How to Protect Your Cannabis Home Grow From Pests
Published on 5/28/21
Growing cannabis can be a wonderful experience. From germination to the vegetative phase to flowering and harvest, the joy of watching something you brought to life grow and mature is special. The fact that once the buds are harvested and cured, they are ripe for enjoyment, is icing on the cake. Getting to that point is not always easy, though. As with any gardening adventure, there are environmental factors that can turn your grow into an uphill battle. Keeping marijuana pests that plague outdoor plants away should be a primary concern for anyone starting a home grow in hopes of producing luscious sticky buds.
Common Cannabis Pests
There are several types of destructive marijuana bugs that can ruin an otherwise successful home grow. They vary in size and are also drawn to different parts of the plant and can arrive at different times of the growth cycle. Outdoor grows are much more susceptible to pest risk simply because their environment cannot be controlled in the same manner as an indoor operation. The great outdoors is filled with insects, worms and flies eager to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Thrips are small insects, come in a variety of colors and operate at different speeds, depending on their stage of life and the area of the country in which they live. They like to dig into cannabis leaves and leave relatively large silver or brown spots where they eat. Neem oil has proven to be an effective thrips treatment.
These tiny (around two millimeters) white moths prefer the underside of cannabis leaves(and other common garden plants) to suck out the nutrients they crave. Newborns normally appear towards the bottom of plants and adult flies tend to prefer the tops.
Hemp Flea Beetle
Flea beetles eat cannabis leaves and flowers and can decimate a marijuana grow. Look for the small holes in the leaves that are the result of their work. Below the surface of the soil, their larvae are feeding on the roots of your plants.
No surprise here: leaf miners thrive by burrowing into the tissue of leaves. The feeding tunnel they create is actually visible in the leaves. In their tunnels, they feed on the juicy tissue of cannabis leaves while enjoying protection from predators. The leaf miner parasite wasp is an excellent weapon against these highly destructive wasps. The wasps search the surface of the leaves and use a paralyzing sting to kill the leaf miners.
Aphids are common soft-bodied insects that appear in a variety of colors depending on their stage of life and where you live. Adults are usually small and oval-shaped, and nymphs are thinner with white or pale characteristics.
Also known as Bud Worms, these creatures eat the buds and then add salt to the wound by defecating back into the cannabis, which causes mold to develop.
Spider mites are well-known for their hardy nature, translucent eggs and tiny webs. They prefer the chlorophyll inside cannabis leaves and often produce tiny white spots that indicate their presence. Ladybugs or a vacuum cleaner are most effective in eradicating these stubborn pests.
Pesticides and Cannabis
There are plenty of chemicals that can be used to eradicate pests in your cannabis grow, but pesticides have been linked to a wide range of human health issues and adding a non-organic element to your growth is counter-intuitive. It is often unclear what they contain, they can throw off the pH balance of your soil and water runoff that contains dangerous chemicals is detrimental to cannabis-friendly insects. They are toxic to your soil and soil microorganisms, your health and the well-being of animals and humans that live nearby. Pesticides also weaken your marijuana plants' root system and immune system. Why risk contaminating your cannabis grow with chemicals? The benefits of using pesticides are vastly outweighed by the negatives.
How to Keep Cannabis Bugs Away from Your Grow
This ancient technique is an excellent natural way to keep pests away from your cannabis garden. The concept is simple: surround your cannabis crop with friendly and helpful plants in order to reduce the risk of pest infestation. Companion planting also assists with nutrient refinement management and enhances soil integrity. In nature, various plants and trees grow alongside each other to create a synergy that is beneficial to all.
Emulating that natural environment will do wonders for your grow. Add herbs like basil and dill that have strong smells that repel cannabis pests. Dill will attract bugs like looper caterpillars away from your cannabis because they prefer dill over almost any other plant. It also repels aphids. Basil will attract pests like whiteflies and can also boost the production of valuable terpenes.Chamomile, sunflowers and mint are also excellent options to complement your marijuana plants.
Introduce Beneficial Insects
Ladybugs, lacewings and the aforementioned leaf miner parasite wasp can be some of your best friends in the quest for a grow with high quality and a high yield. Ladybugs love to hunt and consume massive quantities of whiteflies, aphids and spider mites. Any soft-bodied insect that is troubling your cannabis grow will be easy picking for ladybugs. Lacewings act pretty much the same way. Thrips, aphids and spider mites are their favorites.
The neem tree grows all over India and Bangladesh and is revered for its concentrated triglycerides and triterpenoids. Neem oil comes from the seed and fruit of this tree and has been used for centuries. The oil only targets the bugs that seek to eat your cannabis plants and with regular application should keep whiteflies and spider mites at bay. Mix with water and add to the soil to control root rot and assist with cannabis plant growth.
Exposing your soil to high heat prior to beginning your grow will kill off the majority of marijuana pests, as well as harmful fungi and bacteria. Till the soil thoroughly, water and cover with clear plastic. The goal should be to maintain a soil temperature of around 115F for two minutes to ensure complete sterilization.
Several compounds within the cloves of garlic have been identified as strong insecticides. The smell and intensity of garlic works well to deter pests but not harm any introduced beneficial species like lacewings and ladybugs.
Essential Oil Spray
Much like garlic, aromatic essential oils offer substantial protection for your cannabis plants.They are also full of the terpenes that plants use to defend themselves against bugs like aphids, spider mites and whiteflies.
Have you set up a successful cannabis home grow? What natural protections have you found to be most effective in your situation? Let us know in the comments section below!