Dealing with an insect or pest infestation in your garden is a real pain in the a**. Seriously – no one likes dealing with this stuff. But unfortunately, anytime a live thing is involved, there is always a chance for infection or infestation. When you choose to grow cannabis, you are also willing to accept the potential risks that may be involved with this process, which includes crop wipeout due to unwanted crawly visitors.
Believe it or not, prevention is actually the easiest way to keep your crops pest-free, and much of keeping bugs away from your precious plants has to do with the set up and upkeep long before your crops have even reached the flowering stage. With that being said, if you have taken the proper preventative measures and are still experiencing an unwanted outbreak, there are some methods that can be used to get rid of the most common bugs and pests that affect weed plants.
In this article, we will walk you through the preventative steps that should be taken to give your plants the healthiest start to life possible, along with what you can do if your crops are already experiencing the merciless wrath of the insect world. Keep reading to learn some hopefully valuable information about what you can do to not only be proactive, but also to get done any necessary damage control.
What are the Most Common Cannabis-Affecting Pests?
Although there’s a massive list of the types of insects and pests that can affect the cannabis crop, just like with most other crops, there is a handful of pests in particular that seem to often cause problems for marijuana growers and cultivators. Luckily, even if the pest you have attacking your crops is not on this list, many of the steps you can take after an infestation are similar or the same for numerous insects.
Here are some of the most common unwelcome visitors:
About 2 millimeters in length, whiteflies, much like spider mites, hide underneath cannabis leaves where they nourish themselves on nutrients from the plant itself. They look a lot like miniscule white moths with tiny yellow bodies, and they are a breeze to spot because, if you shake the plant, it is possible to see the adults flying around.
These tiny flies spread disease quickly from one plant to another, and damage the leaves and other parts of the crop, weakening its overall health. For this reason, they are a real nuisance to cannabis growers and need to be eliminated as soon as a presence is recognized. Below, we explain how to get rid of whiteflies if you think you might have an infestation.
These are those little black bugs (3-5 millimeters in size) that you can sometimes (hopefully never) see crawling around in your soil and towards the base of your marijuana crops. Fungus gnats are not pleasant, and although they won’t physically eat the plant or any of its counterparts, these pesky creatures can create root damage, which can lead to crops that are weakened due to poorer soil drainage, which potential could lead to a higher susceptibility to damage, disease, and infestation.
These bugs love to live in moist soil, and that is why cannabis often provides a perfect habitat for them to flourish. We’ll explain later on how you can get rid of fungus gnats.
Aphids can be extremely destructive to many types of plants, cannabis included. These 1-10 millimeter long insects are usually green in color, but they can also be red, white, or even black. They usually hang out on the leaves and stems of marijuana plants, and they feed on the plant, causing leaves to wilt and curl as well as become yellow or even die completely.
Aphids are a challenging pest for many gardeners, cannabis cultivators included, but much like the other bugs on this list, they can be prevented and removed altogether by taking on extra proactive measures ahead of time, and utilizing some handy tricks. Later on in this article we’ll explain how you can get rid of an aphid infestation if you notice that one has appeared.
Definitely considered to be one of the most common pests that impacts cannabis plants, spider mites are red or black tiny critters, usually less than 1 millimeter in size, that live underneath leaves and spin their notorious webs that so many unfortunate cultivators have had the displeasure of noticing. These annoying bugs can be devastating for cannabis crops, causing damage to plant cells and turning leaves yellow, wilted, or even dead. Spider mites can also impact yield size, stunting the growth of the marijuana plant, as well as interfering with bud development.
If you think you may have a spider mite infestation, we will explain later on in this article what you will need to do to save your plants.
Ways to Prevent Pests from Attacking Your Crop
The first step to avoiding any full blown infestation is to take all the necessary preventative measures when you are starting out your garden. If you are new to the world of cannabis cultivation, preparing your garden space properly is a vital part of the growing process and shouldn’t be put off for long because it could lead to some annoying or even potentially damaging situations in the long run. Here are some of the preventative steps you can take to be as proactive as possible in avoiding an insect or pest take over:
How to Secure Your Environment to Prevent Further Infestation
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.
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?
Keeping Your Garden Clean and Sanitized
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.
Clones or Seeds: What’s Better for Keeping Pests Away?
Often, cultivators either start out their crops as seeds or clones. Clones are a bit quicker usually, because they’re already grown partially and don’t need to be started and raised from the point of a seedling. Some cannabis strains can only be obtained in clone form, especially the rarer ones. Additionally, it is easier to monitor the gender of your plants when you receive them in clone form, because there won’t be any seedling surprises. Although clones have many benefits and positive attributes, they aren’t so great when it comes to preventing pests and insects from appearing.
Clones can sometimes come from unknown environments or locations, and occasionally large-scale cloning operations are not as quick to closely monitor their plants, because they could just have a whole sea of them. For this reason, clones can sometimes be brought to you with insect eggs or pests already present, and you may not notice until the situation has turned into a full-blown infestation.
In the circumstance of buying a clone, the best way to prevent pests is to know the source of your provider. Only buying clones from trusted suppliers will help to prevent any future possible problems. Another way to avoid any lingering pests from clones is by avoiding clones altogether. This isn’t always possible, but if you can get a particular strain you desire in seed form and don’t mind spending the extra time it takes to start the seed and raise it past the seedling stage, then you should opt for a seed instead.
Seeds don’t normally arrive contaminated with any insects or pests, so you’ll have full control of what gets into your garden from the get go.
Picking the Best Growing Mediums for Safe Crops
Sometimes the growing mediums available for purchase can host a number of insects, pests, and other unwelcome visitors. The best mediums for avoiding pests, are those of hydroponic varieties, so if you intend to grow your plants hydroponically, you’re in luck! Materials like clay pellets, rock wool, and gravel will essentially never have a way to host any insect-related issues, but for those who intend to grow their crops in a soil medium, this is where things can get a little trickier.
Some soils can be the perfect breeding ground for unwelcome bugs, so it is important to know the source of your soil and read any reviews from other customers prior to making a purchase. It is likely that if others had issues with a specific soil type leading to a bug problem, it could be that you might end up having the same issue.
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.
How to Get Rid of Certain Pests
We mentioned a few of the most common insects that affect cannabis crops earlier, and now we will explain how to get rid of these specific types if you happen to have an infestation and already have gone through the preventative measures you can take. Here’s how to get rid of certain cannabis pests:
As with spider mites, the best way to get rid of whiteflies is to prune your plants and hose them off. Removing dead leaves or damaged leaves and then giving your crops a strong hosing down with water (but not while they are flowering), can help to eliminate white flies. You can also use the natural method of companion planting, but this needs to be done alongside the growing of your marijuana plants. By planting marigolds and zinnia next to your cannabis crops, two plants most pests hate, these whiteflies will be more likely to stay away.
If you would like to do something besides the hosing off, it is also possible to spray your plants with a natural mixture of garlic oil, or a blend of 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 1 gallon of water. Just give your crops a good spray twice a week, making sure to also spray underneath the leaves, until you finally do not see a presence of whiteflies. Continue this process until they have been eliminated.
Be sure to also keep your growing environment well ventilated and not too warm. These bugs love warm, humid conditions in which they thrive, so the more the environment is at the right temperature and clean, the less likely the chance of these pests appearing will be.
Because fungus gnats need moist soil to thrive in, the best way to get rid of them is by keeping the top layer of your soil as dry as possible. Another way to deal with them is to place a cloth over your soil, which prevents the adults from being able to lay any more eggs, because they need the wet soil to do so. As mentioned earlier, make sure to keep your grow space sealed off, which includes keeping any nearby windows, doors, and tent zippers closed at all times, except of course if they need to be opened in order to enter the space.
As with whiteflies, the garlic oil mixture also helps to fight off aphids. It is best to begin by pruning off leaves that are damaged or heavily infested with the aphids, quickly disposing of them and keeping them far away from healthy plants. Then, hose the plants down. Finally, follow up the hosing with an application of a garlic oil mixture or a vinegar and water solution, which the aphids hate. This should remove any remaining aphids.
Introducing ladybugs to the environment can also encourage aphids to stay away. Ladybugs eat aphids, in fact they absolutely love them, so these helpful little critters are not only beautiful and oh so cute, they will also be of benefit to your weed plants!
Strangely enough, pesticides and other chemical solutions work especially poorly for spider mite prevention. The best way to get rid of these odd bugs is through organic methods. Begin by pruning away damaged parts of the plant, taking extra care to remove any webs that may have been created by the spider mites. Once this is done, gently hose your cannabis plants, which will assist with eliminating more of the bugs. With a 9:1 ratio mixture of water and alcohol, give your plants a serious spray, being sure to get the solution on the undersides of the leaves as well. Repeat this every 2-3 days, or as necessary, and monitor the status of your plants daily to see how the mixture is working.
There are some insecticidal soaps and sprays that are made from natural ingredients and can also be purchased for the purpose of eliminating spider mites specifically, if you determine that none of the other methods have been working out for you.
Final Thoughts on How to Get Rid of Insects and Pests from Your Weed Garden
If you are an individual struggling with the pest-free management or your cannabis plants, or if you are one of the unlucky ones who has to go through the process of removing an insect infestation, this article is for you. There you have it – here is how to be proactive and prevent your crops from experiencing infestations, as well as what you can do if those pesky little insects have already attacked your plants.
Anyone getting into the cannabis cultivation scene should know that marijuana plants do require quite a bit of preparation and maintenance, even the strains that are technically known as being the easiest to deal with, but with the right knowledge, information, and education, the care and upkeep needed to keep your plants as healthy as possible can become a simple task that is of second instinct.
We hope you not only found this article to be entertaining, but also educational and informative. It is important to remember that the cultivation and consumption of cannabis is the sole responsibility of the cultivator or user, and discretion should always be taken.