What pinched my peck of peppers?
July 22, 2005 2:47 PM   Subscribe

What's stealing my jalapeño peppers? And how can I stop it/them?

I'm growing the jalapeños in a container on my roof, so I assume the culprit is some sort of bug, bird, or bat. I had several nice red ones ready to pick today, some almost as big as my thumb. But when I went outside, they were completely gone from the plant--not nibbled, just totally gone. I thought birds and other animals wouldn't eat jalapeños because they're too spicy and the capsacin acts as a natural deterrent? And my red bell peppers and red tomatoes, a more usual prey for the birds, are right next to the pepper pot and are undisturbed. What gives?
posted by Asparagirl to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Best answer: I recall reading somewhere that birds were immune to the effects of capsaicin. He's some Straight Dope on the subject.

I suppose that would rule our feathered friends out.
posted by ktrey at 2:56 PM on July 22, 2005

Best answer: Interesting fact: birds are largely immune to capsaicin.
posted by driveler at 2:58 PM on July 22, 2005

Rule out? I would think it would only increase the suspicion of those fiendish, feathered thieves.
posted by caddis at 3:07 PM on July 22, 2005

It's odd that the peppers were totally gone. In my mind that rules out bugs, because they like to stay and gnaw. Birds are a possibility. How about raccoons or possums? Or humans?
posted by Specklet at 3:15 PM on July 22, 2005

If it it's birds, you might try getting some rubber snakes and putting them near the plants where they can bee seen by the thieves as they come in for a landing. My grandmother used them successfully to keep egrets from landing on her dock and crapping all over it, so it might work.
posted by sanko at 4:02 PM on July 22, 2005

Response by poster: As far as I know, it would be impossible for raccoons and possums to get onto the roof, which is on top of an apartment building in an urban area, at least five stories up.

Humans are possible, although I probably would have heard them walking around outside my window, and access to the roof is generally limited unless, like me, your window opens up onto it. But why would they steal my peppers and not, say, my ripe cherry tomatoes?

So I guess it must be those wicked mysteriously-capsaicin-immune birds. Crap. *shakes fist at sky* Is there something organic I could spray on the plant that birds would find noxious but which wouldn't attract bugs?

And I will employ my cats as scarecrows--but since I can't let them on the roof, I'll have to make do with leaving the shade up on the window that overlooks the garden so they can impotently keep watch from inside.
posted by Asparagirl at 4:07 PM on July 22, 2005

> As far as I know, it would be impossible for raccoons and possums to get onto
> the roof, which is on top of an apartment building in an urban area, at least
> five stories up.

Rats? Where people go, rats go.
posted by jfuller at 5:39 PM on July 22, 2005

Humans, specifically neighbors. Especially if they were picked clean.
posted by blasdelf at 12:01 AM on July 23, 2005

The more I think about this, the more I have to agree with blasdelf. Perhaps it is time for an X10 camera. (Whatever happened to all those ads by the way?)
posted by caddis at 12:17 AM on July 23, 2005

Response by poster: I would rather assume it's the darn birds than my neighbors, because it's too upsetting to think people would really be stealing from my garden. I've been forcing bowls of fresh-picked vegetables on my in-laws, my husband's bosses, and just about anyone who will care to take some of the extra produce off my hands, and I would gladly have given some to any neighbors if only they'd asked. :-(
posted by Asparagirl at 4:29 PM on July 23, 2005

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