Did you see yellow spots on your cannabis plants’ leaves? It might be aphids! Here’s how to get rid of aphids on cannabis plants without ruining your weed.
Aphids and spider mites are common pests on plants such as the cannabis sativa. Cannabis growers should vary from aphid infestation because it can completely destroy their crop.
One way to avoid aphids is to plant bug-repellent plants such as garlic, chives, and others near the cannabis plants.
Alternatively, you can regularly apply essential oils such as neem oil around cannabis leaves to make it an inhospitable environment for aphids.
In this blog, we explore more ways to kill or repel aphids on your precious weed plants.
How Can You Identify That Your Plant Is Infested?
Aphids make their homes on the stems and leaves of your cannabis plants. The varieties other than green are easy to spot. You can remove them manually at an early stage of infestation.
You might find aphid eggs on the undersides of the leaves rather than the upper surface that directly faces the sunlight.
One early sign of an aphid infestation is ant colonies forming along the stems of the cannabis. Aphids secrete a sticky substance called honeydew which is a favorite treat of the ants.
Ants get this secretion from aphids and, in return, give protection to them from other parasites. The two species exist in a mutualistic relationship.
When aphids are feeding a cell sap of a cannabis leaf, the leaf gets wilted or curled.
How Harmful Are Aphids To Your Cannabis Plants?
Aphids suck plant sap from the soft and fleshy parts of your cannabis. The growing parts of the plant are usually soft because secondary growth does not occur in these cells (called meristematic cells).
As aphids feed on the sap of these growing parts of the plant, they take out all the useful nutrients that the plant would need for its growth. As a result, an aphid infestation results in a stunted plant.
When aphids feed on leaves, they damage the leaf cells, causing them to get curled up or wilt.
The weed leaves, the main product of the cannabis plant, become incapable of functioning and ultimately fall off.
Root aphids dig a burrow in the roots and suck on all the dissolved minerals that the roots absorb for the plant. This leaves the plant devoid of any essential nutrients. Sustained aphid infestation will ultimately cause your entire plant to die.
How Quickly Can Aphids Destroy A Plant?
Aphids are tiny, but they increase in number exponentially. They have two ways to produce offspring: sexual and asexual. Both help them to be very resilient to total destruction.
Female aphids undergo a process called Thereto, whereby they produce clones of themselves. In the later spring or pre-winter, males and females breed and lay eggs that can sustain cold temperatures.
A few aphids can become a hundred in a month, and a hundred can become a thousand in the second month.
These thousands of aphids are enough to feed on your entire cannabis plant’s nutrients. They leave your plant vulnerable to other plant diseases and insects such as fungus gnats.
How To Remove Aphids From Weed?
If you spot aphids on weed, you should act immediately to remove them. Some ways that work include manually removing them, spraying them with a jet of water or insecticidal soap, using essential oils, and introducing beneficial insects to your weed plantation. In this section, we will explain these methods in detail.
Manually Remove Them
If you see just a few of the aphids in your cannabis plant, you might not want to use any insecticidal chemicals. Rather, you can hand-pick and crush them.
Take a damp towel and pick the aphids from your plant and kill them. Make sure to clean the residue plant sap with a wet towel to avoid attracting more aphids and other bugs.
Spray With A Jet of Water
If your cannabis leaves are full of aphids, try removing them with a jet of water. Set your hose to a high-power setting to spray the underside of leaves.
Do this twice a day, once early in the morning and once in the evening. Continue the process to prevent aphids from your cannabis plants.
Insecticidal Soap Solution
If your cannabis plant leaves are severely infested, it would be best to use insecticidal soap made of potassium and fatty acids.
They are a good option for removing soft-shelled pests such as aphids. You can make a solution of Insecticidal soap and spray it on the leaves regularly until you get rid of any pest insects.
Many essential oils such as clove oil, neem oil, and peppermint oil act as natural insecticides and pesticides. They can quickly remove aphids from your garden.
Additionally, you can use them to prevent any further infestation as they make your plants inhospitable for insects.
Many commercial pesticides are available, which might be efficient in removing the insects but can cause harm to your weed plant.
It would be better if you prepare your own organic pesticides at home and spray them in the morning every day until the infestation is gone.
You can make a simple pesticide by mixing equal parts of dish soap and water. You can also add some cayenne pepper for a better insecticidal effect.
It is better not to use substances such as banana peel and coffee grounds as they may attract other insects.
Another common method of controlling aphids is to use of biological control.
You can buy or attract natural predators of aphids such as ladybugs, lady beetles, predatory nematodes, lacewings, and hummingbirds and introduce them to your weed garden.
These birds and insects keep the aphid population in check and wouldn’t allow them in your garden.
If nothing seems to work in getting rid of the aphid population, try pruning the leaves. First, cut the leaves of the infested weed plant, then leave them for a day.
If you still find aphids on some other leaves or stems, then remove those as well. Wait for a few days and repeat the process. But make sure not to remove more than one-third of the plant.
Some plants and their plant debris attract a few aphid species and other insects. It would be wise not to grow such plants around your weed plantation areas.
Kitchen plants such as peas, potatoes, eggplant, sweet potato, green beans, asparagus, and others fall in this category.
Instead, you can grow plants such as garlic, oregano, cilantro, and chives around your weed plant. These are insect repellent and would keep aphids away from the area they are grown.
Apart from the already mentioned methods, you can try other ways such as
- Keeping your cannabis plant watered
- Getting rid of ants as they attract aphids. Ants and aphids exist in a symbiotic relationship and if you can locate ant colonies around the weed plant, make sure to eliminate them immediately.
- Using neem Oil as a prevention
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you get rid of aphids when flowering?
You can use mild organic insecticides in the area of infestation or wipe off the aphids manually with a damp towel and crush them.
Alternatively, you can opt for non-chemical methods such as pruning or biological control through many insects, such as ladybirds and parasitic wasps.
How do you get rid of aphids permanently?
The permanent solution for removing aphids is to use chemical insecticides on your plants in the morning every day till the infestation goes away completely.
Additionally, start spraying natural insect repellants such as neem Oil and release beneficial insects around the plantation area.
How do you treat aphid infestation?
Treatment of aphid infestation is a long and tedious process. You need to be consistent in spraying natural or organic pesticides on your plants.
Spray twice a day until the aphid infestation is gone. Moreover, you need to prevent further infestation by keeping your plants watered or using essential oils on the plants.
How do you make an aphid spray?
You can make a mixture of aphid spray in your home by adding equal parts of water and dish soap.
For better effect, you can add some essential oils, such as clove oil or cayenne pepper, to the solution. Shake the mixture properly before spraying it on the plants.
Aphids have short life cycles of about 30 to 40 days, yet they are very hard to get rid of from your plant because they reproduce so quickly.
Use preventive measures to avoid infestation or immediately follow the methods we talked about above to get rid of the aphids. Thank you for reading!
Over the years, our readers have sent us several emails on this topic. Please go through them below.
Letter 1 – Aphid on Cannabis
Subject: On my woody plant
Geographic location of the bug: Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Time: 11:54 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: What’s That Bug?
How you want your letter signed: Max Yield
Dear Max Yield,
This is an Aphid that feeds by piercing the soft membranes of new shoots of plants and sucking the fluids. Aphids will quickly multiply. Ants have a symbiotic relationship with Aphids, caring for them and moving them to new plants, spreading the infestations. Ants benefit by feeding off the honeydew excreted by Aphids and Aphids benefit from the protection. An Aphid infestation will compromise the health of your plant and tender shoots will sometimes wither when there are large numbers of Aphids.
Letter 2 – Aphids on indoor Cannabis
Subject: Unknown insect
Geographic location of the bug: Ottawa Ontario Canada
Time: 12:41 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Not sure if these are thrips or aphids? any help identifying and eradicating these would be appreciated. This is my third indoor crop over winter that has been infested over this winter so far 🙁
Thank you very much!
How you want your letter signed: Thank you
These appear to be Aphids, and they appear to be on a Cannabis leaflet, so we are assuming you are growing Marijuana indoors. This article on Canna Connection might have some helpful information for you as does Royal Queen Seeds. Because female Aphids are able to give birth asexually, they do not require mating and populations of Aphids can increase quite rapidly. Indoor growing has its own set of challenges, and keeping plants pest-free is often difficult.
Letter 3 – Probably Aphid found on Medical Marijuana
Subject: Just found these on my medical cannabis.
October 14, 2014 7:19 pm
Hey bug man. Just found these crawling on the pots of my cannabis plants. Look like mites. Larger ones have two pronounced “tails”. You can see one of these tails in the photo below.
I am hoping to get an answer as I haven’t been able to find much online.
Thanks so much for your time.
We believe this is an Aphid, and you mentioned “larger ones” in your request which means there are also smaller ones. Aphids reproduce parthenogenically without fertilization, with females giving live birth to offspring, so there are often various sizes of Aphids found together. Young are nymphs that go through simple metamorphosis, so except for size, different ages look quite similar. We found much literature online regarding Aphids and the culture of Marijuana, including this page on the I Love Growing Marijuana site. Aphids plague many gardeners of roses and plants other than marijuana, and there are many predators of Aphids that are helpful for people who do organic gardening. Organic nurseries often sell Lady Beetles or Lacewings to eat Aphids, but they are not necessarily native predators. Rather than introducing predators that might negatively affect the local ecosystem, we would advise trying to encourage native predators.