What ate the bell pepper plant?

Asked June 11, 2016, 1:46 PM EDT

Overnight something ate the leaves and peppers of our bell pepper plant. The plant was in a pot about 18 inches off the ground. It had a couple 2 to 3 inch peppers. Several other plants were nearby - celery, jalapeno pepper, basil, chives, oregano, aloevera, mint. Only the bell pepper plant was eaten. We found no insects or evidence of anything else except on top of the potting soil were numerous small "droppings". I collected a few and washed off the potting soil. They appear similar to a piece of an immature berry, e.g., black berry, mulberry and are pale green in color. There is a blue berry plant in our yard which may also have had some of its berries eaten. We also have tomato plants, but no sign of any Tomato Hornworms. There are cottontail rabbits and squirrels in our neighborhood - though the area is enclosed with block fence, probably eliminating rabbits. I'm stumped. What ate our bell pepper plant? Insect? Bird? Animal?

Maricopa County Arizona gardening bell pepper plant horn worms vegetable gardening

1 Response

Those are most certainly caterpillar droppings. Without a doubt and a big one too. It probably filled its belly really well before it decided to start its transition into a butterfly or moth. If it was a hornworm (and the dropping certainly look like it), dig into the soil of the pot and you may find the pupae.

If you keep the seedlings watered, they may surprise you and leaf out again.

Best regards,