Food Gardening Network

Growing Good Food at Home

What to Do About Pests that Can Harm Your Pea Plants

Pea weevils on pea seeds.

Pea weevils on pea seeds.

Pests in your pea garden, left unchecked, can damage and destroy your precious pea plants. Fortunately, peas have few enemies. Keeping a close watch on your plants during regular daily inspections will help you spot any pests before they can do irreparable harm.

Spot the symptoms of pea plant pests

Check leaves, stems, and fruit for these symptoms that come from pests on the prowl!

On Pea Leaves and Stems

Symptom Pest
Torn or chewed stem Cutworm (usually occurs early in the season)
Curling, stunting Aphids
Notches in plant leaves Pea weevils
Yellowing, curling leaves Aphids
Webs on bottom of leaves Spider mites
Tunnels or crooked patterns in leaves Leaf miners
Decimated leaves, stems Armyworms
Honeydew (white, sticky residue) Aphids

On Pea Fruit

Symptom Pest
Holes in fruit Pea weevils
Stunted fruit Aphids
Decimated fruit, plant Armyworms

How to treat pests on pea plants

Here are some proven ways to get rid of pests on your pea plants. Choose the best treatment for the type of pests invading your plants.

  • Pick off the pests. Use your garden gloves to remove the pests by hand. After removal, destroy pests by drowning them in a bucket of soapy water or crushing them with your foot. Handpicking isn’t efficient or practical for very small pests, but works well with larger pests such as the armyworms and cutworms.
  • Apply insecticidal soap. Insecticidal soap is organic. The potassium salts in insecticidal soap help remove an insect’s protective waxes, causing destruction of insect membranes and killing them. Insecticidal soaps are particularly effective on smaller pests such as aphids and spider mites. Mix the soap with water to create your solution, and apply directly to insects on any plants. While insecticidal soap is less apt to affect other organisms, certain plants might be sensitive to the soap and can suffer leaf burn.
  • Apply horticultural oils. Combine plant- or petroleum-based oils with water to produce horticultural sprays. Neem oil, for instance, is derived from seed extracts of the neem plant. Oil-based sprays block an insect’s air holes, interfere with an insect’s metabolism, disrupt insect feeding, and inhibit insect growth. Like insecticidal soaps, horticultural oils can cause plant injury if not properly diluted.
  • Make your own pest spray. As noted elsewhere in this collection, you can make your own pest spray with benign materials. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of a mild dish detergent, and 2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil in a gallon of water to make a solution that will repel all kinds of bugs, as well as a fungicide for blight and mildew on the pea plant leaves. Shake it well in your bottle before spraying and repeat every week for it to be continuously effective.

Do pests attack your pea plants every year? How do you handle removing them—and even preventing them in the first place? Please tell us how you treat your pea plants to avoid pests.

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