Parasitic wasps are a popular choice of beneficial insect that naturally prey upon aphids. They also attack various beetles, flies, spiders, and bugs. Endoparasitic wasps inject their eggs inside of their prey, which develop over time as the prey continues its normal functions, whereas ectoparasitic wasps develop on the outside of their prey and paralyse it instantly.
Predatory nematodes are a valuable asset to cannabis gardeners. These tiny little organisms patrol the soil, where they attack almost every pest in there, all the while leaving plants and beneficial worms alone. Predatory nematodes feed on plant-parasitic nematodes, which feed on the roots of cannabis plants.
Biological pest prevention utilises natural and organic methods to control pest populations and infestations. Many of these techniques benefit the overall health of your garden in many ways, bypassing the need for dangerous synthetic pesticides.
Many organic/biological control methods exist that are highly effective. Not only do these techniques help to keep pests from damaging your weed plants, some of them can even contribute to the overall health of plants and soil.
Again, not all insects are bad news for your cannabis plants. Some species even work to protect your weed against actual wrong-doers. You can almost see them as living, breathing pesticides that boost the health of your garden, instead of poisoning the environment.
Other companions plants serve to attract beneficial insects that can boost the health of your garden. Lavender emits a stunning aroma that attracts insects who will feed on the larvae of pest species. This aromatic herb will also tempt bees into your garden. Chamomile will attract honey bees and hoverflies, all the while repelling mosquitoes and flies.
Ladybugs are one such example. They are easy to find and will most likely already be living within your garden to some degree. Ladybugs have an appetite for mites, cochineal, and small caterpillars. Ladybugs also feed on aphids, one of the most destructive pests to cannabis. These small critters will drink the sap from your weed plants. Utilising dill, cilantro, and fennel as companion plants will urge ladybugs to hang around and serve as leaf police.
Some growers choose to use harsh synthetic chemicals like pesticides and fungicides to keep their plants free of pests. Although these chemical agents might do their job, they also cause great harm to human and environmental health. Residue from these products can even end up in your smoking stash.
Dill and coriander are also used as protective companion plants and together can help prevent invasion by the hands of spider mites, aphids, cabbage looper, squash bugs, and potato beetles.
Biological pest prevention allows cannabis gardeners to use beneficial lifeforms to tackle infestation. Doing so can greatly benefit plant health.
Vegetative (Pre-Flower) Foliar Spray Recipe: A Neem-Based Spray
During the flower cycle, caterpillars are a cannabis growers worst enemy. The little inchworm caterpillars hide deep inside the buds, munching and pooping away. If you do have a caterpillar issue and wait to start treating once you already have mature buds, it will probably be too late. Large dense buds are hard to penetrate with sprays, and even more so with mild organic ones. Catching them early and staying on top of your treatment schedule is key in organic cannabis pest control.
Thus, it is important to fully emulsify the neem oil before adding it to the water in your sprayer. If it is not properly emulsified, it won’t mix well. The neem will come out globby and uneven on your plants. I think this is where most people go wrong with neem. Not only does this make the spray less effective, but it increases the risk of damaging the spots of the plants that get heavily dosed with undiluted neem. Strong neem can cause sunburning of leaves.
“Bt is a bacterium that is not toxic to humans or other mammals, but is toxic to certain insects when ingested. It works as an insecticide by producing a crystal-shaped protein (Cry toxin) that specifically kills certain insects. Bt is naturally found on leaves and in soil worldwide and has been used commercially both in organic and conventional agriculture for over fifty years. Over two decades of review, the EPA and numerous scientific bodies have consistently found that Bt and Bt-crops are not harmful to humans.”
It is best to apply foliar sprays just after the sun goes down, for many reasons. One, beneficial insects are less likely to be present and active then. Second, this gives the spray overnight to do its work and dry a bit. Applying foliar sprays in direct sunlight can cause the leaves to sunburn.
Additionally, that protective shine that neem oil adds to the leaves makes them less susceptible to fungal diseases like powdery mildew, rust, or blight.
Green lacewings provide very similar benefits as ladybugs. They feed on aphids, leafhoppers, spider mites, mealybugs, thrips and other soft bodied insects. Most often, lacewings are sold and shipped as eggs, since they can be quite fragile. The benefit of this is that eggs can’t fly off upon arrival, as some ladybugs do! Here is one source to purchase lacewing eggs.
If you are struggling with soft-bodies pest insects, consider releasing ladybugs on your plants as organic cannabis pest control! Either for an outdoor grow, or in a greenhouse setting. I probably wouldn’t recommend this if you’re growing in your closet though. Ensure you’re buying native American ladybugs and not invasive Asian lady beetles. Here is a trusted source for the right ones.
You can continue applying this cannabis pest control foliar spray up until harvest time, though we usually stop at least a few days beforehand. Don’t worry… A post explaining how to determine the best time for harvest is on the way!
Come discover organic cannabis pest control methods, including preventative measures, soil amendments, beneficial insects, and recipes for foliar sprays.