I live in western South Australia (Mediterranean climate with sandy, pH neutral soils). I turned over the vegetable garden (history unknown) in August/September, adding Dynamic Lifter for vegetables, and planted in late September (spring). We then had the hottest October on record. I have nurtured the plants through an extreme weevil and earwig infestation and also have no shortage of slaters and millipedes. The surviving plants are small and multi-branched but now my ‘peppers’ new leaves are deformed. Tomatoes and eggplant are OK. The capsicums are in the ground, the chillies in large pots in a mix of garden soil, potting mix, composted cow poo with Dynamic Lifter and pea straw mulch. I water every 2-3 days or daily in the heat (35+ °C) and apply Seasol & Powerfeed fortnightly. Both have just started flowering.

I know there are numerous posts on this but nothing that shows a problem the same as this. The largest capsicum is 35 cm high, it looks wilted but shouldn’t be as it gets watered enough. The new leaves cup upward in the middle, the outer edges roll in, the centre vein squiggles, there are small bugs on the underside and something in the stem ‘forks’ that looks like small grains of salt.

Does anybody out there recognise this and have management ideas?

Leaf Leaf Leaf Bug Leaf

  • 1
    I don't want to post this as an answer because I'm not sure. I am so far from Australia.... But the insect looks a lot like a ladybug/ladybird beetle instar. A bit washed out in color, but I've seen them sort of yellowish, and not scarlet. This would indicate you have aphids (or mites), and both of these will cause leaf curl. However, with the ladybugs, you have a solution in the making. Any other kind of plant stress can cause this too. But my plants that get this still produce loads of peppers. For me I am pretty sure it's the heat and water stress. Nov 23, 2015 at 19:42

3 Answers 3


OK think I got it. It was through other insect ID. I think you have mealybugs. Thought those were ladybug larvae, but I looks more like mealybugs. Hard to say which species. There are ones that are not so mealy, at least in different life-cycle stages. Doesn't really matter though. They will cause leaf curl, as will aphids (I think you call these greenfly), whitefly, blackfly, etc. Encoraging ladybugs (ones that like eating them) - you may find some around or nearby at your neighbors - take a couple and put them on your plants. Insecticidal soap works (avoid the ladybugs though they are more tolerant of it). Just knocking them off will work too, but you have to do it a lot...

  • Parasitic wasps are also mentioned as control, however I'm not familiar with these for mealybugs (here where I live). Perhaps your local government agriculture services can help. They say these are very effective. Dec 2, 2015 at 17:14
  • There are specific parasitic wasps that are used. Not the same that control other pests such as catepillers, etc. Leptomastix dactylopii and Anagyrus fusciventris are mentioned in Australia. agric.wa.gov.au/control-methods/… Dec 3, 2015 at 18:04
  • I think the damaged new leaves Amyhave been caused by the damage dome to the leaf buds in the very hot climate.
    – user13638
    Jan 5, 2016 at 12:16
  • Sorry for typos! .......Damaged new leaves may have been caused by damage/trauma done in the very hot conditions to the forming leaf bud. Did you cover up the plants with fleece to prevent scorching?
    – user13638
    Jan 5, 2016 at 12:19

100% mites! Took me Tons of research to figure out last season. I have a little broad mites and spider mites. I get those same exact squiggly veins in the leaves. What you need to do is make a neem oil spray. I do 1 gallon of water, 1 tablespoon of Neem oil (100% cold pressed w/ azadirachtin), and a tablespoon of natural dish soap. Just enough soap to keep the oil dissolved. Spray that all over your plant underneath the leaves and everything in the evening. I cut off the bad leaves too when I catch it early.


That is classic TMV....tobacco mosaic virus....super crappy for this to enter your garden. I'm no expert, but here's my experience...but not looking good. If you are, or there has been smokers in/around your garden it could very likely have it.

From what I understand, it's a virus from cigarettes (not sure if it's just tobacco or cigarettes, I know tobacco plants show symptoms of the virus. Very hard to rid room/area/garden of virus. Can cling to tools, clothes, dirt, and will live years in dead plant material. Sustainable in hi temps (cooking dirt has not been effective). Once virus takes host it will spread, don't know exactly how. Signs of infection can very easily be misinterpreted for other bact./fung. Infections. Don't know if bugs spread it but I would assume bugs may. Later years of severe infection, plants have shown stunted growth, deformed fruit, and complete loss of yield in some cases.

No cure yet.

My recommendations:

Clean tools Wash hands Don't smoke

Either A) change all your soil out. B) hope for the best!

I live in Minnesota. I'm experimenting with dumping gallons of milk in the soil in late fall...long story, we'll see what happens.

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