Whenever you grow cannabis plants, or any plant for that matter, there are certainly some risks that come with it. One of the major things that growers should look out for is undoubtedly the presence of spider mites, leaf miners, moths, and even root aphids. If these pests are not placed under control, then they may end up eating away on your plants and rendering your buds useless. While this is something that might be challenging to deal with, there are a few simple tips that you can do in order to help you out!
Now, the first thing to remember is that pests, most especially spider mites, thrive in unsanitary growing areas. This means that growers should always monitor their gardens and keep it as highly regulated as possible. But what exactly are the different kinds of pests? How do you deal with them?
Learning The Basics: Some Tips and Tricks
Just because there are currently no pests such as spider mites and grasshoppers in your garden does not mean that they won’t eventually come! As early as possible, try doing what you can in order to keep these nasty nuisances off your precious weed buds.
Here are some basic tips that you can use to tweak your everyday gardens. Keep in mind that following them won’t necessarily guarantee you complete immunity from marijuana pests! However, they can definitely reduce the chances of these pests from contaminating your weed crops.
Closing Off Your Garden is Key!
If you have a cannabis garden, assigning a specific place exclusively for your plants is a great starting point! In many gardens, all sorts of cultivating tools, equipment, and even other plants tend to be scattered around the growing area. While this doesn’t really seem all that dangerous at first, having an untidy area will definitely attract pests like spider mites to your garden.
Now, this is much easier to do in an indoor grow room mainly because indoor gardens are actually designed to be secluded! On the other hand, outdoor gardens can be sealed in various ways. Using a fence and installing it around your gardens is a great option.
Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be anything fancy! A few bamboo shoots or wooden planks could make for a very durable garden fence.
Don’t Get Too Crazy With The Insecticides
A lot of people tend to overuse insecticides as a means to keep filthy pests and insects away from their crops. While this might seem like an effective solution, the long-term effects of these products may be very damaging to your plants.
Insecticides contain various chemicals and toxins that are poisonous and detrimental. Exposing your plants to too much of these might lead to their hindered growth and development!
Keep in mind that insecticides aren’t all bad. Using them in small doses can actually do well to prevent the build-up of insect homes and spider mite’s colonies in your marijuana growing area. Moreover, there are lots of natural and organic pesticides that make use of alcohol, baking soda, and even crops like garlic! These are much safer routes to take.
Sterilize Your Tools and Equipment
When gardening and maintaining your cannabis plants, you will undoubtedly use all sorts of tools and equipment. If you aren’t careful, these can be carriers of insects to make their way into your weed buds. One way to avoid this is by regularly cleaning and sterilizing the things that you normally use in cultivating weed plants. This includes the growing medium and different soil amendments that you use!
Not only will insects and pests like spider mites be able to hide in your growing media, they will also have the tendency to breed. Make sure to keep all your equipment in a clean space. Also, seal them sufficiently to prevent any bugs from entering your soil sacks and bags!
Rodents and Domestic Animals Are Also Carriers
In addition to them trampling your cannabis plants, rodents may also act as agents for spider mites, fleas, and other pests to enter your growing area. If you allow them to run around freely in your gardens, the chances of contamination will definitely increase! Try to keep them away from your crops as much as possible!
Different Pests To Look Out For
Unfortunately for us, there is a long list of different pests and insects that you can find shelter in your weed gardens! While they will all pose a significant threat to your buds, each one of them might look and behave quite differently from one another.
As such, it is important to know and differentiate how these bugs would look. That way, you will have a general idea of how to get rid of them in the event that they do show themselves in your gardens!
- Spider Mites
- Spider mites are colloquially considered as the worst pest that can contaminate your garden! They are especially dangerous when they start building homes near your gardens. Spider mites are known to have very high reproduction rates. In just a span of a week, you can find thousands of them in your plants! They are generally attracted to the presence of chlorophyll in plants, which they use to sustain their eggs and continue mass breeding.
- What do they look like? Spider mites look like a mix of a flea and a spider. They have very small oval bodies along with six to eight legs. Spider mites aren’t insects as much as they are arachnids. This makes them quite easy to spot compared to other types of pests.
- How they damage your plants: Spider mites cause damage by sucking away the chlorophyll content in your plants. This will lead to little holes and/or yellow spots developing around the leaves and stem! Moreover, the sticky web substances are hard to remove especially if it thickens. The decrease in chlorophyll content in your cannabis plants may also lead to them not being able to photosynthesize.
- Leaf Miners
- Leaf miners are a very robust and dangerous form of pest that can be quite difficult to get rid of. While they do not necessarily come in the same volume as other pests, leaf miners are typically harder to get rid of. Their immunity to different insecticides and solutions make them all the more harder to deal with!
- What do they look like? Leaf miners start off as fat, little larvaes that look similar to a miniature caterpillar. But as they mature, they sprout into flies that are characterized by their yellow color.
- How they damage your plants: As the name states, leaf miners will do damage by burrowing holes into the leaves and stems of your plants! They are most dangerous in their larvae state as leaf miners will make homes inside the stems. This harms the plants because the pests drain them of all their needed nutrients.
- Root Aphids
- Root aphids, or simply aphids, are one of the hardest pests to find due to their extremely small size. Oftentimes, growers will only be able to see them only when they have amassed in large numbers. Additionally, they will usually place themselves underneath the cannabis plant’s leaves. Root aphids also generally tend to spread through your gardens with amazing speed. One second, your plants are completely fine. But in the next, they will start displaying symptoms of damage and nutrient deficiency!
- What do they look like? As we said above, root aphids are very, very small. Up close, they are circular bugs with small wings. But seeing numerous small dots underneath your leaves is a clear indication of an aphid infestation.
- How they damage your plants: Like spider mites, root aphids are extremely dangerous as they tend to be very fast breeders. Some female aphids may even produce new offspring up to 10 times per day. Root aphids start eating your cannabis plants from the bottom of the leaves. This lowers a plant’s immune system and exposes them to a higher risk of catching viruses and diseases! Furthermore, the presence of root aphids also attracts other pests and contaminants such as ants, whiteflies, and mealy bugs.
- Grasshoppers/ Crickets
- Grasshoppers and crickets are a known insect all across the world. They are found in just about any place with vegetation, However, this isn’t necessarily a good thing especially for plants that produce consumable flowers. You see, these pests have the tendency to rack up quite an appetite. And their diet consists mainly of, well….plants. Things start getting really bad when they find your cannabis garden appealing, which leads to them making it their main source of food.
- What do they look like? Everyone has probably seen or at least heard of what crickets and grasshoppers look like. Grasshoppers are green insects with elongated bodies and large eyes. Their sizes depend mainly on how old they are as they do have the tendency to be a lot bigger than other insects. Crickets are usually brown, miniature versions of grasshoppers. However, they have fairly round bodies and fatter abdomens.
- How they damage your plants: As we said, crickets and grasshoppers will munch down on your cannabis plants. This can be observed by the bite marks and missing chunks in the leaves, branches, and stems of your marijuana plants. One annoying feature that they have is they usually do their damage during the nighttime. This makes them hard to bait out during the day.
- Fungus gnats are very common in marijuana gardens due to the rich soils and abundant minerals found in the growing media. They are pests that come in large hordes that can be extremely difficult to treat. But instead of physically damaging your plants, these fungus gnats tend to make your plants susceptible to other forms of diseases and viruses.
- What do they look like? Fungus gnats in cannabis gardens start off as white larvaes usually found at the bottom portion of the plants. As they grow, they turn into small, black flies with a dark head and long antennae.
- How they damage your plants: The larvae of fungus gnats will usually make the base of your plants their homes. As they start searching for minerals and nutrients, they burrow themselves along the roots! This sucks out the roots of any nutrients and significantly damages the drainage system and quality of your growing medium. As they develop into their nasty, mature forms, they fly around your plants. Fungus gnats tend to reduce the strength of your cannabis crop and lead to other serious problems.
How to Deal and Get Rid of the Different Pests
Now, each of the pests listed above pose a significant risk of damaging your weed crops. Moreover, they will tend to act and behave differently from one another. Constantly using pesticides won’t cut it! You will have to know how to individually deal with them if you want to save your cannabis crop from further contamination.
Here are ways on how to deal with different marijuana pests and insects:
Because of the vast number that spider mites come in, you will want to avoid them at all costs before they wreak havoc on your cannabis plants. To prevent the infestation of spider mites, regularly clean and sanitize your growing area. Be patient enough to pick up any debris and stray leaves that may have fallen off your plants. This gives the spider mites no opportunity to build their nests and colonies nearby.
Additionally, regularly trim and top your plants in order to keep them less tangled. It may seem simple and straightforward but doing so can save you from those nasty spider mites!
However, if you do find yourself already dealing with spider mites in your cannabis gardens, there are a few things that you can do. If your plants are still in the early stages of their cycle and have no flowers yet, simply take a hose and carefully rinse them off. Placing a bucket underneath is perfect for catching and discarding them! We wouldn’t want the crawling back up to your plants now, would we?
If your flowering plants do contract spider mites during their mature stages, do not worry. Using neem oil and gently spraying it all over your plants helps fight them off and kill any spider mites that may have built up in your leaves. Neem oil is an organic oil-based pesticide that contains no toxins at all. This makes it safe to use in your marijuana garden without rendering the buds dangerous for consumption.
Unlike other types of pests in a cannabis garden, leaf miners are quite stubborn when it comes to dealing with them. Organic and low-toxin pesticides won’t normally do the trick as leaf miners tend to be unaffected by them. On the other hand, more potent solutions might get them off but at the expense of damaging your plants!
The best option that you have is seeking them out and individually plucking them away from your leaves. This may seem like a lot of effort but it is the only feasible way to deal with these nuisances.
Root aphids are generally less risky than others. For one, they are all part of a lifecycle that sees them being eaten or consumed by other bugs such as dragonflies and beetles. However, it is impractical to wait for nature to do its part while the aphids start chomping away on your weed plants!
Aphids react negatively to some organic substances, which is very safe for your gardens. One solution you can make is tomato leaf water or garlic water. Simply take some tomato leaves or garlic and oil. Next, mix these into a cup of mineral water. As it rests for a day to two, all the preventive properties of these products transfer into the water. Afterwards, simply take the solution and pour it at the base of your plants. This gives root aphids little to no room to burrow.
Because they usually work during the night, the best thing to do about these bad boys is spray your plants with an organic pesticide solution. This pushes away any grasshoppers and crickets from eating your plants due to the unpleasant tastes of the pesticide. Anything from baking powder, dishwashing liquid, ethanol, and even rock meal are all great bases for natural-made pesticides.
Remember, fungus gnats usually burrow themselves in moist and damp soils. This allows them to breed and reproduce more gnats that will eventually destroy your growing areas.
Avoid overwatering your soil in order to keep any excess water away. While it cannot be avoided that your cannabis plants will need to be watered, placing heat packs around your growing medium helps dry it out faster. Paper towels also make a great substitute.
Simply take a few sheets and scatter them around the base of your plants. Not only does this soak up any excess water, it prevents female gnats from burrowing underneath the soil and planting any eggs inside.
There are definitely a lot of different pests and insects to look out for in your cannabis garden. With the likes of spider mites, gnats, and aphids posing a threat to your weed crop, growers should always be mindful of their garden’s cleanliness.
At the end of the day, no grower wants to see their crops go to waste. Cannabis seeds and buds are quite a luxurious commodity considering the prices for them. As such, it is always best to prevent marijuana pests from contaminating your plants! Do it before its too late!