Most gardeners have taken the necessary precautions to protect your outdoor grow from pests, both big and small. And while you might have achieved some success in keeping the pesky deer and rabbits from munching on your marijuana, it’s the smallest of pests that become the hardest to defend against. Bugs.
Pesticides, whether synthetic or organic, can leave a residue behind on the plant, even when proper flushing is done. This residue can then remain on the product during the drying and curing process, and could even damage the bud in the end. So how do protect our cannabis from these pesky critters?
Using beneficial bugs and soil treatments in place of any pesticide eliminates this problem.
In addition to being good for the plants and insects that thrive in the garden space, using beneficial bugs instead of pesticides is also good the environment. Each year, an immense amount of chemical runoff is put into the oceans and waterways of the world. That runoff, even with organic pest control pesticides, can create algae blooms, which chokes off the wildlife that relies on those areas for food and shelter.
Pesticides, even those claiming to be organic, can ultimately be harmful to the environment. Introducing beneficial bugs doesn’t just protect the environment they’re placed in, it protects the global environment.
Beneficial Bugs; Most gardeners prefer to use organic insect control as much as possible. This is called integrated pest management. The method of using beneficial bugs in the grow space is really just the act of letting nature be nature. There are no pesticides or chemicals used. Instead, insects are introduced that will be beneficial to the garden and the plants within it. These beneficial insects will prey on the unwanted pests, without actually causing harm to the marijuana plant itself.
While undergoing its natural life cycle, the beneficial bugs will also provide compost for the plant’s soil, and that soil will in turn provide them the moisture, food and life they need. This is why many growers experienced with this method the term organic pest control one step further and call this particular method biological pest control.
Ladybugs are carnivores and will eat just about any insect that has a soft body. They do however, have a particular taste for aphids. As larvae they can eat up to 400 aphids and when they are fully grown, they’ll eat as many as 5,000 every year. They will also munch on pesky mites, especially if they’ve already cleared the area of aphids. These perform best when released in the dark.
Praying mantis. Praying mantises are fun to look at
in the garden during any phase of their life. But in addition to providing
entertainment value, they’ll also eat anything they can kill. Praying mantises are very fast predators. They are ambushers meaning they sit and wait for their prey to come by. These are great predators to tackle larger leaf eating pests that your lady bugs might be too timid to handle.
Green lacewings. These highly effective carnivores are not picky about what they eat; if they can grab it between their pincers, they will most likely eat it. They like aphids in particular, and larvae will consume up to 200 aphids a week and will walk as far as 100 feet for their meal. Despite its beautiful, poetic name, the green lacewing is deadly to almost any soft-bodied insect pest and its eggs. In its larval stage — when it’s known as the “aphid lion” or “aphid wolf” — it’s a voracious consumer of problem insects, known to devour over 200 aphids in a week. If it runs out of food, it will cannibalize other lacewing larvae. In its adult stage, it lives up to its name, feeding only on nectar and pollen.
Spider mite predators. Their benefit is right there in the name – these beneficial bugs love to eat spider mites. They breed twice as fast as their prey, meaning there are twice as more of them in any one garden. As larvae they’ll consume 5 to 20 mites per day and by the time they’re adults that number will increase to as many as 40.
Whitefly parasites. These bugs love whiteflies and have attacked them even before they’ve been born. In addition to the pests mentioned above that are most sought after by beneficial bugs, the majority of them also enjoy flies and mealy bugs.
Treating the soil: If going with beneficial bugs alone doesn’t feel like a formidable defense for your garden, here are a few of the best non-toxic controls are sold in most good garden centers.
Ryanodine or Eight Garden Dust. This is effective control for codling moths. This is a plant resin and is an internal stomach poison that kills leaf eaters. It is also used against corn earworms and borers, houseflies, fruit moths, asparagus beetles, fungus gnats, and fruit flies. It affects pests adversely but is gentle to beneficial insects and safe for mammals. It will not injure plant tissues. Dilute this powder at the rate of 5 tablespoons per gallon of water. When diluting any chemicals, try using a little olive oil or a small amount of mild dish soap with the product. This helps it stick to the leaves.