Is it OK to Eat Peppers with Holes in Them?


The presence of holes in the fruit of a pepper plant (Capsicum annuum) nearly invariably indicates that a pest has eaten the fruit and maybe burrowed into it. The issue affects the fruit of sweet bell peppers more often than it does the fruit of hot peppers, despite the fact that both types of peppers are produced as annuals throughout the United States. If you see any holes in the pepper, you should be aware that it is possible that it has been tampered with by insects. Be careful when you cut into the pepper to examine it and decide whether or not it is worthwhile to keep it or if it should be thrown away.

Common Pepper-Eating Insects

A wide range of insects are responsible for the holes seen in pepper fruit. After spending the winter as a pupa in the soil, the pepper maggot (Zonosemata electa), which is endemic to the eastern region of North America and is active from the beginning of summer through the end of summer, emerges the following year.

Another prevalent species of pepper insect pest is the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilalis), which looks like a moth when it reaches its mature form. Another form of pest that feeds on peppers is called the pepper worm, and it has the potential to be discovered inside of a pepper that is intended for human consumption. The tomato fruitworm (Helicoverpa zea), the beet armyworm (Spodoptera exigua), the yellow-striped armyworm (Spodoptera ornithogalli), and a wide range of other species of caterpillars, aphids, and thrips are examples of pests that do less damage than others.

Signs of Infestation

Because adult female pepper maggots lay their eggs just beneath the surface of the fruit’s skin, expanding pepper fruit that has been infested by pepper maggots may show signs such as small holes that become round craters. These craters are the result of the egg depressions caused by the adult female pepper maggots. Scarring on the surface of fruit may be caused by thrips, and this scarring can be brownish or whitish-brown in colour. The scarring becomes larger as the fruit matures. Be on the lookout for holes towards the top of the fruit stem as well; the existence of such holes might point to the presence of the European corn borer. This insect bores its way into fruit from the top, leaving behind distinctive holes and excrement at the points where it enters the fruit.

Infestations of worms, such as the pepper worm or the thread worm that may be found in capsicum, are another cause of holes in the skin of peppers. This occurs as a result of the worms’ ability to chew holes in the peppers and get access to their interiors, where they feed on the flesh.

Secondary Problems with Pest Infestations

When insects chew holes in your pepper fruit, even if the holes are little, they might create secondary issues. This is true even if the holes are not very large. The fruit may begin to rot or develop too quickly, both of which are often the results of pathogens entering the plant at the wound locations. Infectious agents, such as the pathogen Erwinia carotovora, are often to blame for these kinds of issues.

When the fruit starts to rot, other insects that are looking for opportunities to feed, like flies, are attracted to it. It’s possible that they’ll eat the fruit, then defecate on it, and then deposit their eggs in the decaying debris. Consuming pepper fruit with holes in it is not recommended for a variety of secondary reasons.

Holes in Leaves

Holes in pepper leaves are a less major concern. Insects like aphids, leaf miners, and flea beetles are capable of devouring tissue and sucking sap, which may lead to holes in leaves. If there are no accompanying holes in the pepper fruit, then it is generally okay to consume. If there are accompanying holes, then the fruit should not be eaten. However, in order to photosynthesize and get energy from the surrounding light, garden food plants like peppers need their leaves.

If holes appear in the leaves of your plant on a regular basis, you should not ignore the issue since it may impact the harvest. Look for ladybugs and lacewing larvae for sale as an alternative to utilising harmful pesticides before you give in and succumb to employing those chemicals.