Whatever plant you have, it is likely that you will have to deal with pests at least every so often. They are the scourge of plant owners all over the world! This is certainly the case for pepper plants.
One of the most common pests for the pepper plant is the aphid. This is a pest that you do not want anywhere near your prized pepper plants! They can wreak havoc on your plants as they multiply quickly and can also attract other pests!
In this article, we will be exploring exactly what aphids are, explaining how you can identify them, treat them, and prevent them. So, if you have spotted this pesky pest, or just want to take steps to prevent them, then this is the article for you.
How to identify aphids
So, one of the first things you should know about aphids is the fact that they can vary greatly in terms of appearance. They come in all shapes and sizes, and they even vary in color. This can make it pretty difficult to work out whether you have aphids on your pepper plants.
In general, you should look out for a small insect with a soft pear-shaped body...and when we say small, we mean barely visible! Adult aphids are just under a ¼ of an inch, and the nymphs are even smaller!
They often have long antennas and cornicles at the end of their bodies. In terms of color, they can be anything from light green to dark brown. You may even find some that are white, gray, black, and even pink!
Aphids can often be found huddled up in groups, and they often hide in leaves that have curled up, or underneath leaves. Of course, if the bodies of these aphids are green, then they may be difficult to see as they camouflage well. It is unlikely that you will find them jumping between leaves, but you may well find them flying or drifting between leaves.
As it can be difficult to spot aphids themselves, there are also several other methods you can use to identify aphids. You should look for signs in your pepper plant that they have been there.
Perhaps the best way of identifying aphids is to look for dark spots on the veins of the leaves of your pepper plant. This happens when the aphids feed on the leaves.
You may also be able to spot them by looking for their shadows. To do this, look at the leaves from below by holding the plant up to the light and see if you can spot shadows cast by the aphids.
You are also more likely to spot aphids on new leaves as they prefer them to old leaves. They also prefer smaller leaves, so make sure to check out all signs of new leaf growth on your pepper plant.
What aphids do
You may well be wondering what is actually so bad about these pesky little pests. I mean, they’re tiny little things, so they can’t be all that bad, right? Wrong! Aphids, whatever their shape, size, or color, can wreak havoc on your pepper plants.
Aphids attach themselves to your pepper plants, namely on the leaves, and feast on the sap inside those leaves. This sap is very sugary, meaning that when they suck it all out from the leaves, they create and excrete something called honeydew (no, not the melon!).
This honeydew is a sticky substance that comes out of their bodies. It drips off the leaves and can then attract more pests such as ants. The reason for this is because the ants are attracted to the sweet, sugary substance…. And we don’t need to tell you how bad ants are for your plants!
The attraction of ants to the pepper plants, as well as the aphids, can cause damage to your pepper plants, hence why it is so important to be on the lookout for them. They can distort the growth of your pepper plants, cause mold to grow (because of the excreted honeydew), and make your plants look lackluster and lifeless.
Aphids are born pregnant! This means they can multiply very quickly and you can soon be overrun with them if you do not spot them in enough time. It is, therefore, very important that you check your pepper plants regularly for signs of aphids and follow guidelines for how to get rid of them. Keep on reading to find our next section where we list the best methods for getting rid of and preventing aphids on your pepper plants.
Methods to get rid of and prevent aphids
So, you’ve found some aphids on your pepper plant! Whether you have found whole clusters of them overrunning the leaves of each of your plants, or whether you have just spotted one or two, you will need to take action immediately.
The methods for getting rid of aphids are varied, and it may depend on what you have to hand, or even what the infestation is like. Some of the methods are best used as prevention methods instead. Weigh up the best option for your pepper plants based on the aphid problem at hand.
1. Use neem oil
Neem oil, especially the kind that is 100% cold-pressed and organic with azadirachtin, is an excellent repellent and treatment for aphids. It also works well for getting rid of other pests. It does not halt aphids immediately, but rather it is a gradual process.
What it does is starves the aphids and disrupts their reproduction cycle. As it can solidify at cool temperatures, it is best to make a solution using neem oil and warm water.
Shake the mixture well and spray the neem oil in the evening. This will reduce the chances of your pepper plants burning in the sun
2. Hose them down
Simply spraying your pepper plants with water is a great first port of call. This will get rid of lots of the aphids immediately and can be followed up with any of the other treatments on our list.
Of course, you should bear in mind that you should only do this on pepper plants that will handle a quick blast of water. If they are too delicate you may want to try spraying them with water from a spray bottle rather than a hose.
Ensure the leaves are all left to dry thoroughly before treating them with any of the other methods.
3. Invite ladybugs
Ladybugs are a natural predator for aphids. Attract ladybugs to your pepper plants, or better still, buy some and let nature work its magic.
If you want to help things along you could put a light netting around your pepper plants whilst the ladybugs are feasting on the aphids to ensure they don’t fly away before finishing their aphid feast!
This is a great method to use if you want to avoid any harsh solutions and remain as natural as possible.
4. Other plants
This is far more of a preventative measure than a cure, as this will not work if you are in the midst of an aphid infestation. However, when you plant your pepper plants, consider planting others that can actually help to deter aphids.
Some plants that are particularly good at preventing an aphid infestation include:
Bonus points if you plant onions and garlic alongside your pepper plants….you’ll have the making of many a delicious recipe!
5. Soapy water
Soap is another great option for helping to get rid of aphids, as well as other pests. The soap contains fatty acids that work to break down the skin of the aphid, causing them to dehydrate and die off.
The best choices for soap are Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap or just regular old dish soap. We prefer Dr. Bronners as it is natural and does the job best.
You can get plain unscented, or peppermint which is proven to deter aphids. Simply mix in 1 tablespoon of your chosen soap to a gallon of water and spray your pepper plants!
6. Homemade spray solution
Another option is to create a homemade solution in a spray bottle, pairing some of the methods from our list.
This spray uses Dr. Bronner's Pure Castille soap (the peppermint version works best) and 100% pure neem oil. If you can only get plain unscented soap, you can use this! The neem oil has to be 100% pure!
All you need to do is get a clean, dry spray bottle, 1 gallon of lukewarm water, 2 tablespoons of Dr. Bronner's Pure Castille soap, and 1 tablespoon of the neem oil. Mix it all together and decant it into spray bottles. Shake it well before you spray it.
It can be used whenever you spot an aphid infestation, remembering to check for them regularly. All of the ingredients, as well as the water, can help to get rid of aphids from your plant, as well as deter others from arriving