There several pests that can harm your jalapeños, and I have encountered the most common ones in one go. I am determined to grow my peppers organically as much as possible, and I am so appreciative of the fact that I am a work-at-home mom able to take care of these plants on a whim whenever I need and want to. Because of this, I am able to catch these pests before they do some major damage on my crops. Here are the common pests that can attach your jalapeños and affect your plant drastically unless they are fully controlled and contained.
I always make it a habit to look beneath the leaves, and I know instantly when something is wrong. Take for example the spider mite. They live in colonies, often in webs that cause the leaves to stick together. The webs are denser, thicker, finer, and coarser compared to a real spider web. As they feed off the plant, the leaves will show signs of coarse spotting, with the leaves eventually getting tough and dry, causing it to fall off. These mites are very small, yet sneaky. Sometimes, a gardener will only see the damage to the plant once the numbers have increased to the point of infestation.
I used to love these little white flies as a kid because I thought of them as cute little butterflies, and I often frown at my mother for shooing them away from her garden. I did not realize until I got into a gardening blog stint that these white flies weaken plants by sucking plant juices. Aside from that, these flies secrete honeydew, a sugary, sticky substance in which black fungus thrive in. Whiteflies also spread viral diseases between plants, so if you have plant that is sick, there's a chance that your jalapeño will get infected as well.
Why Do They Stick to My Jalapeño?
All these pests thrive in a warm, humid environment, so an enclosed space with poor air circulation will be an ideal environment for these pests to proliferate. Soil particles on the leaves also attribute to spider mite increase, including a growing medium high in nitrogen content.
How Do I Control These Pests?
All these three pests can be controlled several ways without the use of insecticides. I never used insecticides on my plants because bees and birds are dying at an alarming rate due to insecticide exposure. There are other natural ways to help control these pests without resorting to harmful means.
Rubbing OffOnce you see a collection of these pests on the underside of the leaves, use the tips of your thumb or forefinger to gently scrape them off. Make sure that your jalapeño is not wilted so that the leaves are firm. You can also use a soft cloth, leaf, or sponge to do this.
Cold WaterThese pests love hot weather, and dousing your jalapeño with cold water can do the trick of driving them out.
Water The Soil DirectlyOverhead watering can result to soil particlesnto be splashed upwards. Use drip irrigation, or place the tip of the hose or watering can as close to the soil surface as possible to avoid unnecessary splashing.
Introduce Predatory InsectsLady bugs, green lacewing, and predatory mites can be bought in your local garden store. These beneficial insects just love to feed on these pests, and a good population can certainly help control the infestation. Attract more of these beneficial insects by planting yarrow, cosmos, allium, french marigolds, thyme, dill, and oregano near your jalapeño.
Fish EmulsionSpraying your jalapeño with fish emulsion once a week will help make the leaves undesirable for these pests to live in.
Do Water Stress On A Minimum BasisWe all know that a stressed jalapeño plant will produce the hottest peppers with the most amazing flavor. But if you notice that the infestation is getting worse or not improving, then keep the water stressing sessions to a minimum, or stop it until the pests are totally eradicated.
Improve Air Circulation And Sun ExposureThe best thing about container gardening is that you can move your jalapeño anywhere without causing undue stress. Place your jalapeño in a sunny location with good air circulation to prevent these pests from latching on, especially whiteflies. Move other plants away as well to help improve air circulation. If you are growing your jalapeño indoors, an oscillating fan as well will do quite well, along with a yellow light to help attract and zap these pests without harming beneficial ones.
Organic PesticidesSpray made with garlic or neem oil will be perfect to get rid of these pests. You can buy them, or just make your own at home with the use of mineral, garlic, or neem oil. There are also some organic insecticide soaps that can be useful if you find that the infestation is getting out of control.
Pull It OutThere will be instances when you will miss a leaf or two during your inspection, resulting to a significant number of pest population. Happened to me several times, and the only way to save my jalapeño is to take the leaves off and trash them. Do not be afraid of cutting off a branch or two if the spider mites have created an intricate network of webs. These webs are already sheltering a massive colony of spider mites, so the need to sacrifice buds and peppers must be done to save the plant. And if you find a plant near your jalapeño that is heavily infested, you have to pull it out. Sadly, you have to do the same with your jalapeño if your control efforts are not showing any results, or if the infestation is already heavy.
Note: do not put the infested leaves and plants in your compost pile. These insects are carriers and they can contaminate your compost pile, causing spread of disease.
Hose Them DownDid you stake your jalapeño? Is it secure? Then have fun in the garden and get ready to have fun in your garden and blast these pests away! Sure a couple of flowers might fall off, but that's a small price to pay once you see your jalapeño all nice and pests free. I got lucky and had a gusty thunderstorm that did just that. Whatever mites and aphids I missed, the heavy rain and strong winds took care of them for me.
These simple solutions will guarantee the health and safety of your jalapeño, and they will also work with other plants in your garden that are infected. If you know of other methods, of if any of these methods have given you possitive results, please do share it with us by using the comment section below.
Good luck, and happy gardening!