Hot Pepper IPM

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Hot Pepper IPM notes

Hot pepper is a major non-traditional export crop in Jamaica. It is also a major spice for local consumers, processors, restaurants and others in the food industry. The crop is grown mainly in the hilly areas of the island, chiefly in Westmoreland, St. Mary and Manchester.

The crop is affected by several pests which cause different levels of damage. If they are not properly managed, the farmer can suffer severe losses. This leaflet seeks to help farmers know the pest problem and how to treat it.

The major pests affecting hot peppers are:

  • Broad Mite
  • Gall Midge
  • Viruses
  • Fruit worm
  • Frog-eye Spot
  • Wilt





Frog-eye spot

Of the main types grown, Scotch Bonnet is preferred for the fresh food trade and the red types for processing

Broad Mite

These are very tiny, tick-like animals that bore the plant surface and feed on the juices. The plant cells then dry out.

Broad mites cause more problems when:

  • Too much insecticide or miticide sprays used
  • Weather is wet








 Leaf bronzing


  • Use pesticide only if you must and use only certain types (see below).
  • Keep weeds  under control
  • Check fields weekly for signs of mites
  • “Bronzing” of shoot tips and backs of leaves
  • ”Bronzing” of small, round, tough fruits.
  • Young leaves and, flower buds fall off, leaving bare shoot tip

Bronzing of small round fruit

  • Where damage is seen, spray those sections of field. Use a pesticide such as Top Cop, Vertimec,  Agrimek. Follow the pesticide label.
  • A x 10 or x 15 hand lens will help you find out if living mites are still on the plant. Check backs of young leaves 5 – 7 days after spraying. Spray again only if live broad mites are seen.

       Shoot tip bronzing


Viruses are germs which infect plants and cause poor growth. Infected plants show leaf curling, leaf crinkle, leaf twisting, green and yellowish mottling, poor bearing, small or ill-shaped fruits, stunting.

The main hot pepper viruses in Jamaica are Tobacco Etch Virus (TEV), Potato Virus Y (PVY) and Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV). These are spread by aphids. Insecticides will not keep viruses out of a field but can help to reduce spread afterwards.

Viruses cause more problems when:

  • Tobacco, tomato, Irish potato and some weeds, (e.g. Black Nightshade, Velvet burr, Cow pops) are growing nearby
  • Only traditional farming methods used
  • Plants are infected early in their growth


  Black Nightshade


  • Use an insect-proof nursery to protect seedlings from viruses
  • As far as possible, plant fields away from any other pepper, tomato, Irish potato fields
  • Plant rows of trap crops such as corn, around (and in) field, 3 weeks before transplanting pepper
  • Use light coloured mulch such as white plastic or dried grass, to cover the ground between plants
  • If aphids are plentiful, spray trap crop with liquid soap or an insecticide such as Safer, Admire or Actellic. Follow the pesticide label.


Fruit Worm

Fruit worms are caterpillars which bore into the fruit to feed. Affected fruits have holes and may rot or fall from the plant. They are useless for sale.

They cause more problems when:

  • Tomato or corn are around
  • Too much insecticides used


Fruitworm holes


  • Check bearing fields weekly for eggs, near or on green fruit
  • If only a few are seen, squash with fingers
  • If many, spray after 1 – 3 days with BL (Dipel, Thuricide, Agree, Xentari), Match, Karate, or other similar insecticide.

Follow the pesticide label.

  • Check fruits for signs of damage and holes
  • Dark coloured or watery underneath skin
  • Green-yellow caterpillar inside
  • Collect and bury infested fruits at least 20cm (8 inches) deep. 
  • Ram earth down on top

Aphid colony


These are very small, yellow, green, red or black, egg-shaped insects that suck sap from plants.  Mostly at backs of leaves or shoot tips. Some types carry viruses and infect plants when they feed. They leave a clear, sugary liquid honey dew on the plant; a black fungus, sooty mould grows on this. Ants also feed on honey dew and protect aphids. Aphids breed rapidly when too much nitrogen fertilizer is used.


Many other helpful insects (Natural enemies) attack and kill aphids

  • Know and protect Natural Enemies by spraying only when needed, either early in mornings or late evenings
  • Check trap crop and pepper plants weekly for aphids:
  • Check backs of leaves
  • Use yellow pan traps
  • Squash any live aphids that are seen
  • If for any reason large numbers are found, spray with Safer,  Actellic  or Admire insecticides. Follow the pesticide label.
  • Spraying may be done to the infested plants and those around  them,  without treating the entire field

 Tiny wasp attacking fruit worm egg

Gall Midge

This is a pest of importance to the US. The tiny adult flies lay eggs in flowers/fruit stalk of hot peppers. Yellow/orange maggots hatch and feed inside . Affected fruits may show a black blotch on stalks.

Gall midge maggot

Maggots jump from fruits and go into the soil. Later they change to tiny flies, come out and repeat the cycle


  • Keep fields free of weeds between plants. Use plastic mulch where possible
  • Reap fruits from fields as soon as they mature
  • Remove all fallen fruit from field regularly; bury at least 20 cm (8 inches) deep. Ram earth down on top
  • Destroy plants when the field will no longer be reaped
  • Spray insecticides in late evenings, when adults fly around
  • Recommended insecticides are Admire, Actellic, Malathion
  • Follow the pesticide label