Cannabis, just like other plants, is subject to attack by pests. It doesn’t matter whether you are cultivating it indoors or outdoors. The cycle of nature and life in generals indicates that there’s a relationship between plants and insects, birds, and animals, etc. Because these threats are always going to be there, it’s important to learn about them and how you can rid them from your cannabis plants.
Common Cannabis-Affecting Pests
Cannabis is a plant that’s prone to pest attacks. There is a massive number of insects and pest which interfere with the growth of these plants. These pests usually attack different parts of the plant including the leaves, buds, and stems. Some of the most common pests that attack cannabis plants include:
They are the most common types of pests that attack cannabis plants. Whiteflies are about 2 millimeters long. They have the same characteristics as spider mites because they tend to hide under the leaves. They suck nutrients out of the plants leaving it with nutrient-deficiency.
When whiteflies attack your pot plants, the effects are hazardous. These pests usually spread disease rapidly from plant to plant. They not only damage the leaves but also cause the plant to be generally weak. If you notice a plant is infested with whiteflies, quickly remove it from the rest. This way you will significantly reduce its spread.
They are a bit longer than whiteflies. Fungus Gnats measure between 3 to 5 millimeters long. These are unattractive pests which cause serious damage. These unpleasant gnats usually cause extensive root damage. They completely weaken cannabis plants. Fungus Gnats thrive in wet or moist soil. And it’s for this reason why the cannabis growing environment is an attractive habitat for them.
This is another group of destructive pests. Aphids love to attack cannabis plants and cause serious damage. They come in varying sizes i.e. 1-10 millimeter long. These pests usually have a green color but others are sometimes black, red, or white. Aphids tend to stick on stems and leaves. The feed on the cannabis plant and result in curling leaves. Additionally, they also make the leaves wilt and they may eventually turn yellow and die.
Grasshoppers and Crickets
Once crickets or grasshoppers attack your cannabis plants, you need an instant and effective intervention. These pests quickly turn cannabis plants into their primary food. They will overfeed on the plants, day and night, and cause massive damage within a few hours.
When spider mites attack your pot plants, prepare yourself for a devastating effect. Spider mites are tiny black or ted critters that measure less than a millimeter long. They love to stay underneath the leaves of cannabis plants. These pests are notoriously web developers. Once spider mites attack your cannabis plants, they will wilt, the leaves will turn yellow, and some may even die. Additionally, they also interfere with the growth rate of the plant. There are some instances where these pests can alter the development of buds or stunt the growth of the plants.
Just like their name suggests, leaf miners feast on anything that has leaves. They tend to draw nutrients from the leaves. They also leave white or brown streaks on the leaf tops. The best way to control their spread is by manually removing them. These burrowing pests will also leave larvae under the leaves.
Although they might attack your plants in small numbers, mealy bugs can cause massive damage. They normally live on crevices and tend to leave behind cotton-like balls. When mealy bugs attack your cannabis, they cause discoloration.
They have similar characteristics as crickets and grasshoppers. Caterpillars usually feast on leafy plants because they are usually at a stage where they have uncontrolled hunger cravings. These pests will therefore completely destroy cannabis plants in case of an attack. It’s very easy to notice caterpillars but some of them love burrowing.
Slugs and Snails
They are some of the most disgusting pests. Slugs and snails cause a lot of damage in just a few days. However, it’s easy to notice these pests and take the necessary action. They are non-discreet attackers which leave shiny trails of slime wherever they pass.
Ants and Birds
Ants are pests that tend to burrow. They attack the root of the cannabis plants, resulting in wilting and eventually death. Besides that, these pests are also indicators that other pests e.g. whiteflies and aphids have infested your cannabis. On the other hand, birds are extremely helpful pests that may remove other attackers. They feast on caterpillars and ants. However, they love seeds which means that they might eat up your cannabis seeds even before they sprout.
Tools for Early Detection of Pests
The best and easiest way to detect pest infestation is by using fly strips. You can purchase these beneficial tools and then place them near your cannabis plants. Fly strips monitor and check when the pests arise. They are perfect for daily monitoring because they will help you know if there are any pests around. What makes them effective is that if there is a new infestation, the pests will also stick on the strips. This is an important early detection tool that can help you manage and control the attack before it becomes full-blown.
How to Get Rid of Cannabis Pests
While it’s important to protect your plants and the surrounding environment from pests, sometimes it’s not possible to control the attack. At this point, the only way you can protect your plants is to get rid of the pests. Some of the methods, products, or techniques that are effective include:
There are certain products which are efficient in the elimination of pests. They include over-the-counter-products as well as items found in the kitchen. Some of the best products that you can use to rid your cannabis plants of pests include:
- Citrus oil: Combine citrus oil with soap, cayenne pepper, and water. This is an effective natural pesticide for eliminating slugs, snails, and ants.
- Neem oil: This is a powerful organic product. Neem oil is a versatile pest controller that kills all insects. To make it, place the oil in a spray bottle and then add warm water and organic soap.
- Diluted dish liquid: This is an effective remedy for eliminating crickets and grasshoppers.
- Onion and garlic sprays: These are effective natural repellant for most insects. Onion and garlic are organic products which are available in almost every kitchen.
- Salt spray: It’s an effective repellant for eliminating spider mites and other insects. Salt spray dehydrates bugs and their larvae.
- Cornmeal: They deter ants from attacking your plants.
Scarecrows and Fences
If you are growing marijuana outdoors, you might need scarecrows and fences. A reflective object is important in deterring birds that tend to feed on cannabis seeds. On the other hand, a fence is great in deterring large pests such as cats, dogs, and deer. Growing cannabis indoors you might need to build some protection as well if you have pets that have the potential to destroy your plant
Sometimes it’s not possible to use the above-mentioned products, fences, and scarecrows to deter these pests. Another great way to rid them from your plants is by using natural predators. The best natural predators include ladybug. They eat other bugs and their larvae. Other natural predators include:
- Ground beetles: They eat slugs and snails
- Lacewing: They feast on thrips, aphids, mealybugs, and whiteflies
- Damsel bugs: They binge eat on a wide range of pests which include leafhoppers, aphids, thrips, and caterpillars.
- Praying mantises and wasp: They love caterpillars
How to Protect Your Cannabis Plants from Pests
While the techniques or methods above are effective in minimizing the effects of pests and eliminating bugs, it’s important to also take preventative measures. There are various ways which you can protect your plants even before the attack. Some of these protective techniques include:
Growing Companion Plants
It’s possible to use other plants to deter and rid pests or bugs from your cannabis plants. Companion plants contain certain types of scents or chemicals which put off bugs from attacking your cannabis plant. A great type of companion plant is basil and it helps to rid bugs quickly. Others include pepper, garlic, and mint plants.
Sterilizing Your Soil and Fertilizer
There is no better way of protecting your seedlings and plants other than sterilizing the soil. This helps to minimize the chances of burrowing pests from hatching under the soil. Generally, sterilizing your fertilizer and soil creates an unattractive environment for larvae to thrive in.
Pests and bugs can cause massive damage and mess up your overall cannabis harvest. As a grower, it’s therefore important to be aware of the common pests that affect these plants. In addition to that, learning how to get rid of them and protecting your plants is vital for high yields.