Aphids on pepper plants

Pepper, bell   

My pepper plants had an aphid infestation and some of the leaves were so badly damaged that they turned brown and died.One of the fruits that was developing also turned brown and died. The plant currently has another 3 fruits on but the plant is struggling. Is this plant likely to survive or should I pull it and get on with planting something else?

Posted by: Pamela Croft (1 point) Pamela Croft
Posted: August 13, 2013

deactivated commented,
Can you provide images? Not only will it help your case, but it will help all those who will come to this page in the future. Thanks
over 7 years ago.


It sounds like the infestation is very heavy. You can try spraying the plant with dilute soapy water (just dish soap), which will make it more difficult for them to feed. If you see discoloration other than leaf drying/death, then you may have a virus. Aphids transmit viruses to many different plants and these show up as leaf distortions, discolorations, or dwarfing of the plants. Aphids also poop out a sugary solution that can build up on plants and serve as a food source for other pathogens. Although aphids do not chew on the plants and cause damage in that way, the fungi that live on their poop can possibly cause issue for the plant down the road, mostly by covering the surface and inhibiting light from reaching the plant. I would expect that some plant pathogenic fungi or bacteria may also get a leg up from the nutrients in the aphid poop.

You can also go in and squish all the aphids that you find on the pepper plant. They are easily crushed without harming the leaves. Crushing them also releases beta-farnesene, a chemical that they emit as an alarm pheromone when disturbed to alert their kin nearby of the presence of a predator. This volatile cue will then attract beneficial insects to the pepper plant (ladybugs, syrphid flies, lacewings, etc), which will help control the infestation.

Posted by: Kerry Mauck (58 points) Kerry Mauck
Posted: August 13, 2013

David Hughes commented,
I like that squishing part to signal to predators of the aphids.
over 7 years ago.

Well, it depends. Are you seeing mottling (yellowish patterns or spots) and puckering or deformity of the leaves? If so, the aphids may have infected the plant with a virus. Also, feeding wounds can serve as entry points for bacterial and fungal pathogens that can cause the browning. If you have an iphone or ipad, you can try out the new diagnostic plant sample submission app that just became available at the app store. My diagnostic lab at UConn participates but you may want to select a different lab depending on where you live. Eight university labs are participating. Search for 'plant sample submission'.

Posted by: Joan Allen (4 points) Joan Allen
Posted: August 13, 2013

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