Should You Use Habanero Chili And Other Pepper Sprays On Your Cannabis Garden?
Growing cannabis organically can be a challenge. First of all, there is a lot of info out there, which means that it can be hard to separate tell the difference between fact and fiction. Also, what sounds good in theory, may not work as well in reality. For example, if you grow weed outdoors you will never know how long beneficial insects such as ladybugs, that you purchased will stay on your plants.
One proven beneficial organic gardening practice is to use a hot chili pepper spray as a pest deterrent. Pepper spray will most likely work as a deterrent. However, some hot peppers can also exterminate garden pests.
Below is a shortlist, in comparison to synthetic pesticides, of why you might want to include a homemade pepper spray for your bug-killing arsenal. The below list is not absolute, as you might encounter a few exceptions. However, if you use common peppers, like cayenne, habanero, jalapeno, etc., and follow the recipes, your results should be acceptable.
- Health-Hot Pepper spray, as it comes from pepper plant material, and not artificial material, is less risky than synthetic insecticides.
- Breaks Down-Hot pepper spray breaks down quickly. This means that there is little to no risk that pepper residue will be left on your crops when you are ready to harvest
- Targets Certain Pests-By choosing the correct pepper you can target certain pests. An example of this is that the cayenne pepper spray is the pepper that has been proven to exterminate and repel spider mites.
- Human Exposure Limited-Pepper spray can be designed to minimize human contact.
- Quick Acting-Almost all hot pepper spray is quick-acting.
- Low Toxicity-Hot pepper spray is healthier for humans than most synthetic pesticides. It is certainly healthier for humans than Roundup.
- Environmental friendly-As a chili pepper is natural it is also more environmentally friendly.
Originally this article was just going to be about haberno pepper. However, after doing research, I saw that pepper spray hot sauce, (mainly because of the many pepper types, wasn’t as easy as I thought. So, I felt it was best for this article to include all peppers and not just the habanero.
Chilli Peppers Categorization
Categorizing the chili pepper is a bit confusing. However, as you will see later, it is also necessary. The reason for the confusion is that there are five types (or families) of chili peppers, which are listed below, and each of these types of peppers contains a specific pepper or peppers, like, jalapeno or habanero. The five types of peppers are listed below.
Five Chili Pepper Families
(The C. In each of these below is Capsicum)
- C. Chinense-The habanero pepper is the only chili pepper of any significance in this family.
- C. Frutescens-These, Amazon basin, peppers are closely related to the C. Chinense family of peppers.
- C. Baccatum– Peppers from this family are a bright orange-red, and are largely seen in the Andean Peru region of South America.
- C. Annuum-This pepper family contains a wide range of peppers that are extremely hot or have no heat at all. Some notable examples are cayenne, jalapeno, New Mexico Chili, and the bell pepper. (The bell pepper is devoid of any capsicum. So, it is not useful as a gardening spray)
- C. Pubescens-These peppers are native to the South American countries, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Peru.
Most US Citizens and Westerners, will likely only encounter hot peppers from the C. Chinense and C. Annuum families.
Why You Should Know Your Peppers
A certain pepper type might only work in repelling or killing a certain pest. As a result, if you know that “X” pepper only works for killing spider mites, and if you are out of “X” pepper, you might be able to substitute other peppers from that same family.
What is Capsaicin?
Capsaicin is the secret sauce that gives chili peppers their spice and heat. It also is what makes a chili pepper repel garden pests.
The following is a summary of chili pepper and capsaicin.
• More capsaicin means more heat.
• The amount of capsaicin depends on the particular pepper.
• Capsaicin is primarily an insect deterrent and does not kill harmful insects.
The Scoville Scale
The Scoville Scale is a scale invented by Wilbur Scoville, in 1912. The measurement is called the Scoville Heat Unit or SHU. This scale was designed to measure how much dilution was needed for pepper to no longer become hot. Now, it is mainly used by the public for measuring the heal levels of various peppers. It goes from a scale of 0 (bell pepper) to the caroline reaper at 2,200,200
This is useful in gardening because some believe that, with reason, the hotter the pepper, the better it will work as a repellent. However, I was not able to find any article on any pepper hotter than the habanero. As a result, I would not use any pepper that is hotter than the habanero.=
• More Capsaicin means more heat.
• The amount of Capsaicin depends on the particular pepper.
• Capsaicin is primarily an insect deterrent and not a pesticide.
Hot Pepper Spray and Garden Pests
Hot Chili Pepper Spray works to repel a number of garden pests like aphids, spider mites, thrips, fungus gnats, the flea beetle, and more. Certain hot chili peppers have even been used as a non-lethal means for deterring squirrels, rabbits, and even deer. (Hot pepper spray Does though work best with rabbits and squirrels.
Deters and Does Not Kill* -Although capsicum can kill insects, it is primarily designed to deter garden pests. Sudies have shown that capsiscan can harm pests by damaging their nervous system. Hot pepper spray though is mostly used for just detering harmful insects from laying their eggs on your plants and also keeps the insect frm approaching a plant which in turn greatly limits plant damage.
How Is It Used?
Capsicum-based insect repellent comes in either a spray or an insecticidal soap and is used on the plant leaf on an infested plant. The difference between the two is that with the spray, water is mixed with the hot chili peppers, and liquid soap is mixed with the peppers for insecticidal soap.
Check out the Appendix for hot pepper spray recipes.
Spider Mite Infestation
(Exact Chili Pepper Matters)
A study of chilli pepper spray’s ability to kill and
deter spider, and other predatory mites
A Study of Chili Pepper Spray’s Ability to Kill and Deter Spiders, and other Predatory Mites-This study is from a reputable US Government site (Pub Med), which does not allow advertisements. Therefore, there is little reason that an article would be biased. Additionally, this study only deals with hot peppers and insects of the arachnid family, which includes predatory mites, like the spider mite.
There were two studies, which addresses the question which addresses the capsicum’s ability to deter and repel insects of the arachnid family. The first study addresses this question more thoroughly and the second one backs up a conclusion on the first study.
This study though does have a few limitations. The first limitation deals with this post, and that it is only an excerpt and not a full report. Secondly, the first study, instead of water or liquid dish soap, mixes hot pepper extract with methanolic extracts. (AKA “Wood Alcohol”)
Most DIY hot pepper spray or insecticidal soap recipes are either mixed with water or liquid soap. This limitation is specifically mentioned in the study’s conclusion stating the results were from “methanolic extracts”.
How the Study Was conducted
Peppers from the C. chinense, C. frutescens, C. baccatum, C. annuum, and C. pubescens were mixed with methanol and made into a spray. The pepper spray was then tested for peppers from a specific pepper family on whether it could deter or kill the common two-spotted spider mite.
Per the study, the C. Annuumm pepper family, which includes the Cayenne pepper was found to kill 45% of spider mites. And spider mites were deterred from landing on strips covered in the spray from peppers in the C. Baaccatum and C. Annuum family.
The C. Chinense (Includes the Habenero”) and the other chili types were tested for their pesticide and repellent ability. C. Chinense pepper types though are not mentioned elsewhere in this excerpt. Therefore, as C. Baaccatum, and C. Annuum were mentioned, I feel it is not a brash assumption to assume that that C. Chinense isn’t useful for either deterring or killing spider mites
Why Would Mites React Differently With Different Chili Pepper Spray?
The paper concluded that the two ingredients that are associated with deterring insects (capsaicin and dihydrocapsaicin) in peppers were not the reason for spider mites dying and/or being repelled from the sprayed plants. Instead, the paper concluded that other, unknown properties in these pepper types are responsible for killing and repelling the spider mite. This conclusion, that unknown substances killed and deterred the two-spotted spider mites was further backed by another study published in Pub Med.
How To Limit Beneficial Insects Being Affected
The best way to prevent beneficial insects from being negatively affected by pepper spray or insecticidal soap is that you should spray your crops in either the morning or evening, which will lessen the chance of pollinators being affected by spraying.
A hot pepper spray is easy to make organic insect repellent. In fact, if you make a spray using bottled hot sauce, you do not even have to cut and mince the pepper pods. And, even if you are not into organic gardening, capsicum is an excellent resource to use near harvest time because its residue does not last long. So, buy your spray bottle, get your peppers and give it a try!
How To Make a Chilli Pepper Spray and Insecticidal Soap
The following are some excellent recipes for capsicum pest repellent spray: This one is from the SFGATE website that specifically mentions habaneros, although other peppers can be substituted. And, Click Here, for an especially easy step-by-step, and easy to follow, recipe. If you do not want to deal with the trouble of cutting up tabasco pepper you can try this recipe that uses sauce straight from the bottle.
Commercial Made Capiscum Pepper Spray
Hot Pepper Wax is a store-bought, natural pepper spray, that contains, capsaicin, from cayenne peppers and is mixed with paraffin wax and miscellaneous food-grade additives. According to this website, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Extension states that Hot Pepper Wax is not certified organically.
There wasn’t any link included that backed her claim up. However, the rules concerning organic products are quite stringent. Therefore, it would not surprise me if it were true. The following is a section of the USDA website on organic food.
. . . called organic if it’s certified to have grown on soil that had no prohibited substances applied for three years prior to harvest. Prohibited substances include most synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.