Common Pests on Chilli Plants
Now that you have your new chilli plants safely in their beds it will just be a matter of months before you can reap your rewards. Generally speaking, chillies are extremely robust and very forgiving. There are, however some nasties that like your chilli plants just as much as you do! In our experience, there are four main bugs that your plants may get.
If you find these on your leaves DON’T PANIC! All these problems are easily treated especially if caught early.
If you notice your lovely new growth is looking curled and deformed when the shoots are still quite small, you almost certainly have Broad mites.
These little critters are a so small they cannot be seen with the naked eye but once you have familiarized yourself with the damage they do to the leaf you will be able to spot it straight away.
Mancozeb or similar will get rid of these guys if yours is a minor problem. The spray can’t hurt the plant so don’t hold back! Make sure you get underneath the leaves too. We spray our plants every second day for 6 days then leave them for 10 days and repeat purely as a preventative measure. Be warned! After a while they will build up a resistance to the active ingredient (sulphur). If you are in a “high mite” area you will need to alternate products. If you can find a product with ‘Dicofol’ as the active constituent it will knock them out although not everyone likes to use these hardcore miticides. If you are a green gardener you can use a “Natrasoap” product. Just remember to alternate a bit!
If you have what you think may be a terminal case, don’t give up! As I mentioned before, chillies are very hardy and we have often pruned the plants down to about one third if their size!
It may look like a pot of dirt with a stick in it now but chances are it will spring back to life in no time.
While you are sitting next to your chilli plant, gazing adoringly at those cute little pods, you may give it a little shake and tiny white moths appear out of nowhere! They are from the underside of the leaf actually and, congratulations, you have White fly!
Don’t worry it’s not as bad as it sounds.
The tiny white moth and its larvae are both sap suckers and if not treated can severely weaken your plant.
White Oil is the ideal way to treat these.
Try not to spray in the heat of the day. If some leaves are really bad simply pull them of and dispose of them.
White oil is not systemic so you may need to spray more than once.
Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects, which are usually 2 – 4 mm long. You will usually find them underneath older leaves. Look out for natural predators such as ladybirds and parasitic wasps.
These are your comrades and they love to eat Aphids! They will help you control these sap- suckers.
Once again, white oil is your big gun although a lot of people will use ‘Confidor’ because it is systemic.
So here you are. The Grand Finale! Your long awaited chilli pods are weighing down the bush. Your lips are burning with anticipation. If you have done the hard yards you have wiped out the White fly, managed the Mites and eradicated Aphids… You’re thinking to yourself “That’s a good crop, I’ll pick on the weekend” Saturday morning you whistle your way to your chilli bush ready to fill your bucket.
Picking your first lovely pod you notice it has a spot that is a bit rotten looking.
Oh wait, there is another, and another. No way…omg, OMG, OMG!!!! Your beloved chillies are ruined and you have Fruit fly.
Fruit fly is probably the most devastating pest of all because by the time you get them you have done all the hard work.
They lay their eggs in your pods and the hatched maggots eat away at them. Some say it also affects the viability of the seeds too. Prevention is the only cure.
Don’t rush into it straight away though unless you are in a well known Fruit Fly area.
We have never had a problem with them and don’t take any measures against them even though they can be devastating in the next suburb!
Most people don’t like to use pesticides unless they have to. If you do need to, use a systemic pesticide such as Malathion as per the instructions on the label.
Just remember to pick what you can before you spray because there is a withholding period. Check the pesticide label.
You can also get some fruit fly traps and hang them around the yard. You will be amazed at how many you catch!