What Is Eating My Pea Plants? Causes, Solution & Prevention

If you enjoy eating veggies, you should definitely try growing some peas in your home. Peas are beautiful plants to have around in the house and a fantastic way to ensure that you get enough nutrition from your diet. Peas contain many nutrients, including vitamins and antioxidants. So, if you want to add a little more health to your life, cultivating peas is for you! In this article, let’s talk about what is eating my pea plant and how to prevent them.

what is eating my pea plant

Photo Credit US Department Of Agriculture

Unfortunately, many pests and insects love peas just as much as humans do. For the average gardener, this can be quite problematic since you can wake up to discover your cherished peas mutilated and full of holes.

Examining the damage that has been inflicted on the pea plants is the first step in determining what kind of insect or other creature is responsible. Nevertheless, when it comes to feasting on peas, the most common culprits are aphids, snails, pea moths, pea weevils, and other small critters such as chipmunks, deer, and rabbits.

So, let’s discuss them one by one!

Common Pea Plant Pests

It doesn’t matter if you’re growing snap, garden variety, or oriental pod peas—the average home gardener can run into several issues with any type of peas. Moreover, every year, pea crops are damaged by pea insect pests on a vast scale. 

So, it becomes imperative that you identify the pests involved in damaging the peas in your garden. Then and only then will you be able to control the situation appropriately.

RELATED: 10 Best Natural Pest Control Remedies for Garden!

Weevils

Weevils - what is eating my pea plant

Photo Credit Pest pea weevils are tiny, brownish-black insects with white zigzag patterns across their backs.

Pea weevils are actually beetles, not weevils. Therefore, they ought to be referred to as pea beetles. They are one of the most destructive pests that can attack field peas. In addition to lowering yields, they can negatively impact grain quality, seed germination rates, and the commercial value of peas for human consumption.

Their color makes them easier to spot and identify on pea plants. Weevils reproduce very quickly and lay their eggs inside the pea pods during the spring season. 

Larvae of pea weevils will feed on the pea seeds inside the pods. Once mature, weevils will start munching on pea leaves and stems, causing damage to the entire plant.

Control

Getting rid of weevils could be challenging at times. That is because their larvae hide inside the pea pods. This renders insecticides useless as they cannot be sprayed inside the pods. The best time to spray weevils is in their adult stage when they are feeding on the leaves and stems. Carbaryl and Sevin are frequently found in good pesticide sprays.

Aphids

Aphids

Photo Credit Adult pea aphids have a delicate body, move slowly, and have a light to dark green color.

Aphids are tiny pests that are difficult to spot on peas because of their green color and excellent hiding skills. However, they are usually found on the underside of the pea plant leaves. Aphids suck leaf sap, causing leaf deformities and discoloration due to the lack of nutrients. If you notice aphids on pea plants in your garden, you need to act in time as they multiply rapidly and can wreak havoc on your garden in a very short time.

Control

Neem oil & soapy water effectively eradicate aphids from the pea plants in your garden. However, you will have to spray the pea plants at least twice a week to get good results.

Another method of getting rid of aphids is to apply diatomaceous earth. The sharp edges of diatomaceous earth pierce through their bodies, resulting in extreme dehydration and death.

RELATED: Aphids on Indoor Houseplants: 10+ Smart Ways to Get Rid of Them!

Pea Moths

Pea Moths - what is eating my pea plant

Photo Credit

Pea moths are another major predator of pea plants. They can cause severe damage and destroy whole pea crops in a matter of weeks. They are brownish gray with winged bodies and lay their eggs on pea leaves.

On hatching, the larvae of pea moths start munching on the leaves and pea pods by boring holes in them. Once inside the pod, they eat the seeds and destroy the whole yield.

Control

The Royal Horticultural Society recommends using synthetic pyrethroids and deltamethrin for pea moths. Spray carefully on all parts of the plant to get the best results.

Avoid spraying when the peas are flowering as the insecticide may harm pollinating insects.

If you are reluctant to use insecticides, another way of protecting peas is to cover the plant with insect-proof mesh.

Birds & Small Mammals

Birds & Small Mammals

Photo Credit Jaybirds and pigeons are common pest birds of peas.

A lot of individuals don’t take into account the fact that birds can eat their valuable peas. They might, however, wreak havoc in your pea garden. Pea plants are a preferred source of food for a variety of tiny animals, including squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and even deer. When you are not around, these pests will get close to your plants and have a quick lunch.

Control

If birds are the issue, deterring them with noise from wind chimes or an outdoor radio works well. Or, once your pea plant has begun to flower, you can surround it with wire or bird netting. Small mammals can be repelled by planting and placing fragrant plants like cayenne pepper and garlic.

Diseases

As discussed earlier, diseases can also be the reason why you may find damaged pea plants in your garden. To choose the proper treatment, it is essential to tell the difference between disease-affected peas and pest-damaged peas.

Bacterial Blight

Bacterial Blight - what is eating my pea plant

Photo Credit Bacterial blight is a devastating disease affecting millions of hectares worldwide.

Bacterial blight, often known as blossom blight or branch blight, is a common disease that affects a wide variety of garden, field, and ornamental plants and can be quite damaging. It is mainly caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae, among others.

Bacterial blight infection initially resembles shiny, dark-green water spots on pea leaves which later become irregular, thinner, and lighter in the center. If not treated in time, the disease can spread to the entire plant and damage pea pods and young buds.

Control

To avoid bacterial blight, it is essential to use disease-free, resistant seeds from registered distributors. Do not plant seeds from other sources even if they appear to be healthy. Keeping the soil under pea plants free from debris and rotating crops yearly can also prevent the incidence of bacterial blight.  

RELATED: Vegetable Downy Mildew Disease: Its Identification and Management for Good!

Root Rot

Root Rot - what is eating my pea plant

 Photo Credit A fungal infection that damages the roots of plants that grow in damp soil.

Root rot thrives under moist conditions. Root rot can develop at any stage in plants’ life. The infection starts with roots, but in the later stages, root rot causes damage to the entire pea plant causing the leaves and shoots to turn yellow.

Unfortunately, nothing can be done once the root rot has taken hold of a plant. The only choices available are to gain an understanding of the disease, determine the risks of becoming infected with root rot, and carefully plan how to avoid the fungal infection.

Control

Carefully watering the pea plant and avoiding overwatering will help prevent root rot since it thrives in damp and moist conditions. Also, if the damage is in its early stages, infected roots can be trimmed to avoid the spread of the infection to the entire plant.

Buying disease-free, pre-fungicide-treated seeds is another way that can make a huge difference when trying to avoid root rot.

Ascochyta Blight

Ascochyta Blight - what is eating my pea plant

Photo Credit Ascochyta blight is the most severe chickpea disease worldwide.

Ascochyta blight is not a single disease but a combination of three or more fungal infections present at the same time! The fungus survives through the winter months in plant debris and infects seeds during the planting season. It can be further transmitted through wind and rain, which can carry spores from plant to plant.

Asocochyta blight causes the plant stems to become darkened, and the foliage turns yellow. In later stages of the infection, as the plant weakens, it starts dropping buds and pods. 

Control

There is no known cure for this infection since it is resistant to most of the fungicides available on the market. The best we can do to avoid this nasty infection is through crop rotation using non-susceptible crops yearly. Also, buying high-quality, disease-free seeds can help you prevent your chances of getting the disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s wrong with my pea plants?

Pea plant leaves turning white, yellow, or brown is one of the most typical problems when growing peas. These problems are typically caused by surface mildew or an underground fungus. However, if the problem with your pea plants is damaged leaves and eaten pods, insects and other small animals are to blame.

What is eating the leaves on my pea plants?

If something is eating your pea plant leaves, the most probable culprits are aphids, pea weevils, pea moths, leaf miners, birds, and small mammals. To pinpoint the culprit, you will have to examine the damage as every one of these pests has its own way of attacking and damaging the peas.

What to spray peas with?

Several options are available if you want to spray peas for pest protection. For instance, spray the leaves in the backyard garden with soapy water before rinsing with clear water. Or use an insecticidal soap spray as an alternative. If powdery mildew is the problem, spray the plants with a plant-based horticultural oil, such as neem oil.

What eats sweet pea plants?

Slugs and snails are two of the most common pests that will eat your sweet peas. They are especially fond of sweet peas while they are in their younger phases. Aphids, snails, pea moths, pea weevils, and small animals are some of the other common pests that cause damage to pea plants.

Can you spray Roundup on peas?

Roundup can be sprayed on peas. However, do not use glyphosate on pea crops that will be seeded the following year. It can result in decreased germination and poor seedling growth.

Do mice eat pea plants?

Mice can devour freshly planted pea seeds and destroy seedlings by grazing on the foliage. The best way to discourage mice from eating peas is using a simple plastic bottle! Remove the bottle’s cap to create an opening for the seedling and cover your pea plant.

Sources For Further Reading

Pea | Diseases and Pests, Description, Uses, Propagation. (2022). Retrieved 31 July 2022, from https://plantvillage.psu.edu/topics/pea/infos#

Managing Pests in Gardens: Vegetables: Pea. (2022). Retrieved 31 July 2022, from http://ipm.ucanr.edu/home-and-landscape/peas/index.html

Insect Management for Legumes (Beans, Peas). (2022). Retrieved 31 July 2022, from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IG151

Pests of Beans and Peas | NC State Extension Publications. Retrieved 31 July 2022, from https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/insect-and-related-pests-of-vegetables/pests-of-beans-and-peas

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