Pepper plant damaged leaves

Asked July 17, 2017, 8:52 PM EDT

I have a number of pepper plants and most leaves on all of them are damaged. Any remedy please?

Wayne County Michigan

7 Responses

Clean ragged edges on leaves are caused by a few things.
1. Rabbits, or deer
2. Caterpillars, or beetles
3. Wind
4. Hail

Can't help wind and hail too much, but wind damage can be reduced by the places where they are planted. Dear and rabbits are out in evening and early morning. You can go out and check for them, but they may run away before you get to see them. Look for their poo pellets. Beetles and caterpillars won't move a whole lot, and you stand a chance of seeing them. You can also look for their poo pellets, but it will be smaller. This looks like a classic case of tomato hornworm feeding. Here is a good picture of a hornworm caterpillar and hand grenade-shaped frass (poo):

For a garden planting, hornworm management requires looking, picking, and stomping on the ground. Or, they also make excellent chicken feed.

Thank you - we can also eliminate deer, not in my area. - there are no sprays I can use to deter them?

There are a lot of homegrown deer deterrents, such as human hair, dog hair, soap. There are also commercially available sprays made from predator urine, and blood. Nothing works for long though. Tall and complete fencing is the only true way to block deer. Some shorter electric fence designs can also deter them.

Hi again. I do NOT have deer. Is there an insect repellent spray?

There are more heavy-hitting agricultural-use products that require a certification to buy and use. However, you have not identified yourself as a commercial grower, so I'm recommending homeowner products.

I do not know of any repellents. I know that Bt is a stomach poison that works well on caterpillars specifically. So bees are unaffected by it. Carbaryl and permethrin are common general insect killers in hardware stores. They can kill most bugs that contact it, including bees. So, spray it in the evening. However, picking the caterpillars off of plants and squishing them will be the most economical option if you have time, and few plants. If you're already out weeding or picking fruit, it just becomes a part of that.

Hi again Mr Phillips. I've looked at different times of the day, no caterpillars nor droppings. Since it's not deer, can I narrow it down to either rabbits, or, some insect? Time to put up a fence?

If damage continues, then consider fencing. The damaged leaves will not repair themselves. However, they will put out new leaves. What you want to see are new leaves that look good, and no further damage to old or new growth.

Here is a basic but effective rabbit fence description:

Here is a great resource about deer fencing: