White flies are one of the most common annoying pests to afflict cannabis crops, and it’s important to keep an eye out for them. These tiny insects, just 1.5mm in length, feast on the sap of plants and can cause significant damage if a heavy infestation is left unchecked. The most notorious species in relation to cannabis is the greenhouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum).
Whitefly infestations spread rapidly and reproduce quickly in large numbers, so controlling them is often a challenge once they’re established. However, there are steps you can take to prevent or control a whitefly invasion—such as using insecticidal soap and neem oil—but you may need to consult professional cannabis pest controllers if things get really bad.
If left untreated for too long, these little pests can really do a number on your weed crop. On top of that, whiteflies also produce a sticky honeydew secretion made from the sap they feed on which promotes fungal growth that can damage not only your plants but other nearby vegetation too.
What Do Whiteflies Look Like?
Whiteflies are a common pest found in many home gardens. They are typically small, pale-colored insects with wingspans of less than 3mm and can vary in appearance depending on the species. On average, female whiteflies are usually around one to one-and-a-half millimeters long while males are even smaller.
The most easily observable difference between whitefly species is the number of wings they possess; some species have four wings that lie folded alongside their bodies when at rest, whereas other species only have two.
Whiteflies also possess two eyes that are located on either side of the head. These pesky bugs feed by piercing the leaves of plants and sucking out plant sap which can result in a loss of vigor for affected plants.
To control whiteflies it’s important to correctly identify them first so homeowners can then implement appropriate cannabis pest management practices such as removing weeds and damaged plants or using insecticide sprays.
The Whitefly Life Cycle
The whitefly life cycle is intriguing, as they are able to move quickly through the phases of their lifespan. They begin by laying eggs, in clutches of around 80–300, which take 6 days to hatch. It starts with a newly hatched larva known as a first instar and is followed by three more stages known as the second instar, third instar, and fourth instar.
In total, there are four different developmental phases that occur upon hatching and once complete the life cycle is completed in roughly 28 days.
Signs of a Cannabis Whitefly Infestation
Whitefly infestations can be tricky to spot but there are a handful of signs that can alert you to the presence of these pests. As the name suggests, whiteflies might be visible on the leaves of your plants moving about and clinging to stems.
One definitive sign of their presence is egg clutches, which vary in size and shape depending on the whiteflies involved. Feeding from whiteflies may leave yellow or translucent marks across parts of the leaf surface, though this isn’t always so apparent until a closer inspection has been made. You may also find honeydew, which is a sugary waste product that whiteflies produce when they feed off plants.
Where Do Whiteflies Lay Eggs?
Whiteflies lay their eggs on the underside of leaves, usually in a spiral or arc pattern. The eggs are small and white and can be difficult to see at first glance. They have an Elongated shape with ridges across the length and may even appear shiny. When viewed closely, it is possible to distinguish one egg from another.
How to Treat White flies on Cannabis
The rapid development and breeding of whiteflies make them difficult to control. It is crucial to take prompt action when you first notice signs of an infestation, as waiting will only allow the problem to worsen. Whiteflies will not disappear on their own, so it is essential to take immediate steps to address the issue.
Pruning and Hosing
Pruning is an effective way to manage a whitefly infestation. You should remove any infected leaves and discard them away from the cannabis plant immediately. Make sure to wear gloves while performing this task and dispose of your pruning in a sealed plastic bag, ensuring that the pests don’t spread.
In addition to pruning, you may want to try hosing down your outdoor plants with a jet of water. Whiteflies lay eggs which attach themselves firmly to the cannabis plant. The whitefly eggs are notoriously hard to remove without high-pressure water, but too much pressure could damage your crop. If you decide to use this method, be sure to do so gently and leave no standing water puddles on the foliage.
Introduce Beneficial Insects
Introducing beneficial adult insects into the grow environment is a great way to help control and reduce the impact of pests like giant whiteflies. Ladybugs, lacewings, and predatory mites are all-natural predators of whiteflies that can provide an effective and powerful solution for preventing infestations.
Ladybugs in particular are especially effective in controlling whitefly populations since they feed on both the adults and their eggs, helping to prevent further reproduction.
Spinosad is an organic compound that can be used to rid of not only flies but also adult whiteflies and other pests. Coming from naturally occurring bacteria, this product is harmless for both large animals and humans; thus, it can be used safely around the home.
The great thing about spinosad is that it won’t leave long-lasting damage on our environment either as it fully breaks down within 24 hours. As such, it provides an excellent way of getting rid of pesky pests while avoiding any unnecessary obstacles.
Although a couple of applications of spinosad may be needed to take full effect against some pests, one cannot deny the convenience and safety preventative measures provided by this product when managing these creatures.
Insecticidal soap is a great way to rid your houseplants of unwanted pests. While it may take multiple applications, it can be very effective in the removal of annoying bugs like whiteflies. To make your own insecticidal soap, you simply need to mix 10ml of household soap with one liter of water.
Using a misting bottle, spray the mixture onto both the tops and bottoms of the plant’s leaves for maximum impact. By doing so, you’ll ensure that every fly in the grow area has been taken care of, without having to worry about any buds inadvertently getting affected by the mixture.
Insecticidal soap is an incredibly safe and simple way to treat marijuana plants that have been infested by pests. As long as users apply the solution properly and repeatedly enough, they can easily eradicate these irritating insects without having to worry about potential damage.
Neem oil is a powerful and natural insecticide that has gained favor among organic producers, including within the cannabis industry. It is an effective solution to tackle pest infestations without being too damaging to the environment.
Neem oil works by attacking and killing most insects, but it may pose risks to humans if ingested. To give neem oil added efficiency against pests, consider using an insecticidal soap beforehand as it softens their outer shells and helps the insecticide work better.
Another benefit of using neem oil is that it can be utilized both on weed plants as well as in soil due to its quick-acting properties and long-lasting effectiveness. In addition, neem oil breaks down quickly in the environment with minimal risk for other organisms or non-targeted life.
How to Prevent a Whitefly Infestation on Cannabis
To avoid a whitefly infestation, it is advisable to take preventive measures. Although it is not possible to completely eliminate the risk, there are some steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of an infestation.
Clean the Grow Space
When it comes to cultivating robust and healthy plants, ensuring the cleanliness of the growing space is a critical step. Before bringing your weed plants into any grow room or greenhouse, make sure to give everything a thorough cleaning and try to get the space fairly sterile.
This can be done using standard household products like bleach and ammonia, or specialized cleaning agents such as hydrogen peroxide, alcohols, or plant-safe soaps. Start by using a broom or vacuum to remove any dirt, debris, dust and cobwebs from the floor and ceiling of the space.
Next, use an appropriate cleaning agent on all surfaces in the room including walls, floors, and windowsills. Finally disinfect every corner with a hand brush paying extra attention to doorframes and vents where pests could easily hide out.
Control the Environment
Maintaining the environment of a grow room is the best way to avoid any unpleasant surprises with whiteflies. Temperature is especially important for keeping this pest in check; an ideal temperature range for discouraging whitefly activity is between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius (68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit).
If you have noticed a whitefly population, consider bringing the temperature down slightly below 20 Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), though be careful not to subject marijuana plants to temperatures below 16 Celsius (60 Fahrenheit). Additionally, it’s essential that your grow room also has good ventilation, as stagnant air invites more pests into your garden.
Keeping dust, extra insects, and humidity at bay all help discourage whiteflies by eliminating their food sources or predators. If your space favors the environment that they flourish in, they will quickly become the utmost pests in an unsuspecting gardener’s nightmare.
Knowing how to control these kinds of pests by adjusting the grow room environment can save you time and money while ensuring your plants remain healthy and pest-free. Despite their small size, these insects can cause quite an impact on a wide variety of crops so making sure your environment doesn’t favor them is paramount!
Preventative spraying can be an effective tool for keeping pests and other harmful organisms away from crops. In large-scale growing operations, a regular regimen of spraying with neem oil every twenty days or so can help ward off potential problems before they arise. Neem oil is a natural fungicide that works to repel insects and discourage stunted growth on cannabis plants.
By coating the leaves of the plant in neem oil, growers are ensuring their crops stay healthy. Furthermore, because neem oil breaks down quickly in soil, there is no worry about damaging the environment or leaving any potentially toxic residue behind.
Using preventative sprays can save money in the long run by eliminating costly infestations or infections that could kill entire fields of harvested agricultural products. Even if you only have a smaller grow on your hands, having a plan for regularly spraying pertinent areas of your landscape with neem oil is still beneficial and will alleviate some of the worries associated with battling active pests and diseases.
Sticky traps can be a great addition to any green thumb’s preventative pest control arsenal. When hung around plants from the first day of their existence, they can provide a strong and early defensive barrier against unwelcome insects such as whiteflies.
The hope is that these sticky traps will draw away any errant whiteflies as well as prevent others from ever reaching your beloved vegetative friends in the first place.
Beyond simply having sticky traps hang around the perimeter of your precious plant babies, other proactive measures can also help contribute to protecting potential infestations and outbreaks before they have time to take hold.
That said, hanging sticky traps are an excellent starting point and should not be either overlooked or underestimated when considering ways to keep your garden healthy and beautiful!