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One of the challenges of growing cannabis outdoors is getting pests on the cannabis plants and they might end up eating the leaves and buds even before harvest time. With these challenges presented, you might find yourself having a hard time growing your own cannabis plant, but you don’t have to worry as we’ll give you techniques that you can use to combat pest problems.

Cannabis pests are probably the biggest threats to having an abundant harvest for most cannabis growers. These may come in all shapes and sizes and most of them attack or affect different parts of a plant’s anatomy in serious ways. You always have the option to use pesticides but many of these have been proven to be unhealthy for both the environment and human consumption. You also risk contaminating hard-earned cannabis stash with chemicals.

Common Cannabis Pests and How to Solve Them

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  • Slugs and Snails

You can easily spot slugs and snails because they leave shiny trails of transparent mucus. The best way to control this type of cannabis pest is by removing them manually at night since this is the time that they are most active. Other alternative treatments that you might want to consider is building a barrier around the crop, placing baits and lures.

  • Ants

When you see ants on your cannabis plants, this might be an indication that they are already damaging the root system thus negatively affecting the overall plant yield. Ant invasion might also bring about aphid infestation which is also a cannabis pest. Using cinnamon has been known to be a famous ant treatment for people with small gardens.

This works as a repellent and exterminator since ants and insects are repulsed and killed by cinnamon. You can sprinkle or water it onto the soil where they are nesting. But keep in mind that there aren’t a lot of treatment that can a hundred percent get rid of ants. 

You might also encourage the natural predators of ants such as frogs and slow worms to come to your garden. Another option is to put grease on the trees and stems of plants or put them in a moat of water; ants will have a difficult time crossing the water and greased parts. 

  • Nematodes

These are commonly known as Roundworms and they have 25,000 registered species; half of which are plant damaging parasites and the other half are advantageous for cannabis crop. A good indicator that your cannabis plant has nematodes are chlorotic leaves, lack of vigor, slowed growth and wilt. 

You can get rid of nematodes by applying Trichonema Prot-L, neem oil, skunk neem, and laotta. Regularly checking the substrate can also ensure roundworm-free cannabis plants. 

  • Birds

Having birds around your cannabis plant can have its advantages and disadvantages, they can help eat out insects or they can ruin your harvest by stealing your cannabis seeds. These are definitely a pest that is very easy to spot. You should check your cannabis plant if there has been a recent bird-plant interaction or seeds disappearing.

A good way to keep birds away from your cannabis plant is to place scarecrows or shiny objects near your plant. You can also place a bird feeder nearby as this will serve as a distraction to the birds flying around your cannabis plant. Another option is to use a lightweight net or PVC cover that will serve as a barrier. 

  • Cochineal

The cochineals reproduce at a rapid rate and their droppings will decay any plant material thus leading to cannabis leaf problems. These are white or brown in color with a white fluffy cover. They are tiny and difficult to detect but they first start to appear on the stems and then infest the whole cannabis plant.

You can treat the leaves with a 50/50 mixture of alcohol and water will help in eradicating the pest. Once you see the severely affected parts of the plants, you should remove them immediately. 

  • Crickets and Grasshoppers

The sounds that crickets and grasshoppers make is a great indicator for a grower to easily spot them. They live among the branches and intensively on the leaves, they also leave noticeable bite marks on the plant leaves.

You can use pest controls such as Spinosad products since they attack the cannabis pest directly and kill them. Another alternative is using neem oil, insecticidal soaps and pyrethrin-based products to prevent the invasion of crickets and grasshoppers on your cannabis plants. 

  • Aphids

These feed on the leaf sap and they are known for being extremely fast at spreading and reproducing. An indication that your cannabis plant has aphids is that you will notice dry, yellowish leaves, honeydew, and colonies under stems and leaves. 

The aphids pests can be crushed or removed manually and should also decay cannabis leaves need to be removed. You might also want to try introducing plant-friendly insects such as lacewing, larvae, parasitic wasps and ladybugs to aphids. 

  • Gophers and Moles

If you are growing cannabis in North America, you might be aware that these rodents can be an exhausting menace for your garden. They might be difficult to spot unless you see them in action or their traces and earth holes are noticed. 

A good treatment against gophers and moles is spraying castor oil and garlic water mixture over the garden soil since this will make these pests migrate. Alternative pest controls are using hardware cloth, setting traps or you can simply get a cat.

  • Whitefly

This is a common cannabis pest that can weaken the cannabis plant by sucking the sap from the leaves. Obvious evidence that your cannabis plant is undergoing a whitefly infestation is the presence of tiny flies every time the plants are shaken. You might also notice yellowed leaves with white powder on their underside.

The whiteflies can be stubborn and difficult to get rid of and they also need to be treated persistently with different methods such as plant repellent crops, placing yellow sticky strips or spray them with neem oil or potassium soap.

  • Leaf Miner

This cannabis pest was named as such because they dig tunnels into the plants leaves where they can feed and lay their eggs. This is known as the initial damage leaf miners do to cannabis plants and after which, the larvae eat the tissue and leaves thus leaving long brown traces on the cannabis leaves.

You have the option to stop the leaf miner from laying more eggs by placing adhesive strips near the crops. When you need to deal with the larvae, you can manually remove them or treat the plant with insecticides such as Spinosad, which is a natural substance made by a soil bacterium and this can be toxic to insects.

  • Thrips

This is a tiny insect and moves at a very rapid rate and it can be difficult to spot and treat. You can indicate that your cannabis plant has thrips when you see brittle leaves and silver markings on the plant’s surface. 

Once the flowering process has already started, you can spray potassium soap or neem oil. Another alternative option is for you to use wasps or insidious flower bugs. 

  • Red Spider Mites

These will damage your cannabis plant by sucking the sap from its leaves thus killing the crop in a very short period of time. You should look for white spots on the leaves or yellow or black spots on both sides. Since Red Spider Mites can be very tiny, you can use a magnifying glass to be able to see them on your plant.

The red spider mites thrive in dry areas and they can even multiply in high temperatures. In order to make sure that your cannabis will not acquire red spider mites is to make sure that the environment is well-ventilated with a humidity of 55-60% and an average temperature below 25 degrees Celsius. 

As soon as you see the red spider mites you should treat the damaged leaves with a mixture of alcohol and water.  Potassium soap, neem oil, and ecotenona also help. 

  • Caterpillars

The easiest way to know that a caterpillar is infesting your cannabis plant is seeing yellow or translucent eggs, small teeth marks and black droppings on the leaf surface. You can easily spot them and remove them by hand. Other treatments include the application of pepper and garlic insecticide, you can also introduce Trichogramma wasps or spined soldier bugs to the plant. 

Other Methods that can Help Prevent Cannabis Pest

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  • Companion Planting

This has been proven to be an excellent, natural and holistic method to get rid of cannabis pests in your garden. Companion planting boosts diversity and added aesthetic appeal in your growing area. Some companion plants can also be included in your dinner.

The idea behind companion planting is to surround your cannabis plant with plant allies in order to harbor positive effects like reduced risk of pests and diseases. Good examples of companion plants are Melissa, coriander, basil, peppermint, and lavender.

  • Soil Sterilization

A lot of cannabis pests and pathogens may be residing in your potting soil and sterilizing your soil may be a great way to get rid of them. You can sterilize your soil by making sure that it’s exposed to high temperatures via solarization or steam sterilization.

  • Utilizing Beneficial Insects

These types of insects can serve as pest management as they feed on many insects. You can introduce parasitic wasps that can help in eliminating caterpillars, praying mantis that also loves the taste of caterpillars.

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