While pests are undesirable for the successful cultivation of any crop, they eventually find their way to your Cannabis crop and having prior knowledge of what to expect and a range of solutions to handle the situation will keep you steps ahead of the invading bugs and safeguard your harvest.
Common Cannabis Pests
Cannabis plants are susceptible to pest invasions like most other plants and these pests pose significant risks for your plants as they can greatly lower production and diminish your returns. Whether you are growing your plants in an indoor setting or the outdoors, here are some pests to look out for and protect your crop:
Hemp Russet Mites
These mites are hardly visible and require a magnifying glass or an accurate knowledge of signs and symptoms of their presence for identification. As the name suggests, they are exclusive to the hemp plant.
- Curled leaf edges
- Dying buds
- Yello or beige leaf color
- Dull, brittle leaves
- Drooping plant tips
Whiteflies are easy to notice as they are fly when the plant is shaken. Their population can be deceiving as they hide under the leaf and only come out in the evenings or early morning. They multiply rapidly and cause massive problems when not controlled.
- White clusters under leaves
- Sticky whitefly honeydew coating
- Yellowing leaves
- Slow growth and development
- Dark mold on leaves
Aphids are visible and come in various colors and some species are winged while others are not. Homegrown Cannabis Company admits that aphids are common pests in Cannabis plants, based on their experiences and that of their clients
- Sticky honeydew deposits
- Dark sooty mold fungus
- Yellow leaves
Spider mites are microscopic pests that spread rapidly in high temperatures and are found on the underside of leaves, especially in soil-grown plants. Their tiny size means they can rapidly multiply without notice.
- Yellow spots on leaves
- Silk webbing on buds and plants
- Dirty leaf appearance
These are easily seen due to the distinct marks they leave behind on leaves. They are larva, whose activity is marked by pale patterns on the leaves as the organisms burrow in the soil.
- Winding pale markings
- Presence of larva within the leaf membrane
Mealybugs have a white appearance and thrive in warm temperatures, commonly affecting outdoor plants. They are prevalent in highly humid environments and feed on plant sap.
- Sticky leaf surface
- Dark sooty fungus
- White mold appearance
- Webbing on the leaf
Caterpillars affect most plants; Cannabis included and can quickly decimate a plant’s leaf cover when present in large numbers. Caterpillar infested leaves have holes and numerous holes point to a large infestation.
- Holes on leaves
- Dark spots on buds
- Tiny black droppings
- Presence of butterflies
These seemingly harmless creatures are detrimental to your Cana plants as they can clear huge chunks of vegetation when present in large numbers.
- Leaf damage and punctures
- Rapid leaf damage
- Eaten or damaged seedlings
There are various ways to control pest populations for better yields and less-stressful conditions for the plant to grow.
Growing from Seed
Pests can easily be transferred from seedlings and propagating using weed seeds is offers better protection from pests. Pests such as Hemp Russet Mites cannot penetrate hemp seeds and plants grown from seeds are better protected from them.
Most pests have natural predators, who can be introduced to their territory to control their population. A good example is the spiny stink-bu, which is known for feeding on caterpillars. These predators play a big role in integrated pest management programs.
Sticky traps are fairly common and ideal for trapping light pests like whiteflies and they work by trapping them on their surface. The yellow color on the strips attracts many whiteflies, who get stuck once they land on the sticky part and die immobilized on the traps.
Pathogen Free Growing Medium
Whether you are growing your plants on soil or in a hydroponic system, it is crucial to ensure your medium is free from pathogens. One way of safely ensuring this is sterilizing your growing medium. Soil sterilization is popular in greenhouses as a way of preventing re-infestations with pests from the previous season.
Pest Repelling Plants
Using pest repelling plants to control pest populations is also known as a push-pull method. Pest repelling plants are planted around the protected plant or in the surrounding and act by attracting the insects and later trapping them. Plants like basil and marigolds have repellant properties and are part of integrated pest management systems.
Permethrin is useful for the control of a wide number of insects affecting cannabis. It is applied a few feet from the protected plant and effectively kills and repels some. Some states have proper guidelines on acceptable Permethrin levels, which should guide your application process.
Neem Based Insecticides
The neem plant is a versatile plant with numerous benefits, including pest control. Neem based insecticides are effective for controlling various pests and are particularly the preferred pest control for Cannabis plants. It is applied for the control of spider mites and whiteflies while leaving out useful insects like ladybugs.
Many farmers have used diatomaceous earth as a natural pest control method for ages. It works by attacking an insect’s hard protective skin, exposing pests to dehydration and eventual death. Additionally, it can be used continuously as insects are unable to develop resistance against its effects.
Small scale farmers can largely benefit from home-made insect-repelling concotions, which are not only safe but economical and easy to create. A few home-made repellants include:
Chilli Pepper Concoctions
Chilli pepper spray is harsh to most insects and will repel them when sprayed around the plants. Adding some soap allows the chili spray to spread on the surface more effectively. Onion and garlic powder can be added for greater potency.
Garlic’s strong smell is a great repellant for many pests and has been shown to possess antibiotic properties. Garlic cloves can be placed in strategic positions around the plants to keep insects at bay.
Oil-based sparays work by providing an airtight coating on the pest’s surface, suffocating it in the process. They are ideal for the control of whiteflies, mealy bugs, aphids, among others.
Soap sprays penetrate the hard outer covering of pests without harming the plants or human beings. They are most effective when sprayed several times to achieve proper coverage, which is needed for effective control.