I planted a sweet orange bell pepper plant last week in my garden bed, which was converted from a fire pit. It's only half a foot tall and hasn't flowered yet. One day, an entire leaf was chewed off. On the next day, almost all the leaves were chewed off.

The neighboring tomato plant and strawberry plants are untouched. I looked for worms but didn't find any. Last week, I did kill a white caterpillar shaped worm though. Today, I did squash some slugs that I found on my strawberry plants, but they didn't seem to be doing major damage to those plants.

Yesterday, I saw a squirrel gnaw on the leaves of dandelions. Last year, I noticed that the squirrels were fond of weeds, but they never touched my real plants. Could they have changed their attack plan this year?

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Update April 12, 2015

This morning, I discovered that the last leaf of the orange bell pepper was chewed off. Also, my Sugar Baby Icebox Watermelon seedlings were also attacked in a similar manner. I had neatly piled cedar mulch around the watermelon. I see that the mulch was disheveled and the soil was indented. An insect would not be able to move mulch around like that. It must be the squirrel by process of elimination.

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4 Answers 4


I bet its some sort of groundhog / gopher or other type of garden rodent pest. Without visible bite/teeth marks it is hard to say for certain, but I had pepper plants and they ate them up first. Pretty much avoided my tomatoes though.

  • Did you ever find a way to get rid of the rodents? I've heard that the most common way is to use hot pepper spray. Judging from the reviews of Critter Ridder, which uses hot pepper, it only works for 3 out of 5 buyers.
    – JoJo
    Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 17:33

Looks like deer due to the height of the marks, rough broad marks (deer sort of rip the leaf) on the leaf. More leaves on the bottom of the plant indicates its not a shorter animal like rodents, groundhog.


Image from http://cultivatorscorner.com/garden-pests-deer

  • My backyard has a 7 foot tall fence and I'm not living in a rural area, so it's probably not a deer.
    – JoJo
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 2:34
  • DEER ! A 7 ft fence is nothing for a deer if there is food on the other side. If they can not see the other side s 7 ft fence will stop them. Commented Aug 23, 2021 at 14:15

If you can't see any teeth marks anywhere, that might rule out rabbits, squirrels, deer and the like. It sounds like a job for a torch after dark - you need to go out in the night and see if there's anything there, including insects such as earwigs. I imagine you've already checked for caterpillars in the day time.

  • Is there any chance for this plant to revive?
    – JoJo
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 2:38
  • @JoJo Yes, if its not attacked time after time, its not dead, though you will have to wait a bit longer for your peppers - it needs to put on new growth again
    – Bamboo
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 10:30

My bell peppers have been attacked by darw i say my two dogs. They have suddenly started eating the leaves dont kbow why. So it could have been dogs. Hope the plants recover.

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