It’s BUGS! – If you’re a fan of spicy food, you owe a lot to bugs, both the crawling kind and ones you can see only with a microscope. New research shows they are the ones responsible for the heat in chili peppers.
The spiciness is a defense mechanism that some peppers develop to suppress a fungus that invades through punctures made in the outer skin by insects. The fungus destroys the plant’s seeds before they can be eaten by birds and widely distributed. The pungency comes from capsaicinoids, the same chemicals that protect them from fungal attack by dramatically slowing microbial growth.