Deformed flowers in chili pepper plants

mrSaraf

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I recently noticed this on my outdoor chili pepper flowers, I find it difficult to describe so here are the images to start with:
Deformed flower 1.jpg
Deformed flower 2.jpg


As can be seen above, there is a green pod bulging out of the flower causing it to deform. Normally the pod starts to grow after the flower is pollinated and petals fall off. But here I am seeing it right when the flower blooms. On closer inspection I noticed that the flower buds are also deformed (the about to bloom buds are swollen since they have a green pod bulging inside). I have not seen this issue before and I was unable to find anything about it online. It would be very much helpful if anyone knows about this problem and what should be done about it. Thanks!
 

Mandy Onderwater

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Chili flowers can self-pollinate, so perhaps this is what happened. At least, that's my best bet.
Do they keep growing or do they drop off?
 

JP 1983

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The other thing it could be is gall wasps. Break one of the deformities open and see if there's a small white grub inside. Gall wasps like to lay their eggs in flower buds, which makes them puff up into a gall which looks similar to those deformities.
 

mrSaraf

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@Mandy Onderwater Yes they can self pollinate, but they can only self pollinate after blooming. Even after blooming it takes some time for the flower to produce pollen. I am observing this right when the flowers bloom and even in buds.

@JP 1983 I have noticed that they don't have the pistil. You can see that in the images as well. Only Anthers are present. I will continue to observe these to see what happens. I had considered the possibility of insects messing with it since there are normal flowers & chili pods growing on the same plant. I will look into gall wasps and also check one of the buds.
What do you suggest I do if its the wasps?

Thanks you both for the suggestions!
 

mrSaraf

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I made some more observations yesterday:
1. Normal flowers are more brighter white than the deformed ones
2. I looked into gall wasps and saw some pictures of how they enter fruits, I found a similar looking hole on a flower bud
hole on the bud.jpg


3. I cut open a deformed pod, it had black seeds inside. But I am not sure if chili seeds start black or that they are even seeds
cut deformed chili pod macro.jpg


I think we can say that it's the wasps or some other insect causing this issue. What do you suggest I do to prevent this in future? @JP 1983
 

JP 1983

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What do you suggest I do to prevent this in future? @JP 1983
Might suggest white oil applied to the flowers only. Gall wasps are pretty small, but a sticky oil-detergent suffocant applied to flowers might be enough to halt their egg-laying activity. If you're in a warm climate (daytime temps in excess of 25 degrees C), white oil use may damage flowers and chili formation, though.
 

JP 1983

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Will neem oil do the job?

And the already infected buds and flowers I will proceed to pluck off the plant.
Ive never used Neem oil so I am unaware of its mechanism of action. If it is a suffocant (i.e. it kills bugs by blocking their tracheae and thus suffocating them), then it will work as well as white oil does.

Will have to defer to @Mandy Onderwater on Neem; I've never used it.

White oil is not hard to make at home - just some leftover cooking oil + liquid detergent in a ratio I forget, and then you mix a spoon of that master brew with water in a hand sprayer and then onto the plants.
 

Mandy Onderwater

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I have indeed used eco Neem Oil. The way it works is when ingested (i.e. when a grasshopper chews on a leaf sprayed with Neem) it poisons them and they die. For it to be effective, though, it means that they need to consume a part of the plant first.
I would possibly recommend doing test patches on plants. If it's just the one plant, spray half with neem, and half with white oil (with detergent). If possible I'd recommend white oil with shade cloth so it doesn't burn the plant quite as bad as when the sun hits it straight on.

Supposedly wasps (any kind) dislike scents from the mint family (peppermint, spearmint, basil, etc). I'm not sure of the exact sciences regarding this, but it might be worth a shot if all else fails (or this is more accessible).
 

JP 1983

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Neem might work then. Gall wasps have to chew their way inside a flower bud to lay their eggs inside. Still gunna get some damaged flowers but Neem might be able to eliminate the attackers and break the life cycle.

Check your other trees and flowers in the vicinity of your chilis, mrSaraf. You might find galls and/or gall wasps on branches of other plants you might need to Neem as well.
 

mrSaraf

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These are some observations I made to identify the infected buds and flowers:
1. The buds look deformed and have a pale white/yellowish color
2. Healthy flowers are bright white while infected ones where pale white/yellowish
3. tiny hole on the bud & hole on infected/ deformed chili pods (this was on the tiny pods only, not on the already grown bigger pods)
4. Some of the infected buds just fell off on touching them
5. Some buds where having dried petals
6. And the initial observation in the question i.e. enlarged & deformed pods on the flower (refer image in the question)
 
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