Holes In Pepper Plant Leaves

Holes In Pepper Plant Leaves: What Can Cause Them and How to Treat It

Have your pepper plants been attacked? If yes, then this post is exactly what you should be reading. Because in it I will tell you exactly what attacked your pepper plant leaves and left holes on them. I will also share with you important information that will help you to prevent such attacks from reoccurring.

I am not an agricultural expert or a gardening guru. I also do not know how your pepper plant leaves look like right now or the pepper variety that you are growing. So I cannot say for sure what is causing the holes in your pepper plant leaves.

However, I have been growing pepper plants for many years. And my years of experience tell me that the thing that is most likely causing the holes in your pepper plant leaves is a pest. You are suffering from a pest invasion. 

The good news is that you can fight back; you can control or get rid of whatever pest that is giving you and your plants sleepless nights. Read on to find out the types of pests that attack and cause holes in pepper plant leaves and how they can be controlled or killed.

Pests That Commonly Attack Pepper Plants

Many pests can attack pepper plants and cause holes in their leaves. Therefore, before recommending a pesticide, gardening store attendants usually ask some questions to know the exact pest that is causing trouble so as to recommend the right cause of action.

They usually ask about the age of the pepper plants that were attacked and the parts of the pepper plants that were attacked. They also ask for a clear description of the damage done. They ask these questions because different pests attack different types of pepper plants and different pepper plant parts.

For example, some pests attack young pepper plants, while others attack mature pepper plants. Some pests (actually most pepper plant pests) also attack the leaves while others attack the pods and the stems. So the questions help the experts to guess the pest that is attacking your pepper plant leaves and recommend the right cause of actions. 

The pests that commonly attack pepper plants include corn borers, cutworms, flea beetles, and aphids.

Corn Borers

Corn Borers

Corn borers mainly attack pepper plant pods. They rarely touch pepper plant leaves. When corner borers attack pods, they usually begin from inside the pods. And if left unchecked, they can cause plenty of damage very fast to multiple pepper plants. Therefore, you should always examine your pepper plants carefully and regularly to quickly discover and deal with corn borers in case they attack your plants. 

Corn borers look like caterpillars so you can easily identify them. The most natural way to deal with corn borers is to attract or introduce ladybugs into your garden. Ladybugs eat the eggs of corn borers and, therefore, prevent them from hatching and becoming a menace. If you are brave enough, you can remove them by hand or get a nontoxic pesticide.



If your pepper plants are very young and holes have appeared on them, then they are most likely being attacked by cutworms. This is because cutworms attack very young pepper plant leaves. In fact, they prefer seedlings but they do occasionally attach pepper plants that have not produced fruit. If you do not deal with cutworms quickly, they will devour all your pepper plant seedlings. 

Cutworms are very difficult to control particularly if you direct seed your plants. The best way to deal with cutworms is to fight them with a natural pesticide the moment you notice them. This will keep them at bay.

Flea Beetles

Flea Beetles

Flea beetles like young pepper plants. So if your pepper plants are not yet mature or are just reaching maturity and they have been attacked, then the most likely cause is flea beetles. They usually leave very small holes on many leaves in many pepper plants. This is because they can jump quickly from one leaf to the next and from one plant to the next. 

Because of their jumpy nature, flea beetles are very easy to identify. To make your pepper plants uneatable, spray them with a mix of water and dish soap. And when the time comes to harvest peppers, wash them thoroughly as usual and they will be edible to you.



Aphids are very dangerous to many vegetable plants. They often adhere to pepper plant leaves and suck the sap out of them from the bottom. This creates holes and causes pepper plant leaves to wilt, yellow, and then die. This pest also secretes a substance that they use to transfer bacteria to leaves resulting in mold development. So they can cause massive damage to your plants. 

The best way to deal with aphids is to wash them away but this may be time-consuming. However, you can also kill them using natural pesticides.

Other Pests That Attack Pepper Plants

As mentioned above, if you have holes in your foliage, the most likely suspects are corn borers, cutworms, flea beetles, or aphids. However, these are not the only pests that attack pepper plant leaves. Other pests and insects that attack pepper plant leaves and cause holes in them include beetles, leafcutters, tomato hornworms, beet armyworms, moth, butterfly larvae, slugs, and snails.

The surest way to know what pest attacked your pepper plant leaves is to examine all your pepper plants carefully. Look at the leaves, under them, the stems, and the soil on the ground. You will surely see some sign or signs of the pest that is attacking your peppers. And once you identify it, it should be easy for you to find the right natural pesticide to control it or kill it. For instance, slugs and snails leave a trail and they are easy to identify. 

If you do not see a pest, then the only other option is that a pet did it. Your cat or dog may be the ‘pest’ damaging your pepper plants. So don’t rule them out. If they like disappearing into your garden, follow them and you could just catch them in the act. 

What If You Do Not Know the Pest That Attacked Your Pepper Plants?

If you can see holes in your pepper plant leaves but you are not sure what attacked them, do not worry. I have been in the same situation several times before. There are several things you can do to keep most if not all pests at bay.

  1. Keep Ducks or Chicken. If you are growing peppers in your garden, you should strongly consider keeping ducks or chicken. This is because ducks and chicken feed on many types of insects that are pepper plant pests.
  2. Clean The Area Around Your Plants Clean. You should regularly clean the area around your pepper plants. Remove all tall grass and weeds. This is because such things and uncleanness attract pests.
  3. Keep Peppers Away from Garlic, Onions, Alfalfa, Melons, and Sugar Beets. This is because, although beneficial, these plants attract a lot of pests such as thrips, leafrollers, and whiteflies that can attack pepper plants.
  4. Deploy Cardboard Collars. If you have time in your hands, you should deploy stiff cardboard collars near the base of your pepper plants. These collars are known to prevent cutworms from attacking pepper plants and other plants.
  5. Spread Silver Mulch Around Your Pepper Plants. If you can easily find silver mulch, find it and spread it on the ground around your pepper plants. Doing this will make whiteflies stay away.
  6. Spread Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth on Your Pepper Plants. Diatomaceous Earth can kill many different types of insects. If you get the food-grade type, you can spread everywhere including on the leaves of your plants. However, when it rains, it always gets washed away. So you should reapply it immediately.
  7. Use Turmeric. If you do not mind the scent of turmeric, you should add it to water and spray everywhere on your pepper plants. It is very effective against many garden bugs.

The Final Word

As you can see from the post above, many pests can attack and cause holes in your pepper plants. If there are holes in your pepper plant leaves, they have likely been caused by either aphids, cutworms, corn borers, or flea beetles.

If not then they may have been attacked by slugs, snails, or other common garden bugs. If you cannot investigate and find out which pest attacked the leaves of your pepper plants, you should use any or several of the methods I have shared with you above to control/ eliminate any pests that may be hiding in your garden.