My potted cayenne peppers have had problems with pests for about a year and a half. Does any one recognize it and know how to deal with it?

The plants have been standing on a glazed balcony during summer, the older ones have been overwintering indoors.
The soil is a mixture of potting soil and compost.
When I planted them I added some spoons of leftover tomato fertilizer (7-3-10)
I am located in northern scandinavia.

I have so far treated it without success by:

  • Removing any damaged leaves.
  • Spraying/washing leaves and stems with dishsoap diluted in water.

Update: I have sprayed the plants with neem according to stormys answer and have not observed any new damage to the leaves so far.

Update2: After researching this a bit more I believe the pests may actually be (chilli) thrips, rather than whitefly as the accepted answer says. Compare this image to my closeup photograph. I will leave the answer accepted since the neem seems to be effective against them as well, but I might write up a new answer in spring depending on how it works out.

Mildly damaged leaves: Leaf damage A closeup of whatever lives on the plants (I estimate 1-2mm in length): Pest Same image, zoomed out. Pest 2

1 Answer 1


I think this is whitefly, the closeup is a young adult, the leaf in the first picture, on the right, might have the 'nymph' stage along the mid vein sucking up nutrients. Lots of eggs are visible on the second picture.

Is this plant in a huge pot or is it in a 6" or less? If 6" or less, I would get Neem, mix it into 3 gallons of water in a 5 gallon bucket, cut a slice in a paper plate to the center of the plate, put it over the top of the pot and soil of the pepper, turn that pepper upside down and swish it in the Neem mixture. Allow to dry. When harvesting any peppers just wash well.

I'd also spray some of that mixture on top of the soil, shallowly.

If this plant is in a large heavy pot, just get a good sprayer, fill with properly mixed neem, go out side on the patio at night, lay the plant on its side (use newspaper to be tidy) and spray the plant thoroughly, especially the undersides of the leaves, the stems. If it is flowering, I'd get little chunks of saran wrap and cover each flower and rubber band closed beneath the flower. Depends on how far along your plants are. Then spray till dripping. Sit upright and allow to dry. Do this at night when bees aren't around...they say it is ok but I do not take chances with bees. They collect the pesticide whatever it is and take it back to the hive where it can cause problems and/or kill the entire hive.

If you've used garden soil in your pots this would be where you got this white fly. I would take this chance, repot your pepper using sterilized cheapo potting soil. Make sure no fertilizer or water holding gimmicks have been added to the soil. Are these peppers out of doors in the sun or on a patio or under artificial light? What are you using for fertilizer? What is the ratio the NPK number (5-7-6? or did you use compost for fertilizer which is just nitrogen which is another culprit where the flies came from...and I'll bet you haven't gotten many flowers or peppers, yes)?

  • Thank you for your answer, I updated the question with some extra information, and I will take a look at the fertilizer when I get home from work. We actually got quite a lot of both flowers and peppers, but not as many on the most affected plants. I will order some neem oil and accept this answer if the treatment works.
    – Jave
    Nov 9, 2017 at 8:56
  • I use compost on my outdoor potted plants but not on indoor potted plants. But that is most likely where you got this insect. Neem works well. It is as strong as I ever use for a pesticide. I am looking for what fertilizer you've used. Compost increases the nitrogen. Too high of nitrogen and you won't get reproductive growth as much as vegetative growth. This Neem will work just fine. Wash peppers off before eating is all I would do...
    – stormy
    Nov 9, 2017 at 23:26
  • That is interesting information about the nitrogen, I didn't know that. As I mentioned, most plants have gotten a good amount of flowers and fruits.
    – Jave
    Nov 10, 2017 at 8:40

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