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Easily one of the least attractive and popular topics in cannabis cultivation is the identification of pests. These little problems come in a variety of sizes, types and shapes, and every one poses at least a minor threat to the health and maintenance of cannabis plants. Some are insidious, while others pack an acute punch – perennially threatening the health of both outdoor and indoor plants.

From the time seeds are planted or clones propagated to when harvest is ultimately completed, there are a variety of pests that can harm and even kill cannabis plants. Like most other outdoor, indoor or greenhouse crop, the cannabis plant can quickly and easily come under fire from a range of sucking and chewing insects: aphids, spider mites, fungus gnats, thrips, whiteflies, caterpillars, snails and slugs, leaf miners, borers and root maggots.1

Of this extensive list, it’s important to understand some basic characteristics of the most prolific offenders in order to learn how to stave off an attack. By getting to know what symptoms typically surface when an infestation by many of these predators is present, devising strategies for how best to manage the pests can be more easily undertaken.

Identifying Problem Cannabis Pests
Three of the most common pests are spider mites, aphids and fungus gnats. Spider mites can be identified by their six-to-eight legs and they generally leave white or yellow spots on the plants where they gnaw on the chlorophyll and leave silky string on the flowers. Aphids are tiny winged bugs that are harder to spot. They can be found under cannabis leaves, on the stem or in the flowers, where they consume the plant’s nutrients and leave yellow and wilting leaves in their wake. Gnats, for their part, swarm the soil, lay eggs and damage roots by reducing soil drainage.2

Some of the other major offenders are leaf miners, whiteflies and caterpillars. Simply enough, caterpillars can be removed by hand or eradicated in combination with an organic solution made of pepper and garlic. The leaf miner, which deposits eggs inside the leaves of cannabis plants, leave brown streaks on the leaves and should likely be dealt with using an insecticide. Lastly, whiteflies are very common and lethal. This pest yellows leaves by chlorosis and can be controlled by planting repellent crops like basil or spraying an organic solution.3 

In terms of dealing head-on with these pests, there are a variety of best practices and solutions that can, and should, be employed. Sanitation is a key theme in pest control, but organic products like neem oil, garlic, tomato leaf, mint and pepper can also be very helpful. In extreme cases, using insecticides and other chemical sprays can also be an effective means of combatting most pest problems. But, always remember, these sprays should be used smartly, and sparsely.4 

  1. "11 common pests that can destroy your cannabis crop." https://www.maximumyield.com/11-common-pests-that-can-destroy-your-cannabis-crop/2/4949
  2. "The 3 most common cannabis pests & how to get rid of them." https://potguide.com/pot-guide-marijuana-news/article/the-3-most-common-cannabis-pests-how-to-get-rid-of-them/
  3. "The most common pests threatening your cannabis plants." https://www.dinafem.org/en/blog/common-pest-cannabis-plants/
  4. "How to prevent pests from invading your outdoor cannabis grow." https://www.dinafem.org/en/blog/common-pest-cannabis-plants/

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