It’sa Bug’s Life!!……Bugs like plants too! Some protect our plants, and others do harm to to our plants. So let’s talk about the good bugs vs the not so good bugs.
Pest insects are one of the biggest factors when it comes to failed cannabis crops. Pests eat cannabis roots, strip leaves bare, and even go after the buds.
Having a PEST problem is no fun! It honestly was one of my biggest fears when I was in the beginning stages of growing, but with a little knowledge, and some learning curves, I am now able to assess and address the situation if I need too.
First let’s talk about the most common pests that love to wreak havoc on your cannabis plants.
- Fungus Gnats
- Leaf Miners
- Spider Mites
- Slugs and snails.
Quite the list right? Don’t worry it can be dealt with! We always want to keep a close eye not only on our plants, but also on our environment so that we can prevent these issues before they even start. Outdoor growing you are going to be more prone to these kinds of things, but that’s not to say you won’t also deal with these things indoors. A lot of people have the misconception that if you grow indoors that these things will never happen…Not true. Trust me when I tell you, It happens.
I highly recommend researching each of these pests, and become familiar with what they look like, and how they operate. Knowing the signs and symptoms are very important. Wherever you live, there will always be a risk when it comes to pests entering your garden. Make sure you take all the possibilities into consideration and setup your grow space in way that minimizes the chance of any pest ruining your hard work.
Now that you are able to identify the common pests found in cannabis plants, focus on learning how to treat each of them. Having a solution ready for if a pest strikes means the problem is less likely to spread before you can do anything about it. Keep track of the environment and regularly monitor your plants so you know you're doing everything you can to prevent animals, bugs and fungus from plaguing your beautiful crops.
Quick Tip! Whenever you spray plants with anything, make sure to get the undersides of the leaves too, as this is where many pests like to hang out! A sprayer/Mister is also really helpful for spraying leaves. At Mass Hydroponics we highly recommend Rainmaker products. Rainmaker Sprayers come in a variety of different sizes for any growers needs.
Ok now let’s talk about ways to prevent pests from attacking our crops.
The best way to avoid any possible pest problems is by starting out with a secure environment for your crops to thrive in. If you are choosing to cultivate your plants indoors, this won’t be all that difficult. Indoor spaces are usually quite isolated from the outside world, and utilizing a reputable grow tent of some sort can further create this protective barrier. Grow tents can also be used for those who are growing outdoors, for they too produce a sealed space that protects not only against bugs, but against other elements that can impact cannabis crops as well. A few of the grow tents that we use and recommend are Lighthouse, AC Infinity, Gorilla Grow Tent. Very Reliable and reputable brands.
There are two things to consider when choosing the best environment for your plants; how easy is the space to clean, and how isolated and sealed-off is the environment?
Once you’ve got your sealed barrier up to keep your crops protected, proper cleaning and sanitization practices should be taken. Sometimes, pests can attach to clothing and other materials entering your garden, so by keeping a pair of clean clothes and shoes nearby your grow room to change into each time you enter your growing area, you can help to prevent any possible outbreaks. Additionally, always handle your crops with gloves and other protective gear. Lastly, sanitize all the tools and devices you use to handle your crops, spraying these items with either an alcohol solution or hydrogen peroxide. Also highly recommend keeping your pets out of your grow room as they can very easily carry pests into your grow area, and they can also very easily damage your crops as well! So as much as we love our animals and want them to be everywhere with us, Our grow spaces should be off limits for them.
Tools for Early Detection of Pests
One of the best ways to notice an infestation or the appearance of pests relatively early is through the use of fly strips. This helpful tool can be placed nearby your crops and used as a method of monitoring if or when any bugs arise. Daily monitoring of these strips will help you notice if there are any bugs present, because you’ll see them sticking to the strips. Using this helpful tool can allow you to exterminate any insects before they even transform into a full-blown infestation, which means a lot less work for you in the long run. At Mass Hydroponics we carry sea bright laboratories Sticky traps, which we also use in our own gardens. Yellow traps attract a broad spectrum of flying insects, including: Aphids, whiteflies, leafhoppers, Fungus Gnats, Froghoppers, and moths. Blue Traps attract and catch Thrips and Leafminers.
Study Your Plants Closely!
Another great way to get rid of unwanted little buggers is to employ the help of predatory insects to hunt them down and reduce their populations. These are also called beneficial insects. While the others wreak havoc on our gardens, beneficial insects do our plants a world of good! Predatory species hunt down pests and keep your cannabis plants from harm, and pollinators fertilize your crops. These life forms add to the biodiversity of a garden, a term that describes the wealth of life within a certain area.
Why bother with biodiversity? Because the more life, the better. If you set out to remove everything in your garden and spared only your prized plants, they’d soon perish. Adding and attracting beneficial insects to your garden helps to protect your plants, boost biodiversity, and improve the quality of your crops.
The main benefits of using insects in your cannabis garden include:
- Pest control
- Pollination of edible plants
- Boosts biodiversity
- Prevents the spread of disease
Now I bet you are asking yourself how do you find these beneficial insects and introduce them to your garden. Do I capture them myself? Do I go off into the woods and hunt them down? Actually there’s a couple different ways that you can obtain them very easily!
First one… Companion Plants! What are companion plants? Companion plants are other plants that grow around your plant of choice and draw in the good guys! They also improve soil health, capture nitrogen, and offer a harvest of their own. By raising plants that beneficial insects love, you can attract them into your garden with little effort.
Heres a few companion plants that you might consider.
Thyme: This tasty culinary herb attracts butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects. It’s low maintenance and produces compounds that help to protect the good guys.
Dill : This herb protects against spider mites and caterpillars and attracts ladybugs—the ultimate aphid hunter!
Borage : Bees love borage! The herb also draws in hoverflies. The larvae of this species love to eat aphids.
Lavender : This herb produces a pleasant aroma and adds colour to the garden. The flowers repel pests and attract beneficial species that protect cannabis plants.
Dandelion: Often regarded as a weed, dandelion is actually a superfood. It adds a nutritional kick to salads and attracts hoverflies and beetles.
Nasturtiums: This plant is easy to grow and puts out colourful flowers that serve as a landing platform for a host of beneficial insects.
As for the beneficial insects there are a few of them but let’s talk about most well known. The Top Dogs of the predatory insect world!
Ladybugs are a powerful pest management tool. Both the adult and larval forms make aphids a staple of their diet. Adult ladybugs have a lifespan of 2–3 years and eat up to 25 aphids per day. However, their late-stage larvae consume up to 250 aphids per day to fuel their growth spurts.
Ladybugs rely on aphids to survive and raise their young. They strategically lay their eggs among aphid colonies. Upon hatching, the larvae get to work feeding on these plant pests . Adults and larvae also hunt down and devour the eggs of moths, beetles, mites, and thrips.
Growers can buy live ladybugs from nurseries and garden centers. Of course, these critters are able to fly away after being deployed. However, they are in constant search of water and nectar. Make a small DIY pond and plant colorful flowers and they’ll likely stick around.
To attract and keep these aphid hunters in your garden, plant these companion species:
Praying mantises are masters of stealth and patience. Their mobile heads and big eyes enable them to scan their surroundings for food, while their bodies remain frozen still and camouflaged. They stalk their prey for days at a time and strike at the neck to dispatch their target. These skilled hunters will eat anything they can manage and have an affinity for aphids, caterpillars, and whiteflies.
Place praying mantis eggs throughout your garden to unleash a hoard of insect-killing machines. Hatching can take up to 6 weeks depending on the age of the eggs. One hatched, the young will disperse throughout the garden.
Praying mantises love large and bushy shrubs to use as homes and hunting grounds. Plant these species to attract them to your garden:
The sight of mites is enough to send a grower’s heart rate through the roof. However, not all mites are bad! Predatory mites are an effective form of biological pest control and actively seek and destroy problematic species.
These good guys patrol cannabis plants and munch down on slower herbivorous spider mites. Although they look similar, you can tell predatory mites apart by their shiny appearance and longer legs.
Spider mites do considerable damage and cause leaves to start falling off of plants. They pierce the surface of fan leaves and begin sucking out chlorophyll, leaving a fine, web-like substance in their wake (hence their name).
Growers can use predatory mites to target spider mites with pinpoint accuracy. Instead of risking damaging your plants with wipes and sprays, apply a bottle of commercially available mites directly onto affected plants. Wait 7–10 days after taking this curative measure before applying again if needed.
There’s one plant that will attract more predatory mites to your garden than any other: Mint! Sow seeds directly into containers and place them around the borders of garden beds and greenhouses. Avoid sowing mint inside beds or directly in the ground, as it can quickly overrun a garden.
Well there you have it on a few of the Top Predatory Insects!
Now on to talking a little bit about a few different products to have in the grow cabinet that you can also use to eliminate a pest problem.
So there are a variety of different products you can use in your garden, some more potent than others. I am going to run down a list of some of the products that we carry here at Mass Hydroponics that will aid you in your success of eliminating unwanted visitors. As always, it’s a good idea to always do your research, or talk to a grow expert before introducing anything new into your garden. Especially when introducing pesticides.
- Lost Coast Plant Therapy
- Mammoth Canna Control (Fungicide and Pesticide)
- The Amazing Dr. Zymes (Fungicide and Insecticide)
- Athena IPM
- Garden Essentials Neem Oil
- SNS 217 and 217C (for spider mites)
- Monterey all natural mite and insect control
- Green Cleaner (for pest insects, mites, and fungal disease)
- Flying Skull Nuke’ Em (Insecticide and fungicide)
I always suggest monitoring your plants closely, and taking all the proper precautions, while keeping your grow area as clean and sanitized as possible!!
Well there you have it! Hopefully that helps you get a better understanding on pest/pest management and as always if you have any questions, please come visit us at Mass Hydroponics and we will be more than happy to assist you further and answer anymore questions you may have.