Imagine that you are growing a marijuana plant. You have spent two months in providing the best possible care and maintenance to your plant. You have invested hundreds of dollars in setting it up and can’t wait for the fruits of your labour – to sit under a tree on a summer afternoon and smoke the weed that you have grown. This is a nice and happy thought but one attack of cannabis aphids and all of this can be shattered in mere moments! Aphids are quite dangerous and one of the most common problems that growers all over the world face!
While movies such as A Bug’s Life make you feel all nice and fuzzy about bugs, they are an actual and major threat to farmers all over the world regardless of what they are growing and marijuana plants are not an exception. Over the course of this article, we shall be taking a closer look at what cannabis aphids are, how can you identify that your plants have been infected by them – and how to ensure that these bugs do not damage your plants!
We shall be specifically looking at how to identify aphids too because that is the first step towards controlling them. You should know that these bugs are infecting your growth! Many indoor growers (as well as outdoor growers) tend to take bugs very lightly and think that this is something that cannot happen to them or is a very uncommon phenomenon. You might be surprised at knowing how common it is and how much it can infect the growth of your plant to the point that it can destroy the whole plant and ruin months of your efforts! Let us take a closer look at cannabis aphids.
What are Cannabis Aphids?
Aphids are something that outdoor growers should be extra-careful about as they are commonly found bugs in gardens. Sometimes they are also known by other names such as greenflies and blackflies. They are soft insects which can appear out of nowhere. Sometimes they are green and yellow in color but they also come in different color varieties such as black, red, and brown as well. Sometimes they even develop wings and become what is called ‘winged aphids’ which makes it easier for them to spread across from one plant to the other and cause even more damage. The general body structure of all aphids is pretty similar with the only difference being that winged aphids can fly.
Aphids are small in size and the mature ones can be identified by their round shapes and a more prominent ‘color’ to them while the younger ones are usually tinier and thinner and are white in color. These young aphids are sometimes also referred to as ‘nymphs’ by growers. What really makes it even more difficult to identify an attack of aphids is that they are usually green and yellow in color and can camouflage and hide well with the plants.
While the bodies of aphids are generally green or yellow in color, it is their limbs which are darker in shade. Most aphids also have antennae but they are visible only upon close inspection. Younger aphids might even look like aphid eggs to some people because they are tiny and white. Cannabis aphids are what we are going to focus on in this article – these are the aphids which infect marijuana plants.
Where are Cannabis Aphids Found?
Aphids, as we stated above, are some of the most common type of plant bugs that can infest any plants. Cannabis aphids are very common and are found all over the world. Whether you are growing your plants in the Hindu Kush mountain ranges or you are growing under the sunny California skies, whether you are growing your weed in the Russian drylands or if you are growing them in the Australian outback, there are bound to be some growers who will face attacks from aphids!
Cannabis aphids are found all over the world but the chances of them infecting your marijuana plants is much higher when you are growing outdoors than when you are growing indoors. However, we have heard of stories of people growing indoors also getting their plants infested with aphids but that’s quite uncommon.
Aphid infestations begin when a winged aphid, which is often termed ‘The Colonizer’ lays its eggs on your plants. One thing that you need to know about winged aphids is that they do not cause as much damage to your plants as regular aphids do, but they are a huge breeder, which is a big nuisance as they will give birth to a larger number of aphids who will then infest your plant. Young cannabis aphids (nymphs) usually feed on the sap and take about a week to mature into fully-grown aphids which will then begin to damage your plant’s leaves. Some of them might even get wings and become breeders for other nearby plants. Some aphids will also keep reproducing on the same plant till it dies.
Aphids damage all sorts of plants. Aphids basically ‘eat’ your plants as their mouths have a piercing structure coming out of it which tears into the leaves of plants and tears the cellular structure. These aphids do so in order to feed on the juices that are stored in the leaves of the plants. If there are a large number of aphids present in your plant’s leaves, they will do a lot of cellular damage to the plant and cause it to wilt or turn pale and certain portions will begin to die off.
In addition to that, after they have consumed the juices of your plants, aphids will also leave behind certain secretions. These are often called ‘honeydew’ liquid secretions which are rich in sugars. The problem with this secretion is that it is very prone to catch the growth of a fungus called ‘sooty mold’ – if sooty mold begins to grow in large quantities on your plant you will begin to notice that a dark fungus has covered the leaves. Not only will it kill off your plant, but if it happens during the late stages, it also renders it useless as this mold-infested marijuana plant is no longer safe to smoke. Hence, not only do cannabis aphids damage your plants by destroying the cellular structure, but this waste secreted by them is also dangerous.
In addition to this, once the aphid infestation gets over, you need to start looking out for ants because thanks to the sugary secretions and waste liquids that they leave behind, there will suddenly be a lot of hungry ants just rounding up your plant to consume whatever has been left behind by these cannabis aphids. So there’s another problem that you will need to be alert about.
How to Control Cannabis Aphids?
Now that you are fully aware of what cannabis aphids are and know about their life-cycle and how they breed, it is also important to know how to control these bugs and how to ensure that your plant is growing safely. Let us now take a closer look at some methods, using which you will be able to control these aphids and be able to get rid of them as well.
- The first thing that you need to do is to inspect your plants regularly. Especially if you are growing them outdoors or if you know that there have been previous aphid infestations in your garden (or in nearby areas), you must make sure you are monitoring regularly. It is almost impossible to “predict” their infestation but you will need to watch out – and check your plants for possible infestations almost twice a week. For those wondering where exactly to check, the leaf area is one place, but make sure you are moving the buds around and are also checking on the nodes and the underside of the leaves which is where winged aphids tend to hide.
- In case you spot a colony of aphids – the best way to deal with it is to spray the plants using a power sprayer so that the aphids fall off it. The next thing that you need to do if the infestation is too high is to then even remove some portions of the leaves and the buds that might be infected due to this infestation. And another common mistake that growers tend to make is that they spray off these aphids once and then forget about it. You need to do this regularly and you need to make sure that you are ensuring that all these bugs have been sprayed off properly – and from all plants. Sometimes even sprayed-off aphids might return, so keep checking every 12 hours for a new infestation if you spot them once.
- A third thing to follow would be to make use of insecticidal soaps, which are non-toxic and non-residual. Using these soaps or soapy sprays would ensure that the outer layer of the aphids’ shell would become weaker and they would disperse off. These are safe to use but as a general rule of thumb, most growers ensure that none of this soapy residue enters the buds. Another similar option would be to make use of fatty salts as they have a similar effect on these cannabis aphids.
- Another interesting and all-natural solution towards controlling cannabis aphids is by making use of Neem Oil. While some people have said that this is not good for humans, that might really not be the case. However, as a precaution, most growers tend to spread it only in the leaf and the stem regions and avoid spraying it on the buds. Neem Oil has a pungent and repulsive smell and helps growers control infestations and prevent re-infestations from cannabis aphids.
- Organic insecticides have been another popular option that some growers have been preferring of late. One such thing that you can use to control cannabis aphids in your garden is the use of Spinosad products which are extremely safe. Growers can spray it practically anywhere on the marijuana plant but particularly on the underside of the leaves and at portions from where the stems emerge. These are made by fermenting a kind of soil bacteria which helps fight off these aphids.
- Last but not the least, one more thing that many growers might want to consider is to make use of other beneficial insects which will chase off the aphids without actually damaging your plants. This is a rare solution and not many people actually follow this sort of a thing – but this is still an option. Ladybugs and Beetles are two of the most common such insects who will eat off the aphids. The only problem is that these ladybugs can eat only a fixed amount of aphids in a day and that the reproduction rate is considerably faster than at which they can be munched down by these bugs. Oh, and also, lady bugs tend to fly away soon.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cannabis Aphids
Here are the answers to some FAQs about cannabis aphids:
1. Are there any benefits of aphids?
While there are some insects which leave behind positive effects on your plants, aphids are unfortunately not one of them. Once they are done feeding they will destroy the plant and leave behind secretions which will cause either an invasion of ants or will grow fungus. Hence, there are no positive effects of cannabis aphids.
Yes, there’s a chance that it might happen but the odds of that happening are far lesser in comparison to when growing weed outdoors. If you are using a well-protected room and a grow tent indoors that reduces the odds of any pests and bugs than compared to growing them under the open skies outdoors.
In greenhouses, which are a mix of indoors and outdoors growth, there have been cases of aphid infestations, but they have a lesser chance of that happening than a pure outdoor growth and a higher chance than a pure indoor growth.
To conclude, bugs are dangerous! Aphids can be very damaging to a plant and can wipe out your entire growth in just a few weeks’ time. It is essential for all growers to know what they are, how to identify them and how to ensure that you are removing them from your plants. If there are still any more questions about cannabis aphids, drop them in the comments below or let us know over mail and we shall get back to you shortly! Till then….
…Happy Growing! 🙂
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