other beneficial insects that are more effective against aphids. Green lacewing eggs can be purchased for your garden. They’ll hatch, find your aphids, and have themselves a feast.

We don’t recommend purchasing ladybugs for your garden. It’s much better to attract native ladybugs with flowers, water, or even a ladybug house.

Predatory insects are the most natural solution for aphids and other pests in your garden. Plant alyssum to attract parasitic wasps and other beneficial to your garden to keep populations in balance.

Here are a few places you can buy beneficial insects online:

* Alternatively, you may want to consider green lacewings for aphid control.

Attract the predators naturally

Instead of buying live insects, why not attract them to your garden? Using flowers and other pepper companion plants, you can bring in lots of native insects that love to feast on aphids. Our quick tip is to plant lots of alyssum and other flowers nearby your garden.

3. Insecticidal Soap

If your aphid problem is indoors, or if the infestation is out of control, you may need to turn to spraying. One of the easiest and safest products for your plants is insecticidal soap.

These soaps usually come in a concentrated form that is then diluted with water. Then, it can be sprayed onto affected parts of the plants.

Keep in mind, it is still a good idea to start by knocking aphids off your plant and using natural control methods first. Then, you can spray selectively to get rid of any remaining aphids on your peppers.

Follow the directions on the soap you purchase to determine frequency of application. Also, avoid spraying your plants in excessive heat or when the sun is strongest. We like to spray in the evening.

4. 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.

You can create a solution of neem oil, castile soap, and water. Do not use Dawn dish soap or any harsh detergents on your plants. If you wish to make your own solution, Dr. Bronners Castile soap is a good option. 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.

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 next year’s garden. There are many herbs and flowers that will help keep the aphids under control. Consider planting some of the following companion plants in your garden:

  • Alyssum
  • Catnip
  • Chives, onions, and garlic
  • Mint
  • Marigold
  • Sunflowers

Homemade Aphid Spray

You can scale this recipe if you have a smaller garden and use a standard spray bottle. Remember, this spray may harm beneficial insects, too. Only spray insecticides as a last resort.

Shake vigorously before each application.

If you’ve ever had an aphid infestation, you know how serious the issue can become. These pests are relentless. The key to 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.


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39 Comments

  1. Hello, I live in north Florida and I’ve been growing a few varieties of hot peppers for around 10 years now. Datil peppers and red habaneros are my main focus. For some reason last year was a terrible season for me. It was by far the worst year since I started growing. I still have 2 of the plants and they are doing well this year. I could not figure out why I had such a bad year. I didn’t do anything different then I ever have. I’m interested in your thought for what it might have been. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the wealth of information you provide and I’m happy to be a subscriber and help support your business. I’ve learned a lot so far on my first day of reading the info you have available. I saw a spray at the garden center that is supposed to produce more flowers on pepper plants if you aren’t getting many. It was called something like pepper set spray or whatever. Do you know if this works well or not? Lastly, can you do anything to get the most heat possible out of what you grow? If that makes sense. I’ve had some datils that a friend grew and they seemed quite hotter than mine, is there anything I can do to maximize the heat in my peppers? Thank you for everything you do. I’m very pleased to have such a great resource available to me.
    Sincerely, Jason C.

    1. Hi Jason, thanks for commenting and being a supporter of our work! As for your plants, I have to say that each year can be quite different from the last in my experience. The weather conditions, rainfall amounts, etc. are all out of our control and can have an impact on pepper plant growth and productivity. As for things you can do about it, I might suggest getting a soil test to make sure that you are not under-fertilizing, or over-feeding a certain nutrient. For potted plants, nutrients can also buildup in re-used soil and require flushing to sort of re-set the soil medium. This is less of an issue with organic-based fertilizers. As for growing hotter peppers, we have an article about this topic here. Not a whole lot you can do other than keeping the plants happy and healthy, and a few other things we outline in the article. All the best this season!

  2. I received an email pointing to this article at a perfect time, thank you. My 2-year old Chile de Arbol looks like it weathered a plague. I think I nuked 99% of the aphids but there are some persistent suckers. Neem oil next. I hope it grows some foliage again. Fruit are still ripening…

  3. I intend to start foliar feeding my pepper plants. Will using a neem oil spray to control aphids cause any problems with the plants absorbing the foliar nutrients?

  4. I have aphids on my pepper plants…only two plants. I used some potting soil from last year. Could the potting soil I grew plants in last year be a reason I have aphids this year, using last years soil mix. I live in WY and 4 yrs of planting peppers, I have never had aphids.

    1. They usually fly in where we are located, so nothing to do with the soil. If you brought the soil inside and you have aphids indoors, then it is most likely the soil.

  5. There is only one organic solution that will immediately and easily get rid of aphids with extremely good results, and that is azamax. One or two applications max before the infestation is completely gone. This stuff works wonders! I’ve used it successfully to defeat aphids, trips, fungus gnats, and spider mites. I can’t recommend it enough! It is OMRI certified organic and uses the same active ingredient as neem oil, azadirachtin. Seriously, this stuff works absolute wonders. It brought my indoor pepper plants from months of zero production to booming with peppers only 2-3 weeks after first spraying. It is more expensive than most, that’s the only downside. 100% worth it though!

    1. @Petar Marinov, can you please give me the exact name of the product you use and where it can be ordered from. I had a problem with fungus gnats last year indoors and want to prevent it with my overwintering of plants this year. I have learned several tips I didn’t know last year but I still have them in my house and I tried many things to kill them off. It would be greatly appreciated to know specifically what you use.

  6. 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.

    1. 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

  7. 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

    1. @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

  8. 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

    1. 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.

    2. @peppergeek,
      Hi Peppergeek,

      Thanks for the reply.

      After second spraying of neem oil on the leaves a couple days ago I have only found a single aphid, which i think was dead. Excellent. I will keep an eye on it to make sure.

      Tried the Neem oil solution drench into the soil. It cleared the fungus gnats up.. for about a day. I think it did kill the larvae but since the adults were still around they started coming back. I tried putting sand on top of the soil for a while. I saw the fungus gnats digging in it anyway. Also, my cat was eyeing it as their new litterbox. That idea was scrubbed pretty quick 🙂

      I found the soil I used this time is definitely not great. Its Miracle Grow Moisture Control. The gnats likely came from the soil as there are many other complaints regarding this. Its listed as indoor/outdoor potting soil but really its not great. I have seen it hold water (wet to the touch) on the surface for weeks with no indication of drying out. I have been watching the pepper plants and they are showing slight signs of leaf curl, likely due to “overwatering”. The plants themselves are looking quite healthy under their lights.

      For my next attack on the fungus gnats I am buying a giant bag of Pro-Mix HP https://www.pthorticulture.com/en/products/pro-mix-hp-mycorrhizae/ and switching all the soil over to that. I spoke with my local hydroponic/growing store and they said that it drains out very quickly. I am also going to be watering with Mosquito Dunks. Lovely bacteria that feeds on mosquito larvae, and fungus gnat larvae. There will also be large flying bug sticky traps next to each plant, just above the surface of the soil.

      I will post again at the results.

      Thanks again!

      James

    3. @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

  9. 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

  10. I had aphids and now the leaves on my pepper plants are getting black spots turning yellow and falling off. Any suggestions?

    1. Had aphids? They are pretty tough to get rid of fully, so they are likely still causing damage. I would keep on top of spraying with the neem oil/water solution and try to attract ladybugs to eat them up and keep them under control.

  11. Hello, first time pepper grower here! I have small seed looking things on the bad of my pepper plants. Is this normal? Is this bad? What should I do? Thanks!

  12. We actually seem to have them on our seedlings – inside our house under our grow light! How in the world?!? This is our first year growing from seeds and don’t know how they could have found the plants inside our house in the basement. Any insight?

    1. Oof that is rough. It could be from eggs in the soil you are using to grow the seedlings. If you want, you can try doing a soapy water dunk to get rid of them, but I would test it first on 1-2 plants before doing all. I use a large pot of water with about 1 tsp of Castile soap mixed in. Submerge the plants in the water for 10-15 minutes. Then, skim off the surface to remove any floating aphids that remain, and remove the plants and allow them to drain. It is slightly traumatic, especially for a young plant, but they should live through it.

      Hope the problem resolves!

    2. I I have same problem on my seedlings growing under the lights. Google edema… caused from over watering.

  13. Check your sources on mint and marigolds. They attract aphids they do NOT repel aphids. I have a hard time believing anything else in this article now.

    1. Marigolds attract aphids, but also beneficial insects. The idea is to give the aphids something else to eat other than your veggies, while also attracting ladybugs and other aphid-eaters.

    1. I first tried Sevin, but it did not work at all. The bottle I have is several years old but stored in the house. I then used Malathion and it worked great to kill every last aphid. But now the plants look horrible. Leaves are browning on the ends and curling up? I’ve been aphid-free for several weeks, but plants not looking any better. Will they recover soon?

  14. I have had good success combining Neem oil and diatomaceous earth in a water-based spray. The solution dries out on the plant after awhile and the DE in the solution leaves a white chalky residue on the plants.

    The Recipe: For each 1 gallon of water, mix
    1/4 cup of Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
    2 Tbsp Neem Oil

    Mix thoroughly in a pump sprayer to apply to your plants. Be sure to spray the underside of the leaves to ensure full coverage. Use within a week or so as the Neem oil loses its effectiveness over time. I always shake the sprayer well to get the DE back into solution as it tends to settle out.

    1. Unfortunately, aphids are tiny and reproduce very quickly. You can remove dead leaves that are heavily damaged, but you’ll want to treat the aphids appropriately so they won’t reproduce.

  15. Mint does not deter them, I have had to remove mint plants from indoors that were covered in aphids.

    1. I was really hoping mint would work. It’s supposed to deter ants, so maybe that’s where the idea comes from. Aphids destroyed my chives in past years.

      Perhaps these companion plants only work when other conditions are right. I’ve heard that an excess of nitrogen in the soil attracts them.

      For my outdoor plants like lettuce and such, I’m covering them with lightweight cloth to keep the aphids off. That’s *supposed to* work, but I have no idea how aphids get around.

      1. They’re almost impossible to completely eradicate, but having beneficial insects around helps a LOT. Try to attract some ladybugs by planting things they like (like yarrow, marigolds, tansies, or dill).

  16. I just have a good look every morning and squash any aphids that I see but just last week I noticed that I have a few hover fly larvae that seem to be doing a good job of keeping them under control.

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