Know the Common Insect Pests of Peppers

Peppers are without a doubt the best ingredient to blast your tongues with delicious heat and sweetness all rolled into one. And with the growing number of peppers lovers and hobby growers all over the world, its popularity has seriously increased for the past few years. But, we’re not the only ones who love this heat-packed fruit. You see, some insects also thrive on peppers and often beat us to it before we get the chance to harvest them.

Insect pests often create damage to the pepper fruits by eating out its flesh. But they also have their eyes for its leaves, blossoms, and stems. And well, they not only bore holes on our peppers but on our pockets as well. Since pest management when not done earlier on can be quite costly and will definitely leave you a bad headache afterward. So, if you want to avoid all the hassle and stress, check out and study these common insect pests of peppers.


Pepper Maggot fly, Zonosemata electa on Carolina horsenettle, Solanum carolinense Brookside Gardens, 8/9/15

Scientific Name: Zonosemata electa (Say)


The adults are actually yellow flies which are 8mm long and have transparent wings with brown bands. They have a characteristic black spot on both sides of their abdomen. The female adults would then lay its eggs below the pepper fruit skin which will then hatch after 10 days. The eggs are white in color and have a crookneck shape. Meanwhile, the hatched larva or maggot which is the most destructive stage has a pointed head and changes skin color from white to yellow. These larvae feed on the developing pepper fruits for about 18 days and bore holes out of the fruit. Once it falls to the ground, it will begin to pupate for the next months until June.


When you observe your young developing peppers, you’ll notice small punctures on the surface. This is an indication of eggs laid by the female. And as the fruit continues to mature and expand, those small holes will turn into shallow depressions on the skin. Damaged peppers have the tendency to turn red or ripen prematurely and rot.


Scientific Name: Anthonomus eugenii cano


The adult beetles have bodies covered with yellowish hairs and have a reddish-brown or black snout which is long and curved. The females bore holes on the flower buds and fruits of peppers to lay their eggs. And they are capable of laying around 200 yellow oval-shaped eggs in 30 days. After 3-5 days, the newly emerged larva are legless and white in color which later on turns into gray with a pale brown head and dark brown mouthparts.

These larvae will then feed on the fruits and buds for the next 8-10 days. Afterward, they will pupate for 4-6 days and will emerge as adults. These pepper weevils have a short life cycle during hot months but tend to have longer ones when the weather is cold.


Now these adult pepper weevils are quite addicted to the pepper’s leaves, bods, and young pods. But the most destructive stage is the larva as it munches almost everything. You’ll observe the buds and blossoms to fall prematurely from the plants. Furthermore, these larvae are also feasting on the core of the fruit’s seeds and the pods itself turning the inside into a black core. Stems tend to yellow and rot. The infested pods turn red or yellow, malformed and drop prematurely.


Scientific Name: Halyomorpha halys (Stal)


Adult brown marmorated stink bugs have white bands on their antennae and legs and brown to dark red colored bodies. Females are capable of laying about 28-30 white eggs in one go on the underside of the leaves of pepper. These eggs are clumped together in a mass, so you’ll know when your pepper plants are infested once you see them. Meanwhile, the nymphs change color once they develop from one instar into another. Initially, they have a black head with an orange abdomen. Afterward, they lose the said color and turn into a dark color with spines on their thorax. And it only takes about 40 to 60 days for an entire life cycle of a brown marmorated stink bug.


The bugs love to feast on the pepper fruits. They will pierce the pepper’s skin with their mouthparts and suck out its juices. And as they feed, these stink bugs also release digestive enzymes on the fruit. These enzymes cause “cloud spots” kind of damage wherein corky areas on the skin of the fruit appears which are light in color. Because these bugs are quite mobile, they can easily fly from one fruit to another.


Scientific Name: Myzus persicae (Sulzer)


Adult green peach aphids have an ovate translucent yellow-green body. Once they form wings, their head turns black as well as their thorax. But their abdomen remains yellowish-green. Females lay about 4-13 eggs in one go. The eggs are elliptical and have yellow to light green color which matures and turns black. The good thing is, these eggs actually have high mortality rates especially under unfavorable weather conditions. Meanwhile, the nymphs are greenish in color and already resemble adults. Once they progress in development, their green color turns a yellowish hue.


Although they do not directly affect the plant such as chewing of parts or boring holes, aphids can still produce two kinds of damage to the pepper fruit. First off, these small white cottony insects produce honeydew. Honeydew is a sticky sap-like substance that sticks on the surface of leaves, stems, and fruits. The presence of honeydew induces the growth of sooty mold fungi, creating a blackish layer on the surface. Meanwhile, aphids are also harbingers of viral bodies, such as the potato virus Y, beet yellow virus, lettuce mosaic virus, turnip mosaic virus, and etc. Furthermore, the dense number of aphids may cause wilting, water stress, and even stunt the growth of the plant.


Scientific Name: Ostrinia nubilalis (Hubner)


The adult form of European corn borers is actually moths. The males are relatively smaller than the females with dark pale brown or gray color. While the females have a much lighter color of pale yellow or light brown. Both sexes exhibit dark zigzag lines and yellow patches on their wings. Females are capable of laying an average of 20-50 eggs per day. The eggs are flat and white and actually appear like scales on the underside of the leaves. As for the larva, they have a brown or pinkish-gray color with a black head. The body has characteristic dark brown round spots per segment.


Although they commonly thrive on corn, these borers also have a wide host range depending on the availability of the host plant. They also love peppers by the way. The larvae are the most destructive stage. It mostly feeds on the stem and fruits of peppers. Furthermore, their entryways provide an opening for other disease-causing microorganisms to enter the plant. Their damage may cause a premature drop of underdeveloped fruits and rot. Breakage of some parts also occurs due to excessive boring in their tissues.


Scientific Name: Atherigona orientalis (Schiner)


This is also known as the tomato fruit fly. The adults have a square shape and yellowish-gray bodies. The female loves to lay its eggs on the cracks and crevices of ripe and even rotting fruits. The eggs already hatch after just a mere 12 hours.


These pepper fruit flies specifically love bell peppers. They not only lay eggs on the fruits but on the flowers as well. The larva will burrow and eat the tissue of ripe and even unripe bell peppers. This causes rotting and premature fruit drop.


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