Aphids are one of the biggest problems that can occur with chilli growing. Although a small number of green or white fly can survive on your chillies without causing to much harm, numbers can quickly get out of hand and a severe infestation can decimate your chilli plants, leaving you with no harvest at all. Once an infestation gets out of hand, there can be thousands of eggs attached to the underside of your leaves, so you can deal with the situation, then three days later have another huge outbreak and so on and so forth.
Aphids can actually be quite difficult to spot in the early stages of an infestation and can easily go unnoticed on chilli plants.
1. Look out for the flying insects around your chilli plants. If you see any of these, they are sure to have laid eggs somewhere.
2. Look also at the growing tip of the chilli plant, where it is most succulant and often you will see larvae at this point.
3. They could, however, be on the underside of any leaf on the chilli plant, with little or no sign on any other leaf.
4. Look out for ants around your chillies; ants farm aphids, placing them onto plants to lay eggs so that they can feed from the larvae that hatch. If there are ants crawling around your plants, you probably have aphids somewhere.
5. Look out for discoloured patches on leaves where aphid larvae have been feeding.
6. Look out for discarded white casings on the soil around the chilli plants.
7. In severe cases, new leaves will be twisted and distorted and plants looking decidedly unhealthy.
There are several things you can do to try to get rid of aphids but they can be a difficult pest to deal with once an infestation has got out of hand.
1. If caught in the early stages, a simple spraying with a washing up liquid solution is usually enough to get rid of the little critters and organic too.
2. Derris dust can be effective with slightly more advanced infestations on chilli plants.
3. There are a number of greenfly sprays available from your local gardening shop if you decide to go down the non-organic route. The only ones really found to be of use in severe infestations are pesticides containing Permathrin as this is absorbed into the plant and then aphids feeding off the plant die as well as those caught witht the spray.
4. Biological solutions are also available and these can be effective in prevention as well as cure. These are often used by different commercial greenhouse growers. Most effective is a combination of Aphidus - a parasitic wasp that lays eggs into immature aphids and Aphidolites, whose larvae voraciously feed on aphids. You can buy these biological pest controls from Defenders.
5. Aphids fin it much easier to survive inside a greenhouse than outside so in severe infestations that you cannot control, take your chilli plants outside for a time. This will slow down growth but it will help you to get rid of aphids.
With aphids, haulting an infestation before it starts is essential. Look out for the early signs and treat early on. Once an infestation has really taken hold, it can be very difficult to irradticate.
Red Spider Mites
About Red Spider Mites
Red Spider mites are one of the more common chilli problems and they can also effect many other plants in the garden. They like arid conditions, so a dry greenhouse can provide the perfect habitat for them. Red Spider Mites colonise the underside of leaves and look like tiny moving dots. They are only actually red in colour during the autumn and winter, turning an orangy yellow colour in their destructive spring and summer phase. In large infestations, Red Spider Mites can kill or seriously damage to chilli plants as they suck the sap from leaves.
Red Spider Mite Symptoms
Red Spider Mites can actually be quite difficult to spot in the early stages of an infestation and can easily go unnoticed.
1. Look out for a fine, pale mottling to the upper side of the leaf.
2. In larger infestations, a fine grey webbing covers parts of leaves.
3. Loss of leaf colour.
4. Inspection of the underside of leaves will reveal thousands of tiny mites, up to 1mm long and large numbers of round eggs. If you are unsure, use a magnifying glass or try tapping the leaf off onto a white sheet of paper and then concentrate looking for movement.
Red Spider Mite Treatment
There are several ways of dealing with Red Spider Mites
1. Regular mistings of water into the greenhouse; Red Spider Mites love dry conditions and find damp ones difficult to cope with.
2. There are a number of Red Spider Mite sprays available from your local gardening shop if you decide to go down the non-organic route, such as the highly effective SMC or Spidermite Control. Do read the label carefully though, some of these sprays cannot be used once the plant is in flower as they also kill bees.
4. Biological solutions are also available and these can be effective in prevention as well as cure. Phytoseiulus are a natural predator of Red Spider Mites. You can buy these biological pest controls from Defenders.
Red Spider Mite Prevention
Keep your greenhouse moist, but not waterlogged of course. Keep plants well ventilated and prevent overcrowding.
Slugs & Snails
About Slugs and Snails
This might be an obvious one to any experienced gardener but slugs and snails can quickly munch through and severely damage chilli plants if not kept in check, especially in a damp summer. Slugs and snails damage leaves, stems and leave plants open to other infections, so they are best kept in check.
Slug and Snail Symptoms
1. Look out for slug and snail trails around your greenhouse.
2. Look out for munched leaves.
3. Look out for holes in your chilli pods.
Slugs and Snail Treatment
There are so many slug and snail prevention products on the market and most gardeners have their own special method of dispatching these common pests but to name a few ...
1.If you are growing chillies under glass, keep your chilli plants in pots on greenhouse staging, this keeps all but the most athletic slugs and snails at bay.
2. Regular slug and snail hunts around your chilli plants can keep these pests at bay. Just pick them off by hand and snip them up with scissors, drop them into saline solution, stamp on them, feed them to your chickens or dispatch them in any way you see fit!
3. Slug pellets, organic or non-organic, scattered around your chilli plants, according to your choice.
4. Slug traps are pots of beer sunk into the ground that lure in the slugs and snails and then drown them.
5. Scatter anti-slug granules, coffee grounds or oatmeal around the base of your chilli plants.
6. Copper tape or vaseline around the top of your pots stops slugs and snils getting to your chilli plants.
7. Nematodes are microscopic creatures that infect and kill slugs in the soil. You water them into your soil every 6 weeks. They are remarkably effective but can work out expensive over large areas.
Slug and Snail Prevention
With aphids, halting an infestation before it starts is essential. Look out for the early signs and treat early on. Once an infestation has really taken hold, it can be very difficult to stop.
Although Caterpillar damage is not that common in chilli plants, a stray moth or butterfly getting into your greenhouse can unleash and quickly devastating pest onto your chilli plants. Unnoticed and unchecked, the hatching of a moth or butterfly's eggs can cause a lot of damage quickly.
1. Look out severe leaf damage, usually involving leaves being eaten from the outside inwards, but not always.
2. Rolled up leaves at the top of the plant in which caterpillars are cocooning themselves.
3. Dark eggs 1-2mm in diameter laid on the underside of leaves.
4. Caterpillars are not generally difficult to spot if you are on the lookout for bugs.
The best and easiest way of dealing with caterpillars is to pick them off and destroy them. If you notice the eggs first, obviously do the same thing.
About Capsid Bugs
Capsid bugs are quiet large, sap-feeding pests that can attack chilli plants during the summer months. There are numerous different species of Capsid Bug which vary from a bright green colour to brown. They are around 5mm long and have distinctive wings of a diamond shape when folded. Capsid bugs are very difficult to catch and pick off plants as they tend to quickly drop to the ground when disturbed.
Capsid Bug Symptoms
1. Look out for the bugs themselves, with a careful search, they should be apparent.
2. Their toxic saliva leaves very distinctive dead, brown patches around the areas of leaf they have fed from. Look out for tears on these patches as the leaves grow.
3. Scabby patches are sometimes visible.
Capsid Bug Treatment
1. Keep your greenhouse or chilli growing area free of hiding places for bugs such as dead plant material, upturned pots etc. This way, predators are more likely to pick off chilli pests.
2. Pesticides containing Bifenthin are the most succesful at dealing with Capsid bugs.
Thrips, sometimes known as Thunder Flies, are tiny little winged insects around 2mm in length, ranging in colour from yellow to black, dependent on species. They damage plants by sucking the sap from leaves, buds and fruits. In chillies and sweet pepper, thrips are usually most evident in the upper, youngest leaves. Thrips cause damage in the larval and adult stage and are difficult to spot because they are so tiny. Thrips damage chilli plants by limiting their photosynthesis and also by leaving wounds where bacterial, viral and fungal infections can get into the plants.
Symptoms of Thrips
1. In cases of a speckled appearance on leaves, a closer inspection might reveal thousands of tiny hatching thrips, emerging from eggs buried into leaf tissue.
2. Distorted, misshapen developing leaves.
3. Bleached or browning spots or steaks on chilli pods.
4. Silvery streaks on flower petals.
5. Browning patches on leaves.
6. Large groups of adult thrips collecting near the veins on the underside of leaves.
1. Spray plants with a soap solution, washing up liquid will work but horticultural soap is better.
2. There are a number of pesticides on the market which claim to be successful with thrips but the most effective are pesticides containing Permathrin as this is absorbed into the plant and then aphids feeding off the plant die as well as those caught witht the spray.
3. Biological controls include the predatory mite, Amblyseius cumeis which eat thrips and also young Spider Mites. They are available online from Defenders.