Marijuana With Insects

Tom’s facts on marijuana with insects !

  1. Introduction Are Plants Grown In Soil More Vulnerable to Insects?
  2. Insects That May Attack Your Plants & Links to the Insects & Cures!
  3. About Cures Listed !
  4. A Word About Phototoxicity !Very Important When Using Insecticides !
  5. Beneficial Insects ! 

Introduction !

Growing organic marijuana in organic soil does not make your plants anymore vulnerable to insects than growing hydroponically. Some folks will try to tell you different. But lets clarify that. Growing in organic soil will expose your plants to the possibility of fungus gnats that hydroponic growers usually don’t see. However, that doesn’t mean your plants are any more vulnerable to any other insect on this planet. Fungus gnats are the only insect, soil growers face that hydro growers usually do not. Growing marijuana with insects is not something we want to do, but it is something we must keep our eye on. At some time or another your plants will come under attack from insects.

The insects that may attack your plants are as follows :

  1. Fungus Gnats – -All About Gnats and Organic Cures !
  2. Spider Mites —-All About Mites and Organic Cures !
  3. Aphids ————All About Aphids and Organic Cures !
  4. Thrips ————All About Thrips and Organic Cures !
  5. Whitefly ——–All About Whitefly and Organic Cures !
  6. Mealybugs – —-All About Mealybugs and Organic Cures !

The list of destructive insects is rather short and if you learn to identify these insects and catch them early, they are relative easy to control and eliminate. Now, I must say, it is very rare for an insect to kill your plants. A stem borer insect is one of the few insects that can kill your plants, however marijuana just does not get stem borers. I don’t go into discussing stem borers because they are so rare for marijuana and if you were unlucky enough to get one in a plant, there is nothing to do but throw the plant away.                                                                                                                                                         

The list of cures I discuss !

I only discuss organic methods of control. I have attempted to a Mortar_and_Pedestalincorporate all good home remedies of control, many of which I have tried and a few I haven’t tried, but have very good reviews. The commercial list of organic products to control insects is growing every day because of new research. I have attempted to list the products folks have had good success with along with some new products on the market that appear to have excellent potential. This list is not a complete list of products available but a condensed list of what I feel are the best products available at this writing. If you have a good organic cure or have found a good organic commercial cure that I have not listed, please share you findings by leaving a comment  of your cure at the bottom of this page. Thank You, Tom D.

Fungus Gnats !

Fungus gnats are the most tenacious, and the most common insect your plants will get. Now, don’t let the name “fungus gnat” throw you for a loop. They don’t come from a fungus and they will not cause a fungus. What they will do or should I say what their larvae will do is feed on fungus or decaying plant material. Fungus gnats are a minute blackish, gregarious, mosquito-like insects of the family Mycetophilidae, the larvae of which feed on fungi or decaying vegetation and unhealthy roots.

Fungus Gnat Life Cycle
Fungus Gnat Life Cycle 28 to 36 Days
Where do they come from ?

Your plants will get gnats ! If you are growing your plants in soil, your plants will

Fungus Gnats Mating
               Fungus Gnats Mating

get fungus gnats at some time or another. I guarantee it, but it’s no big deal. The larvae of fungus gnats feed on decaying organic matter and fungi, which aids in the decomposition process. Roots are their last choice for feeding on. The adults are 2–5 mm long. Their larvae are 1-2 mm long and appear as very small white or opaque worms. Fungus gnats are typically harmless to healthy plants, but can inflict extensive damage to seedlings and clones. Their presence can be indicative of more serious problems. For potted marijuana, a yellow sticky trapthe presence of fungus gnats may indicate over watering; they may be feeding on roots that have sat in drain water too long and are thus rotting, or the gnats may be attracted to fungus growing in saturated topsoil. Consequently, allowing the soil to dry may reduce their numbers. The fact that we are growing in organic soil, means we have plenty of organic material in our plants soil for them to feed on. Fungus does not have to be available to them to feed and thrive.

Typically we do not concern ourselves with the adult gnats. They are very short-lived

Adult Fungus Gnat
   Adult Fungus Gnat

and in the adult stage they do not attack plants. The adults only purpose is reproduction and may live for as long as ten days, unless they commit suicide first by flying into your hot grow lights.  I do like to use a yellow sticky trap or several
around my grow to keep track of their population. The adults are attracted to yellow and will fly onto the sticky traps and get stuck allowing you to monitor their numbers. We also don’t usually worry about healthy rooted plants that may have a few gnats. These gnats are so common and because we are typically only growing our plants for 4 months, (2 months in veg. and 2 months in flower) they don’t pose a problem. Their population would have to be extremely huge to harm an adult healthy plant. Their population cannot grow large enough in four months to damage or impede healthy well rooted plants.

Seedlings and clones !  Fungus gnats can be catastrophic to seedlings and clones.

 Fungus Gnat Larvae
Fungus Gnat Larvae

These young plants, with few established roots are a perfect target for these gnats. I have not had a problem with them attacking seedlings but I have had problems with them attacking clones that are trying to root. The clones are the most susceptible to the gnats larvae. Because clones have a cut open end to their stem, it enables an easy access point for the larvae to enter the plants stem and begin chomping down destroying the clones ability to root.

Eliminate the gnats ?  Are fungus gnats worth the time and effort it takes to eliminatea fungus_gnat_JR_Guillaumin them?  That is something you must decide for yourself. I only worry about fungus gnats when I’m cloning, and then I just keep a watchful eye out for them. I will only take action on clones, if I know they have fungus gnats larvae. The larvae is large enough to see with close inspection, and if you see them, take action at that time.

I see fungus gnats, kill them ? On clones or seedlings? Yes! If you see them on potted

 Fungus Gnat larvae
Fungus Gnat larvae

plants, it all depends on the level of infestation, considering the size of the plants pot. There are many people who just hate these flying pests and must kill them no matter what. I understand their feelings and where they’re coming from. They can be a real pesky nuisance but, I say : “If there are only a few and not out of hand, learn to live with them.” If your potted plants are strong and healthy a few fungus gnats are not going to harm or do any damage to your plants. They are living in the top inch or so of soil and more than likely feeding on organic matter in the soil and not on the plants healthy roots. The soil at the top of the pot should be getting somewhat dry between watering and this keeps the fungus gnats numbers down. The area that is of more a black-fungus-gnats-778concern that nobody talks about is the drainage holes from the pots. The drainage holes of pots are an easy access point for fungus gnats and that area of the soil is always moist. This is prime breeding ground for these little buggers. But once again, this may not pose a problem if you keep your eye on this. If you are growing using HID MH and HPS grow lights many of the adult fungus gnats will commit suicide by flying into the light. Going to the light at the end of the tunnel may not always be a good thing. Yellow sticky traps can help you monitor their numbers.

If You Must Kill Fungus Gnats !

Home Remedies for Fungus Gnats !

  1. Drying Out Soil !  This can keep their numbers down to a tolerable level but does
    Gnat Larval Mass
    Gnat Larval Mass

    not eliminate them. As the top of the soil drys out the gnat larvae just goes a little deeper into the soil. They are stupid, but they know to stay where the moisture is. But I guess it does kill many of them, just not all of them. I guess it only kills the really stupid ones, which does seem to be most of them. The top inch or two of my soil always dries out.

  2. Sand !  Place about half an inch of sterile sharp sand on top of the soil around the plants. The adult fungus gnats can’t get back to the soil to lay eggs and the larvae can’t escape. That’s a lot of sand if you have many plants, and a lot of weight. I have done this and it works very, very well to excellent.
  3. Liquid Dishwashing Soap ! Do not use detergent or an antibacterial soap. These can kill the mycorrhizal fungi in the soil.  An effective cure for fungus gnats is to drench the soil with a mixture of a teaspoon of liquid dish soap to a gallon of water. Then slowly pour the entire gallon of water through the soil making sure it drains out of each drainage hole in the bottom of your pot. If one gallon of the soap mix isn’t enough use more until the job is complete. Repeat in a week if necessary. Wait until your plant is ready for a watering to do this. I have used this method and it works very well to excellent.
  4. Hydrogen Peroxide ! When your plant is ready to be watered and the top inch or a Fungus-Gnat-900x500two of soil is dry, mix one part of 3% hydrogen peroxide with four parts water. Use this solution, and water your plants as you normally would. The fungus gnat larvae will die on contact with the hydrogen peroxide. This solution will not hurt your plants so long as it is mixed correctly.  When the hydrogen peroxide is watered in it will fizz a bit, but in a very short time it will naturally break down into nothing more than oxygen and water. This can take a lot of hydrogen peroxide if you have a lot of plants. Consider this : My 7 gallon pots need 2 1/2 gallons of water when they are ready to be watered. To each gallon of water I would need a quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, meaning I would need 1/2 gallon plus a pint of hydrogen peroxide for each 7 gallon pot I would treat. Although this works it’s not very cost-effective, making soap a better choice. This would be good for small plants and clones, but I have not tried this.
  5. Cinnamon and Cloves !  Mix 70% powdered cinnamon with 30% powdered cloves (70/30 the ratios do not need to be exact) then top dress by lightly sprinkling on the surface of the soil after watering. The claim is : Most if not all flyers and larvae will be dead within 48 hours. I have not tried this, so I don’t know how well this works, but some swear by it.
Commercial Remedies for Fungus Gnats !
  1.   Diatomaceous Earth !
    This can work very well but I do not like the food a earth714wxjLQw5L._SL1320_grade diatomaceous earth. I have found food grade to be ground up into a too fine of a powder which when used as a top-dressing on soil can block water from penetrating the soil mass. A non-food grade is a better choice for top-dressing. Diatomaceous earth (AKA silicon dioxide)is a non-toxic, safe substance made up from fossils of freshwater organisms and crushed to a fine powder. The powder particles resemble bits of broken glass when observed thru a microscope. When the insect crawls through Diatomaceous Earth, it will cut their exoskeleton, which releases their vital moisture within their body, causing them to dehydrate and die. To use dust the top of the plants soil. with the diatomaceous earth. How much to use you will need to a soapexperiment with. I have tried this and it works very well.
  2. Insecticidal Soap !
    Drenching the soil with an organic insecticidal soap is another recommended method of control. I have used this and it does work very well. Follow the instructions on the container.
  3.   Gnatrol WDG !
    This is a Water Dispersible Granule(WDG) biological larvicide.  It contains a variety of Bacillus Thuringiensis, a a gnat controlbacteria that kills most gnat larvae. Apply as a soil drench.The bacteria Bacillus Thuringiensis attacks the larvae and prevents them from feeding.  Bacillus Thuringiensis can be found in various insecticide products, since they equally attack several other parasites in the soil. Follow their instructions. I have not used this but it has excellent reviews.
  4. SNS 203 !                                                                                                                                                      a 11ahUBQ199L._SL160_
    Kills and Repels Fungus Gnats. SNS-203 Concentrated Natural Pesticide Soil Drench and Foliage Spray is made up of pure Rosemary and Clove botanical extracts. This causes the pests to dehydrate and dry up. Although this has very good reviews it is not available in all states or around the world. I have not used this.

  5. Neem Oil and other Botanical Oils ! These may work just fine but, I do not like to use any oil based organic pesticide on plants roots because it can smother the plants roots as well as the insects.

 

Spider Mites !

Spider mites are the next most common insect we face when growing organic marijuana

Two Spotted Spider Mite
Two Spotted Spider Mite

right behind the fungus gnats. There are many different varieties of spider mites, but they all do the same damage. The most common mite found in the USA is the two-spotted mite and the red spider mite. There are over 1,200 varieties of spider mites. Spider mites are less than 1/2 millimeter (0.02 in) in size and vary in color. Spider mites may be black, red, clear, one spotted or two spotted. They lay small, spherical, initially transparent eggs, that turn white very quickly. Many species spin silk webbing to help protect the colony from predators and to make silk highways for them to travel on.

Where do they come from ? Spider mites are always alive somewhere outside. They are able to winter over as eggs, hatching when the time is right in the spring. The mites are so small they can hitch a ride on a breeze and come into your grow by way of your rooms ventilation. They may even hitch a ride on you or your pets and come inside that way. Spider mites are so small they will find a way to your plants eventually no matter how tight your sealed room may be.

aa mite
Spider Mite Damaged Leaf

First sign that your plants have spider mites ! Spider mites cause                                          damage by puncturing one individual plant cell at a time to feed, sucking out all the juices and chlorophyll in that cell. They do this one cell at a time, sucking it dry. Very small yellow specks or spots on your plants leaves is the first sign your plants have spider mites. The yellow specks will start in a small area but will quickly spread all over the leaves. As you look at the plants leaves you will see the yellow dots of dead cells but you will not see the spider mites.

I see the yellow speckles on the leaves but where are the mites? You don’t see the mites a spider mite 2because spider mites generally live on the undersides of leaves. This is also where they lay their eggs. The spider mites eggs are transparent when first laid but turn white soon after. The spider mites eggs look like white powder in areas on the underside of leaves. The spider mites white eggs are much easier to see than the mites are themselves. If you see a cluster of small yellow dots on your marijuana’s leaves, turn that leaf over and look for the white eggs or what appears to be white powder. If you then see the white powder (mites eggs) then begin looking for the live mites.

The Spider Mite ! Spider mites are extremely small (less than 1/2 mm or .02 of an inch) and that’s the adult size. Junior is even smaller. Most mites are born transparent or opaque, a mitemaking them really hard to see. The adult “two spotted mite” can be seen with the trained naked eye well enough to count the two spots.  That’s the adult, to see the juveniles I recommend a magnifying glass. All varieties of spider mites are difficult to see, so difficult in fact you may not notice them until you see webbing covering a bud like a blanket. The webbing is real easy to see if misted with water. Spider mites many times will start at the bottom of a plant and this may be where you will find them first. However spider mites will gravitate to the warm top of the plant quickly. Although spider mites prefer to live on the undersides of leaves they will come to upper side of leaves when their populations get crowed. If their populations get extremely crowed they will begin to send silk strands out on the breeze, and use these silk strands as a bridge to the plants beside it.

Spider mites like it hot ! Hot, dry conditions are perfect for a population explosion of

Spider Mites Out of Control
Spider Mites Out of Control

spider mites. Under ideal conditions (near 80 °F or 27 °C), the two-spotted spider mite can hatch in as little as 3 days, and become sexually mature in as little as 5 days. One female can lay up to 20 eggs per day and can live for 2 to 4 weeks, laying hundreds of eggs. A single mature female can spawn a population of a million mites in a month or less. This accelerated reproductive rate allows spider mite populations to adapt quickly to resist pesticides, so chemical control methods can become somewhat ineffectual when the same pesticide is used over a prolonged period.

Preventing spider mites ! I read this on the “Cannabis.com forum” written by

Spider Mites Highway Building
Spider Mites Building Highways !

“WashougalWonder”. : “Prevention is the best solution to mites.  Seven(brand name) seems to be a great perimeter poison to use around the exterior of the grow area and into the air duct openings (while off).  Cracks and crevices in the room itself also should get a barrier stream sprayed down for the same reason.  Do this about once a month during mite season and occasionally in off season as it also controls other bugs“.  The problem with this is “Seven” is not an organic product and it is harmful to aquatic animals and will also kill honey bees. The other problem with “Seven” is, it is a contact poison with no residual effect. This means the poison must make contact with the insect to kill it. No residual effect means that once the poison has dried on a surface it is ineffective. Insects crawling on that treated surface will not be killed.

Unfortunately there are not any easy solutions to preventing spider mites. One solutiona spidermites to prevention is to keep your grow rooms cool (below 80 degrees and below 70 degrees would be better. Along with the cooler room spray your plants daily with cool water, making sure to spray on top and under all foliage. Spider mites like it hot and dry, so a cool and moist grow room can prevent them to a certain extent. As you can see this is not a practical solution but it will work. a a mite-life-cycle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Killing spider mites, home remedies ! There are many home and natural remedies to killing spider mites, unfortunately none of these remedies will kill the eggs of the mites and only do a fair job on killing the live adults.

  1. Spraying with water ! This is the simplest method known to man or women and hasa garden-hose-spray been around since time began. Simply Spray the infected areas with a hard stream of water to wash off the spider mites. This will wash off many of the adults and maybe even some of their eggs. This method can control them only to a certain extent but will not eradicate them.
  2. Wiping the leaves ! Spraying the plants with water and wiping the leaves are the oldest methods of controlling spider mites in the book. Wipe each infected leaf, top and bottom with a damp soft cloth. With this method you are wiping the adult and juvenile mites along with the eggs off of the plant. This does work well if you catch the infestation early and only have a few leaves to wash off, but in most cases it is not practical. This works real well on large leafed plants such as Ficus Decora (rubber tree plant) but on plants that have hundreds of leaves such a marijuana, it’s just too much work.
  3. Rubbing alcohol and water ! This is also a tried and true method of killing thea alchole adults, but it will not kill the spider mites eggs. Mix the alcohol with equal parts water (1:1) and spray the plants leaves top and bottom thoroughly with the grow lights off. Spray every three days for a total of three times. This will kill the mites as they hatch from their eggs. Eggs hatch within three days of being laid. Turn all grow lights off when spraying.
  4. Soap not detergent ! A good dish washing soap not detergent mixed with water cana ivory soap kill adult and juvenile spider mites. This will not kill their eggs !Detergent will burn your plants, so use soap. Use up to 1/8 teaspoon per quart of water and spray the entire plant throughly, making sure to spray the bottom and top of all leaves. Do this every three days for three spraying to kill the mites as they hatch from the eggs. Lights off when spraying.
  5. Rosemary oil and other botanical oils ! These can be very effective but again will a rosemarynot kill the eggs.Oils work by smothering the spider mites. Follow their instructions and spray with lights off and again every three days for three spraying to kill the spider mites as they hatch from their eggs. Make sure the grow lights are off when spraying and do not use within 4 weeks of using a sulfur product.
  6. Diatomaceous Earth ! Some folks recommend this, but I have found it useless for controlling spider mites.

Homemade Recipe for Spider Mites ! I have not tried this but many folks swear by this mix. This mix should kill all soft-bodied insects such as : Spider Mites, Aphids, Thrips, Mealy Bugs, and White fly. Be very careful with this method as it will burn your plants leaves if not washed off before it dries.   Vinegar is a natural herbicide, meaning it can kill plants leaves.

  • 1/4 teaspoon Epsom Salts( Magnesium Sulfate)
  • 1/4 cup Baking Soda
  • 1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 2 Drops of liquid Dish Soap

        To use this ! Dissolve the Epsom Salts in a cup of warm water. Mix all the other ingredients in a half-gallon container. Then add the Epsom Salt solution to the other ingredients in the half-gallon container. Add water to that mix filling the 1/2 gallon container 3/4 full and mix well.

        Then ! Cover the plants growing medium( soil in the pot) with plastic so when spraying the plant none of this mixture will enter the soil.  Put the mix into a spray bottle or other suitable sprayer. Turn off your grow lights before spraying. Spray the entire plant being sure to spray the tops and underside of the plants leaves thoroughly . Do not let this solution mix dry on your plants as it can burn the plants leaves. Wash off the plant throughly with plain water after 10 to 20 minutes depending on your grow rooms humidity. Do this before the solution mix dries.  This mix is said to destroy and to devolve the insects and their eggs. It may be wise to test this on one plant or just part of a plant first to see if this mix will burn the plants leaves. Wait 24 hours to look for leaf damage.  If you do see burning of the leaves dilute the mixture with plain water and try again.

Killing spider mites, commercial solutions ! I have tried almost all the methods outlined above and they do work to a limited extent. I have found that commercial sprays do work best and ongoing research is bringing new organic pesticide products to the market every day. I have not tried all the products listed below but they look very promising. Some of them even claim to be ovicides. This (ovicides) means it will kill the eggs. Killing the eggs is important so you don’t have to spray three times to kill all the mites. Some of these others work very well but still require spraying three times to kill the eggs.                                  a insect soap

  1. Insecticidal Soaps
    !
    These can work very well on live spider mites but will not kill eggs. Follow instruction on the container, but spraying will need to be repeated every three days for three spraying to kill the hatchlings. I have used these with fair results. Always turn lights off when spraying.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       a neem oil
  2. Neem Oil !
    Neem Oil is a botanical oil that works very well, but again will not kill the eggs. This also takes three spraying, three days apart to kill the hatchlings. Turn all grow lights off during spraying or risk phototoxicity, and never use within four weeks of using a sulfur product. I have used Neem with good results.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             a azamax
  3. AzaMax !
    At this writing this is my first choice when dealing with spider mites.Azamax is a commercial organic pesticide and may be used up to and including the day of harvest, although I never spray insecticide on my plants within a week of harvest no matter what their label says. Azamax also is slightly systemic, meaning it makes the plant poisonous to sucking insects. Unfortunately, Azamax will not kill the spider mites eggs. However because of the systemic action of Azamax it will continue killing mites for a while as the hatchling appear. I still like to spray three times for a sure eradication of the mites, but spraying can be 4 to 5 days apart. Because Azamax is an oil product ( with other ingredients and Neem Oil) it is very important to have all grow lights turned off when spraying and to never use within a month of a sulfur based product. I have used Azamax with excellent results even though it does not kill the eggs. See phototoxicity !
Commercial Insecticides & Miticides for Spider Mites !

I have not tried these, but they have very good customer reviews and come highly recommended.                                                                                                                                                              a sm-90

  1. SM-90 !
     This is what the manufacture has to say about their product : Prepared from natural plant oils, not synthetic chemicals, it is completely non-toxic to humans and animals. It is bio-degradable and friendly to the environment and it smells good! Not only effective against infestations directly, SM-90 is believed to inhibit future insect colonization or re-infestation. Not only effective against infestations directly, SM-90 is believed to inhibit future insect colonization or re-infestation. Application rate: Dilute 1 part SM-90 with 5 parts water to prepare a foliar spray. May be repeated every 3 days for up to 3 spray applications. Does not kill eggs. and must be sprayed three times three days apart to kill hatchlings. (This is an oil product, so make sure all grow lights are off when spraying and do not turn the lights back on until the product has dried or risk phototoxicity.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     a spidermite killer
  2. Spider Mite Killer by Growers Trust ! This is a new product that is guaranteed for use on medical marijuana and they claim it will kill the spider mites eggs. This is what the manufacture has to say about their product : Spider Mite Killer successfully kills spider mites on contact. Growers Trust uses its exclusive formula to offer an immediate solution to spider mite infiltration of plants . Spider Mite Killer is 100% derived from natural plant-based oils, ensuring the safest method of spider mite extermination. In fact, Spider Mite Killer works hard to infiltrate and block any and all spider mite breathing holes, causing instantaneous suffocation, and thus, complete elimination.Even further, Spider Mite Killer kills the actual spider mite eggs. In doing so, hatching of the eggs themselves becomes improbable, highlighted by the inability to breathe. Scientifically engineered, Spider Mite Killer is truly the ultimate, natural solution to safely eliminating spider mite infestations. Made from a combination of natural plant extracts, Spider Mite Killer can be used at any time from germination through harvest. This appears to be an excellent product and would be my next choice after Azamax.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            a sucrashield
  3.  SucraShield !
    by “Natural Forces” The manufacture says : This is a sugar-based Insecticide/Miticide/Ovicide provides fast and sure biochemical control on a wide range of soft-bodied insects.  Based on natural sugar esters, its unique mode of action creates holes in the target pest, causing rapid death from dessication and suffocation. This may be used up to and including the day of harvest.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             a zero tolerance
  4. Zero Tolerance !
    I have not tried Zero Tolerance, but the reviews are all good. This is what the manufacture has to say about their product : “Ed Rosenthal’s Zero Tolerance™ offers advantages over other natural products, and poisonous pesticides and fungicides. ZT leaves no residue (unlike Neem oil) because the highest quality food grade oils of cinnamon, clove, rosemary, and thyme evaporate fully. It is safer for the garden than Pyrethrum, which is toxic to fish and reptiles.          Spray ZT Pesticide – Ready to Use (“RTU”) once a week as a preventive OR spray at the first sight of infestation. Always use in the evenings. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight immediately after use.           Spray ZT Pesticide RTU on days 1, 4, and 7. Example: Spray on day 1, wait 3 days and spray again (day 4), 3 days later spray again (day 7). This interrupts the life cycle. Continue spraying on days 1, 4, and 7 until mite infestation is eliminated, usually takes 10-14 days of use.                              Zero Tolerance can be applied up to 10 days before harvest. The oils will all evaporate over a four to five day period so there is no after-taste or oil residue.

Predatory Insects !  This is where you bring in one insect to kill off undesirable insects. These predatory insects will not attack or damage your plants they only attack and eat other insects. There are several varieties of predatory mites on the market that will seek out and destroy other varieties of spider mites. The problem with Predatory Insects is your population of undesirable insects needs to be large enough to feed the predators. The Predator insects are expensive, they will never get rid of the invading insects completely and they are slow to do their job of killing the undesirables. I have used Predatory Insects in the past but have found them too slow and just not effective enough.

CO2 For Killing Spider Mites ! Carbon dioxide ! I have not tried this method and it has received mixed reviews. Some folks claim this is all they use. This method is expensive unless you already have the equipment to boost your grow. I would not buy the equipment just to kill spider mites.

        CO2 can be dangerous ! For this method to work you must seal your grow room so it is almost as tight as a Bullfrogs Ass, and that, my friends, is watertight. Now it doesn’t have to be quite that tight but your room should be fairly air tight. Flood the grow room with CO2, expelling all oxygen. This can kill you if you stay in the room, so be careful ! Fill the grow room so concentrations of CO2 are @ 10,000 PPM for 1 hour. All insects should be killed after the one hour period. Ventilate and air out your grow room well before you renter the room. It is possible to do individual plants with CO2 if you are able to seal the plant in a plastic bag and then flood it with the CO2 for an hour.

Aphids !

Aphids also known as “Plant Lice” around the world ! Any of several species of aa an aphidsap-sucking, soft-bodied insects (order Homoptera) that are about the size of a pinhead, with tube-like projections on the abdomen. Serious plant pests, they stunt plant growth, produce plant galls, transmit plant viral diseases, and deform leaves, buds, and flowers. Aphids come in an assortment of colors. They may be green, red, black, yellow, brown and even translucent.

The first sign that your plants have aphids is a sticky residue on the plants leaves. You may also notice what appears as empty bodies or dead aphids that are off white. These empty bodies are actually the molted (sheded) outer shell of the aphid that they shed when growing larger.

An Ant Farming Aphids
   An Ant Farming Aphids

When an aphid colony gets crowed some of them will grow wings to fly to other plants for colonization where there they will shed their wings. You may see these shed wings before you see the actual aphid. The sticky residue that you see is their excrement. This excrement is highly prized by ants for food and is referred to as “Honeydew”.  In fact ants will even farm aphids, like we do cows, protecting them from weather and natural enemies and transferring them from wilted to healthy plants. The ants in turn obtain this honeydew, a sweet product excreted by aphids, which the ants retrieve by “milking” the aphids (stroking their abdomens). Similar to us milking cows aphids will milk the aphids for their honeydew.

Winged Aphid
Winged Aphid

Aphids are born pregnant !  You read that right, many, not all varieties, but many varieties of aphids are born live (no eggs) and pregnant. This is the reason aphids can multiply extremely fast taking over a plant before you are even aware they are there.

Aphids attack all plant parts ! Although aphids love the new tender growth at the top of the plant best, they will attack any where on the plant. They prefer tender new growth and like to hide under the leaves, and they will also cover the stems of the plants. Aphids are particularly fond of flowers.

Aphids Showing Shed Shell
Aphids Showing Shed Shell (white)

Aphids are easy to kill !  Aphids have very soft bodies which make them susceptible to an easy kill. The same methods used to kill spider mites are also very effective against aphids. Aphids do not usually need to be sprayed any more than one time for an effective kill unlike spider mites that take three spraying.

Home Remedies !
  1. Spraying with water ! Use a hard spray of water to wash them off of the plants. repeat as necessary. This is a temporary control. 
  2. Rubbing alcohol and water ! Follow the instructions for mite removal. Spray once maybe twice . I have used this and it works well.
  3. Soap not detergent ! Follow instructions for mite removal. Spray once maybe twice. I have used this and it works well.
  4. Rosemary oil and other botanical oils ! Follow their instructions for removal. Spray once  maybe twice. I have not used these but they should work well for aphids.
  5. Homemade Recipe for Spider Mites ! Also good to kill aphids. Follow instructions for mite removal. Spray once maybe twice. I have not used this but should be good if you follow the instructions explicitly. 
Commercial Products for Aphids !
  1. Insecticidal Soaps ! Spray once maybe twice . I have used this with good results.
  2. Neem Oil ! Spray once maybe twice . I have used this with excellent results.
  3. Azamax !  Spray once maybe twice. I have used this with excellent results.
  4. SM-90 ! Follow their instructions. I have not tried this.
  5. Spider Mite Killer by Growers Trust ! Follow their instructions.  I have not tried this.
  6. SucraShield ! Follow their instructions.  I have not tried this.
  7. Zero Tolerance ! Follow their instructions.  I have not tried this.

Thrips !

Any of some 5,000 species (order Thysanoptera) They have tiny, small slender-bodies, anda thrip narrow feathery wings. Thrips typically have piercing mouth-parts,  sucking the sap out of the plants they attack. Thrips inhabit temperate and tropical areas worldwide. Thrips are generally tiny (1 mm long or less) and are not good fliers, although they can be carried long distances by the wind. They are very small insects with a distinctive cigar-shape. They are elongated with transversely constricted bodies. Thrips can be very difficult to see because of their size and because they move very fast.

Thrips are attracted to blue ! Because thrips are attracted to the color blue and becausea thrip (2) they are so hard to see and find on plants, I like to hang blue sticky traps(cards) around the grow room. These blue sticky traps have no poisons. They are similar to fly paper but a blue card (a little smaller than a postcard) and since they are blue, thrips are attracted to them. These sticky traps are a good indicator to see if your plants have thrips. Monitor these blue cards for thrips, for it is much easier to see them on the blue sticky cards than it is to see them on the plants.

Thrip damage ! Thrip damage can be unnoticeable at first because it starts out so small, a thripbut not as small as spider mite damage. The damage thrips inflict from their sucking the juices and sap from the plants leaves has two different distinct looks. This may depend on the specie attacking your plants. Thrips may leave small yellow lines a millimeter or so long in the leaf. These may be clustered or not. The second look is small silvery colored blotches on the leaves with little black spots in them, which may or may not be clustered. Thrips are an insect that will notice your presence. This seems incredible for such a small insect, but when you touch a leaf for inspection they can run for cover very fast. This is one reason they can be hard to see and find.

Stages of Thrips
Stages of Thrips

Killing Thrips ! Thrips are soft-bodied insects so the methods for elimination is the same as for aphids. I have not tried the first 4 methods for killing thrips, so I don’t know how effective they are.

Home remedies for Thrips !
  1. Rubbing alcohol and water ! Follow the instructions for mite removal. Spray once maybe twice .
  2. Soap not detergent ! Follow instructions for mite removal. Spray once maybe twice.
  3. Rosemary oil and other botanical oils ! Spray once  maybe twice.
  4. Homemade Recipe for Spider Mites !  Also good to kill thrips. Spray once maybe twice.
Commercial Products for Thrips !
  1. Insecticidal Soaps ! Spray once maybe twice . I have used this with fair results.
  2. Neem Oil ! Spray once maybe twice . I have used this with good results.
  3. Azamax !  Spray once maybe twice. I have used this with excellent results.
  4. SM-90 ! Follow their instructions. I have not tried this product.
  5. Spider Mite Killer by Growers Trust ! Follow their instructions. I have not tried this product.
  6. SucraShield ! Follow their instructions. I have not tried this product.
  7. Zero Tolerance ! Follow their instructions. I have not tried this product.

Whitefly !

Whiteflys are a sap-sucking insect from the family Aleyrodidae (order Homoptera).a whiteflies
Nymphs are flat, oval, and usually translucent. Adults, 0.08–0.12 in. (2–3 mm) long, are covered with a white opaque powder and resemble moths. They are abundant in warm climates, on houseplants, and in greenhouses.  Whiteflys also excrete a honeydew, on which grows a sooty fungus that reduces the host plant’s ability to photosynthesize.

Under the leaves ! Whiteflys are usually found on the underside of leaves along with theira Problem-WhiteFly04 eggs and nymphs. Their sap-sucking will leave very tiny white dots in the plants leaves. The adults are very noticeable and easy to spot as they will fly around if you disturb the plants foliage where they are feeding.

Whiteflys are an easy kill but not their eggs ! The adults and nymphs are easy to eliminate but the eggs will require three sprayings for a complete kill. For this reason we treat whiteflys the same as spider mites. Spray three times with a killing mixture, whichever one you choose to use to use to kill the hatchlings. Follow the below remedies for spider mite eradication for killing whitefly.

Home Remedies for Whitefly !
  1. Rubbing alcohol and water ! Follow the instructions for mite removal. Spray three times. I have tried this with fair results.
  2. Soap not detergent ! Follow instructions for mite removal. Spray three times. I have tried this with fair results.
  3. Rosemary oil and other botanical oils !  Spray three times. I have not tried this.
  4. Homemade Recipe for Spider Mites !  Also good to kill whitefly. Spray three times. I have not tried this.
Commercial Products for Whitefly !
  1. Insecticidal Soaps !  Spray three times. I have tried this with good results.
  2. Neem Oil !  Spray three times. I have tried this with very good results.
  3. Azamax !   Spray three times. I have tried this with excellent results.
  4. SM-90 ! Follow their instructions. I have not tried this.
  5. Spider Mite Killer by Growers Trust ! Follow their instructions. I have not tried this.
  6. SucraShield ! Follow their instructions. I have not tried this.
  7. Zero Tolerance ! Follow their instructions. I have not tried this.

Mealybugs !

Mealybugs are insects in the family Pseudococcidae. They are a soft-bodied unarmoreda mealy bud scale insect found in moist, warm climates. Not a true bug, the mealybug is covered by a white sticky powder. The females are about 0.4 in. (1 cm) long, and cluster along the veins and undersides of leaves. Mealybugs are also an insect that sucks out the plants juices weakening the plant it infests.

Cotton on you plants ? That’s not cotton on your plants it’s mealybugs. That is exactly what mealybugs look like, a small dab of cotton, on or in the crevices of your plant.

Mealybug pileup ! Although individual mealybugs are easy to kill an infestation of

Mealybug Pileup
Mealybug Pileup : Picture by “I Love Growing Marijuana.com”

mealybugs are not. The reason is, mealybugs like to pile up on one another. Their pileups may be many insects deep. When sprayed with an insecticide the insecticide will only penetrate a few layers deep into that pile of mealybugs, leaving the ones underneath the pile alive and well. For this reason we treat mealybugs like we do spider mites and spray three times for a full kill, three days apart for each spraying. Most of the  same methods we use for mites can be used for mealy bugs.

Please take note of the picture above from “I love Marijuana . com”. This picture shows a mass of mealybugs piled up on one another. This plant has already been sprayed with an insecticide, but it did not kill all the mealybugs. How can I tell ?  I can tell it has been sprayed because of how the white cotton covering appears. The cotton covering is not fluffy and shows it  has been partially dissolved by the insecticide spray, exposing their pink or orange bodies. Seeing the pink, orange bodies tells me they are still alive.

Home Remedies for Mealybugs !

  1. Spraying with water ! Use a hard spray of water to wash them off of the plants. repeat as necessary. This is a temporary solution.
  2. Rubbing alcohol and water ! Follow the instructions for mite removal. Spray once maybe twice for a light infestation but three or more times if the infestation is heavy. I have tried this and it works well.
  3. Soap not detergent ! Follow instructions for mite removal. Spray once maybe twice for a light infestation but three or more times if the infestation is heavy. I have tried this and it works well.
  4. Rosemary oil and other botanical oils ! Follow instructions for mite removal. Spray once  maybe twice for a light infestation but three or more times if the infestation is heavy. I have not tried these.
  5. Homemade Recipe for Spider Mites ! Also good to kill mealybugs. Follow instructions for mite removal. Spray once maybe twice. I have not tried this.

Commercial Products for Mealybugs !

  1. Insecticidal Soaps ! Spray once maybe twice . I have tried this and it works very well.
  2. Neem Oil ! Spray once maybe twice . I have tried this and it works very good.
  3. Azamax !  Spray once maybe twice. I have tried this and it works excellent.
  4. SM-90 ! Follow their instructions. I have not tried this.
  5. Spider Mite Killer by Growers Trust ! Follow their instructions. I have not tried this.
  6. SucraShield ! Follow their instructions. I have not tried this.
  7. Zero Tolerance ! Follow their instructions. I have not tried this.

A Word On Phototoxicity !

Phototoxicity is a toxic effect by a compound on plant growth. The term phototoxicity is roughly equivalent to spray injury. We have probably all applied sprays at one time or another that inadvertently resulted in plant injury . Even though we  have had positive results before with the same spray, this time our plants were damaged and we don’t know exactly why it occurred, and therefore do not know what we can do to prevent it in the future. This refers to an episode where a common spray, for some unknown reason, and where it has never occurred before, suddenly causes plant injury. Usually in this type of situation weather conditions are a factor. Some sprays are safe in cooler weather whereas they can become very dangerous to plants in high heat conditions. 

Oil Based Pesticides and Insecticides can cause Phototoxicity ! The most common cause of phototoxicity on marijuana plants is spraying your plants in hot conditions with the grow lights on. The second most common cause of phototoxicity is making your spray solution too concentrated. More is not better ! It is always best to start by using the lowest concentration of insecticide listed on the label for control. Increase the concentration in accordance with the instructions if the first concentration didn’t give you a complete kill.

What Phototoxicity does to Marijuana Plants ! Phototoxicity is a chemical burn to the plants leaves caused by the compound applied and triggered by sunlight. The damage on marijuana shows up as bright yellowing of the leaves that are exposed to the sunlight (grow lights). This yellowing appears rather fast after spraying in the following 48 hour period. The way to tell if it is phototoxicity is by looking at the leaves. The leaves exposed to the light will be yellow and the shaded leaves will still be green. As one leaf shades another, you may even see the perfect outline of the upper leaf on the lower leaf. The lower leaf where it was shaded will stay green but the exposed parts of that leaf will be yellow.

Phototoxicity can Kill ! As the word says, this can be toxic to your plants and kill them. It is possible that this condition can cause your plants to defoliate and die. This is especially true if you made you concentration of insecticide too strong and left your grow lights on while spraying. If your mixtures concentration is on the lighter side, your plants will just be unsightly with a lot of yellow leaves but will survive and will slowly grow out of the uglies becoming a lovely plant again. Keep in mind it may take a month or more for your plants to grow out of this condition.

How to Prevent Phototoxicity ! Phototoxicity is easily preventable. Use the lower concentration directions on the insecticides label. Do not spray your plants when the temperature is over 80 degrees F. and never spray your plants with your grow lights on. Do not turn the grow lights back on until the spray has completely dried on the plant. If you are growing outside spray at dusk (twilight) when the sun is at its lowest point on the horizon or on cloudy days.

My Experience With Phototoxicity !  While I was working on a dispensaries grow, I knew about phototoxicity but didn’t think about it much until I came into work one day after spraying and noticed all of my plants were turning yellow. All 600 plants, the vegetating plants, the flowering plants and the mother plants were turning yellow. I just about s__t my pants. The day before, I sprayed with neem oil for spider mites. This was the first time I had used neem oil and I didn’t know what went wrong. Neem was supposed to be safe for marijuana plants. I noticed I had a problem in the first 24 hours after spraying but I blamed it on the neem oil being my first experience with it. The next day the plants were even more yellow. I inspected the plants throughly and realized that just the leaves that the lights were hitting were the yellow ones. The shaded leaves were still a nice healthy green. The leaves that were half shaded were half yellow and half green. It was then, that the light bulb in my head lit up. It was then, I realized what I had done and that it was my fault and not the neem oil. I recognized it was phototoxicity and the only way to prevent it in the future was to spray with the grow lights off.  The plants did recover over time but my boss was not a happy camper. All I can say at this point is : ” Live and learn and pass it on !” and don’t let this happen to you.

Beneficial Insects !

Beneficial insects (sometimes called beneficial bugs) are any of a number of species of insects that perform valued services like pollination and pest control. In farming and agriculture, where the goal is to raise selected crops, insects that hinder the production process are classified as pests, while insects that assist production are considered beneficial. Never expect beneficial insects to control an outbreak of undesirables. I realize that you can buy predator mites and other beneficial insects and I have done so myself, but I found them to be to slow at controlling the insects and they never eliminate the ones you want them to. It is my opinion buying beneficial insects is a waste of money.

Assassin bugs /Damsel Bugs !  Predators as adults and larvae, feeding on aphids, caterpillars, and other pests.a damselbug1250px-Assassin_bug_aug08_02

 

 

 

 

a Damsal Bug

a Beneficial-insects-assassin-bug1

 

 

 

 

 

a Beneficial-insects-assassin-bug-nymph

 

~100mm long including ovipositer The scientific name means 'persuasive burglar'

 

 

 

 

 

Lady beetles / Lady Bugs !  Commonly predaceous as adults and larva. The adults also feed on pollen, nectar, and aphid honeydew.

a ladybug thGUV3PS5W

a beneficial_insects_ladybug_Complete_metamorphosis

 

 

 

 

 

a ladybug thHL52HSON

a lady-beetle-larva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lacewings (Brown and green)!  Adults and larvae are predaceous. The adults also feed on pollen, nectar, and aphid honeydew.

a green lacewing790px-Nothancyla_verreauxi

a lacewing800px-Nothochrysa_fulviceps_bl2

 

 

 

 

 

a Lasewing 19ef61a251253bacdcdf5d215a536037

a lacewing larvae 220px-Chrysoperla_carnea_larva02
Lacewing larvae

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minute Pirate Bug !  Both immature adults and larvae feed on a variety of small prey including thrips, spider mites, insect eggs, aphids, and small caterpillars.

a pirate_bug_l1

230px-Orius_insidiosus_from_USDA_1 minute pirate bug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hoverflies ! Look like bees, but only have 2 wings. Adults feed on pollen and nectar, larvae are predaceous.houver flys 800px-Syrphidae_poster

Soldier Beetles / Ground Beetles ! Adults consume grasshopper eggs, aphids, caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects. Adults also may feed on pollen and nectar.

Soldier Beetle a 800px-Chauliognathus_lugubris

a SoldierBug3

 

 

 

 

 

a beetle mealy bug distroyer

 

 

Parasitic wasps !  Some adults are predaceous, but most feed on pollen and nectar. Eggs are laid and larvae develop in or on hosta800px-Megarhyssa_macrurus_femalea Beneficial-insects-parasitic-wasps1

 

Parasitic wasp th8HIWNZ4N

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightning Bugs ! They are winged beetles, and commonly called fireflies or lightning bugs for their conspicuous use of bioluminescence to attract mates or prey. The larvae of most species are specialized predators and feed on other larvae, terrestrial snails, and slugs. Some are so specialized that they have grooved mandibles that deliver digestive fluids directly to their prey. Adult diet varies: some are predatory, while others feed on plant pollen or nectar. a lightning-buga lightning_bug

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragonflys !  It is characterized by large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong transparent wings, and an elongated body. Dragonflies can sometimes be mistaken for damselflies, which are morphologically similar; however, adults can be differentiated by the fact that the wings of most dragonflies are held away from, and perpendicular to, the body when at rest. Dragonflies possess six legs (like any other insect), but most of them cannot walk well. Dragonflies are among the fastest flying insects in the world. Dragonflies are important predators that eat mosquitoes, and other small insects like flies, bees, ants, wasps, and very rarely butterflies. They are usually found around marshes, lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands because their larvae, known as “nymphs”, are aquatic. Some 5680 different species of dragonflies (Odonata) are known in the world today.Dragon fly 50d99339cb2aa79cdb0e73af8e434b5fBlue dragonfly 3462080170c0459f8ae4926b4d42b22f

 

 

 

 

Praying Mantis ! The English common name for the order is the mantises, or rarely, mantes. The name mantid refers only to members of the family Mantidae. The other common name, often applied to any species in the order, is “praying mantis”, because of the typical “prayer-like” posture with folded fore-limbs. Most mantises are exclusively predatory. Insects form their primary prey, but the diet of a mantis changes as it grows larger. In its first instar a mantis eats small insects such as tiny flies or its own siblings. In later instars it does not or cannot profitably pursue such small prey. In the final instar as a rule the diet still includes more insects than anything else, but large species of mantis have been known to prey on small scorpions, lizards, frogs, birds, snakes, fish, and even rodents.

a Prayingmantisa garden-beneficial-bugs-beneficial-insects-mantids-praying-mantis

 

a a 800px-Mantis-greece-alonisos-0aa a 220px-Large_brown_mantid_close_up_nohair

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stink Bugs ! Some genera of Pentatomidae are considered highly beneficial: the anchor bug, which can be distinguished by the red-orange anchor shape on the adult.  It is a predator of other insects, especially Mexican bean beetles, Japanese beetles, and other pest insects.

a predatory-stink-5364241a 220px-Stiretrus_anchorago

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion !

Winning the war against damaging insects ! The way to win the war against insects is not difficult, unless you let them get out of control. It is up to you to inspect your plants daily and keep a sharp eye out for damage on the plants leaves. Learning what their damage looks like and what the damaging insects look like is your best defense. Seeing the damage and seeing the insects early is the key to keeping it simple to getting rid of them. Once the insects get out of control it can be expensive to eliminate them. Organic commercial products do work the best but can be expensive. The home remedies are good for keeping the insects in check until you can do a more thorough treatment.

Take action at first sign of insects ! As soon as you see insect damage look for the insects that caused it. Take action immediately ! Don’t procrastinate ! The worst thing you can do is wait until later when you have more time. These insects can multiply extremely fast, especially under warm grow lights that are on for 12 to 18 hours or more. Our warm grow rooms are a perfect environment for insect explosions. I always keep AzaMax on hand in case of an outbreak, and you should also, always keep some sort of organic insecticide on hand . Marijuana with insects in the flowering room is every growers nightmare, so when growing organic marijuana be very diligent in checking for insects on a daily basis.

Author, Tom D.

a beneficialinsects_0

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