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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Sunday - June 23, 2013

From: San Marcos, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Edible Plants, Deer Resistant, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Leaves of Chile pequin consumed overnight from San Marcus TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Something ate all the leaves of my Chile petin overnight. There is a ton of frass under the plants but no sign of a critter to be found. These plants have been in the same area for years and this is the first time they've been consumed. Any idea what it could be? Thanks.

ANSWER:

We don't have a "Chile petin" in our Native Plant Database, but we do have a Capsicum annuum (Chile pequin) and a Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum (Chile pequin), which we assume you are referring to. When you say "frass" underneath, the first thing we think of is caterpillars, but we could not find that the chiles were larval hosts for any moths or butterflies.

Frankly, the only thing that could do that much damage overnight is deer. In our Native Plant Database, Capsicum annuum (Chile pequin) is characterized as having "high" deer resistance and Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum (Chile pequin) "moderate" deer resistance. In point of fact, when it is as dry and hot as it has been lately, deer will eat almost anything. Since it is fairly early in the blooming period (May to October) of these plants, they may not yet have put on the peppers that the deer do NOT like, but if they have eaten all the leaves that fact doesn't do you much good. You can always check our Deer Resistant Plants list when you are selecting plants, but with the experience you have just had you should not be too surprised at what this paragraph that leads that list says:

"Deer Resistant Species

Few plants are completely deer resistant. Several factors influence deer browsing including the density of the deer population, environmental conditions such as drought, and plant palatability. Deer tend to avoid plants with aromatic foliage, tough leathery and/or hairy or prickly leaves or plants with milky latex or sap. Try using some of the plants listed here to minimize deer damage to your landscape."

We are truly sorry.

 

From the Image Gallery


Chile pequin
Capsicum annuum

Chile pequin
Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum

Chile pequin
Capsicum annuum var. glabriusculum

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