Cannabis plants are robust. Their hearty nature has made them a popular choice for cultivation for thousands of years and they tend to thrive in virtually any climate. While these plants grow like weeds, they aren’t invincible and pests are perhaps the biggest danger to your plants as they can ruin an entire harvest seemingly overnight. If you want to get the most out of your cannabis, pest control is an absolute must.
There are several pests that like to call cannabis plants home and they are all a danger to your harvest. While the list of possible bugs is truly exhaustive, several are common enough that almost any grower will come across them at least once or twice in their career. Knowing what to look for and how to prevent it is key to proper cannabis pest control.
Perhaps the most common pests that afflict cannabis, nearly every grower will have to contend with spider mites at one point or another. However, the fact that they’re common doesn’t mean that you can leave them alone. Spider mites can and will completely destroy your entire harvest if left unchecked.
Spider mites live on the underside of leaves and feed by puncturing the leaf to drain its water. This leaves behind small brown patches (known as stippling) that look like they’ve been burned and can cause significant damage to a plant over time. This damage cannot be reversed and even if you manage to clear the plant of mites, you’ll also need to pluck any damaged leaves.
The biggest risk of spider mites, though, is the webbing that they leave all around the flowers. While damage to the leaves is unfortunate, damage to the flowers is unacceptable. Once the mites have set up shop on the buds, it’s probably time to just toss the entire plant.
Sometimes called blackflies or greenflies, aphids are an issue faced by indoor and outdoor growers. Like spider mites, aphids damage plants by feeding on them. However, aphids prefer younger leaves and fresh flowers. Furthermore, aphids secrete a sweet sticky substance known as honeydew that attracts even more pests such as ants.
Thrips are about as wide as a needle and damage cannabis plants by feeding on young leaves, flowers, and buds. Their mouths leave behind silvery or faded patches on leaves, distorted growth, scarring, and scabbing. They can transmit plant viruses, leading to further harm. Thrips particularly target cannabis flowers, resulting in discoloration, distortion, and reduced bud quality.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” - Benjamin Franklin
Taking the time for cannabis pest control can keep bugs from ever making your plants home in the first place, saving you hassle and stress down the road. By practicing proper prevention, growers can minimize the risk of infestations and reduce their reliance on chemical interventions. Preventing pests from establishing a foothold in the first place is more efficient and environmentally friendly. It also helps plants maintain health and vitality, ensuring higher yields and better-quality harvests.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an approach to cannabis pest control that focuses on the prevention, monitoring, and management of pests in an environmentally responsible manner by striking a balance between effectively controlling pests and minimizing the use of pesticides. IPM is a multi-pronged approach that includes several techniques.
Luckily, there are several methods for combatting pests on your plants that are safe, natural, and effective.
In the most extreme cases, chemical pesticides can be the only option if you’re unable or unwilling to scrap your plants and start over. It is important to stress that these should be ONLY used as a last resort in cannabis pest control. Only when every other method has been tried and failed.
When choosing a chemical pesticide, it is absolutely vital to prioritize low-toxicity options that have minimal impact on beneficial organisms, human health, and the environment. Following all of the application instructions and adhering to safety precautions are essential to mitigate any potential risks associated with chemical pest control. You DO NOT want to smoke this stuff.
Safe and effective cannabis pest control is a must for any successful harvest. By making the most of preventive measures and combining them with Integrated Pest Management, growers can minimize the risk of infestations and reduce reliance on harmful pesticides. Organic solutions, such as beneficial insects, neem oil, and insecticidal soaps, offer environmentally friendly alternatives. Additionally, the use of biological controls and low-toxicity chemical pesticides (as a last resort) can help manage pests effectively. It is important for growers to prioritize prevention, choose appropriate pest control solutions, and prioritize the health and sustainability of their cannabis crops.
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