One of the worst things imaginable to a marijuana cultivator is an infestation of spider mites or other pests known to be lethal to cannabis plants. Once a plant has an infestation, the grower will likely be combating these pesky critters for the rest of the plant’s lifetime. The best thing to do is take the necessary precautions to ensure your precious garden never falls victim to spider mites, white flies, caterpillars, thrips or other unwanted guests. However, sometimes it is inevitable that a garden becomes ridden with some sort of critter. Although a cannabis plant or garden is not doomed to extinction if it does become ridden with pests. There are several known cures, as well as precautions that can be taken to wipe out this spiders, insects and bugs:
The most common pest seen by marijuana growers are spider mites. These unwanted arachnids are, in fact, tiny spiders that are barely visible to the untrained eye. They feed on the resin of marijuana plants and can be spotted in a number of ways. They generally will appear as tiny black or dark-brown dots on the underside of the leaves. The top of the leaf will have small white, tan, or light-brown spots where the spider mite has been feeding off the plant. They also lay eggs and leave tiny nearly undetectable webs. If left untreated spider mites have been known to kill an entire vegetating plant in less than a week.
One organic way to combat spider mites is to deploy a type of predator mite formerly known as Phytoseiulus persimilis. These mites feed on other mites such as the spider mite without causing harm to your precious garden. If you cannot come across these mites, lady bugs will also suffice. This may not, however, solve your problem 100%. In which case you may also try using a type of organic soap spray. Use a ¼ tsp of organic soap (such as hemp soap, peppermint soap, eucalyptus, etc) per 12 ounce bottle of water. Mix it around and attach a clean spray nozzle to the water bottle. Lightly coat the infested part of the plant in a gentle spray of this mixture. This will organically kill the spider mites. However, it will not kill the eggs they lay and you may have to repeat this process no later than 3 or 4 days after the initial spray to ensure you kill the hatched offspring before they are old enough to lay eggs of their own.
White flies are also an arch-nemesis of cannabis plants and growers alike. You will be able to tell if your garden is ridden with white flies if there are small, circular white spots on the top sides of the leaves. White flies land on the underside of the marijuana leaves and feed from it. They can quickly kill even the healthiest of gardens if left untreated.
The easiest way to combat white flies is to use insecticide. This will kill them nearly instantly, however it is not an organic way to grow bud and is typically used as a last resort. Organic growers tend to prefer the ichneumon fly, commonly referred to as the assassinator wasp. This is in fact a fly, not a wasp, and is know to be a natural enemy of the white fly. While the assassinator wasp is smaller than the white fly, a group of these wasps can help revive your plant in 2 weeks to a month, depending on the size of the infestation. Additionally, new ichneumon flies must be deployed every 10 to 14 days to ensure optimum success.
Thrips, an incredibly small, flying insect known to be disastrous to cannabis, are not commonly found in most gardens, but are just as lethal as any other pest. They brutally rip the leaves open and feed off the sap and chlorophyll. Growers can detect these harmful insects by the shiny, almost metallic spots that will be left on the leaves.
While thrips may be effectively combated using insecticide, there are organic alternatives to this pest, just like most others. The Ambylseius cucumeris, a predator of the thrip, can successfully wipe out an infestation in less than a month. Favored by cultivators, these saviors are predacious right from the nymph stage of life and live between 18 and 21 days.
Caterpillars are generally found on marijuana plants during flowering. These pesky critters are particularly harmful to any garden, as they feed directly on the flowers of cannabis. Caterpillars also have insatiable appetites, allowing them to completely wipe out an entire plant or garden.
One way to remove caterpillars is by hand, however if the infestation is particularly bad or if it is suspected that more eggs have been laid, growers often use praying mantises to get rid of caterpillars. This is an extremely effective way to combat caterpillars. The mantises will not leave the plant until all their food is gone and at the same time are not harmful to the garden.
The best way to make sure your garden is healthy is to take the proper precautions ensuring you never get any of the above pests in the first place. One way to do this is to make sure that your garden is isolated from the rest of the plants at your house. Pests are often carried on these plants and can be easily transferred to your precious garden. Also, if you have pets, make sure that they are not allowed to go near your marijuana garden, as dander and pests on their fur can easily transfer to your plant and create an infestation.
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