Q: I planted peppers six weeks ago. One morning they were completely gone! So I planted a couple more plants two weeks ago and this time we put chicken wire around them. This morning this is all that is left!
A: The clean clipping on the branch ends tells me this was done by a rodent. The two rodents most commonly living around gardens are squirrels and chipmunks. The damage I see from chipmunks is usually close to ground level. The stem will be partially chewed, so the whole plant falls over.
On the other hand, squirrels will clip the ends of branches very cleanly and will clip an entire stem near the soil.
My bet is that a squirrel did the damage.
There are no effective repellents for either of these two creatures. The best course of action is to fence them out, as you’ve done.