Natural Pest Repellent: Do Hot Peppers Deter Pests In The Garden

(Image credit: eugenekeebler)

We all know that pepper spray repels the bad guys, right? So, it isn’t necessarily a stretch to think that you could repel insect pests with hot peppers. Okay, maybe it is a stretch, but my mind went there and decided to investigate further. A little web search for “do hot peppers deter pests” and, voila, up came some mighty interesting information about using hot peppers for pest control, along with a great recipe for a DIY homemade natural pest repellent using hot peppers. Read on to learn more.

Do Hot Peppers Deter Pests?

Informed folks today are concerned about synthetic pesticide use on foods used for human consumption and are increasingly looking for and using alternative natural products. Research scientists have been listening, and there are a number of articles on studies done on the efficacy of using hot peppers for pest control, specifically on the larvae of the cabbage looper and on spider mites. What did they find? Many different types of hot peppers were used in the study, and most of them were successful in killing the cabbage looper larvae, but only one type of pepper used had any effect on the spider mites-- cayenne pepper. Research has already determined that using hot peppers in repellents can deter the onion fly from laying eggs and can reduce growth of the spiny bollworm and repel cotton pests as well. So, the answer is yes, you can repel pests with hot peppers, but not all pests. Still, they seem to be an option for the home gardener looking for a natural pest repellent. While natural repellents are sold in stores that contain hot peppers, you could also make your own.

DIY Natural Pest Repellent with Hot Peppers

There are a number of recipes on the internet for making your own pest repellent. This first one is the easiest.

  • Puree one garlic bulb and one small onion in a blender or food processor.
  • Add 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) of cayenne powder and 1 quart (1 L.) of water.
  • Let steep for an hour.
  • Strain any chunks through cheesecloth, discard chunks of onion and garlic, and add 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) of dish soap to the liquid.
  • Put in a sprayer and spray both the upper and lower surfaces of plants that are infested.

You can also start with 2 cups (473 ml.) of hot peppers, chopped. Note: Make sure you are protected. Wear goggles, long sleeves, and gloves; you might want to cover your mouth and nose as well.

  • Chop up the peppers small enough so that you can measure out 2 cups (473 ml).
  • Dump the cut peppers into a food processor and add one head of garlic, 1 tablespoon (15 ml.) of cayenne pepper and puree along with enough water to keep the food processor going.
  • Once you are done pureeing the mixture, place it in a large bucket and add 4 gallons (15 L.) of water. Let this sit for 24 hours.
  • After 24 hours, strain out the peppers and add to the liquid 3 tablespoons (44 ml.) of dish soap.
  • Pour into a garden sprayer or spray bottle to use as needed.
Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.