Whiteflies are a common cannabis pest that are luckily easy to detect, especially due to the damaging nature they can cause. Without noticing and properly treating whiteflies on weed plants, their existence can be quite detrimental. So, like with many factors in growing cannabis, it’s important to be aware of common issues such as whiteflies so you can catch them before it’s too late. That’s why we’ve compiled your complete guide to cannabis whiteflies, the symptoms to look for, and how to treat infestations if or when they appear.
What Are Whiteflies And What Do They Look Like?
Whiteflies are a commonly found garden pest that pop up in cannabis crops quite frequently. Cannabis whiteflies look like tiny white flying bugs. Many gardeners also call them tiny white moths. Like spider mites, whiteflies on weed plants congregate on the underside of leaves, soaking up as much of the plant’s essential nutrients as they can. Whiteflies are about 2mm in length and will lay eggs on the leaves they live on. If you suspect you may have a whitefly infestation on your cannabis plant, shake the plant gently and watch for the tiny white flying bugs jumping into the air.
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Symptoms Of Whiteflies On Weed Plants
Beyond seeing tiny white moths with your own eyes, your plant will also show the symptoms of a whitefly infestation. Here are a few telltale signs to look for when investigating possible cannabis whiteflies:
- Eggs are found in circular areas on the underside of leaves, usually in groups of 30-40.
- Whiteflies suck nutrients from the leaves, leaving white puncture holes at the site of their feeding.
- Leaves may turn yellow or begin dying off when an infestation is present and untreated.
- Whiteflies excrete nutrients onto leaves, leaving a sticky substance known as honeydew. Another sign of honeydew being present is invading ants as they are attracted to the substance.
Cannabis Plant Symptoms
How To Get Rid Of Cannabis Whiteflies
Whiteflies can grow in population quickly, so you’ll want to catch their infestation as early as possible. Here are some simple steps you can take to get rid of whiteflies and keep them from returning.
Adjust Environmental Factors
Before directly addressing infected areas, it’s imperative to adjust a few environmental factors that can help whiteflies thrive. The first step is to drop the temperature in your grow room or area if you’re growing indoors. An ideal temperature range to deter pests is usually between 68-77ºF (20-25ºC). For a temporary period of time, you may want to lower the temperature slightly below 68ºF (20ºC) to fight off a growing infestation. Just don’t go so low as to damage the overall health of your plants. Having proper ventilation and airflow will also help to keep the area dust-free.
Temperature For Growing Marijuana
Discard Infected Areas
Prior to cleaning up and sanitizing, you’ll want to cut off any whitefly damage that cannabis plants are showing. Prune the leaves or stalks where necessary and discard the infected material completely to avoid infecting other plants. Some growers also choose to hose down their plants to remove any additional whiteflies or eggs.
Introduce Cannabis-Friendly Predators
One of the most effective and organic solutions to getting rid of cannabis pests is to introduce cannabis-friendly and predatory pests. For cannabis whiteflies, these include ladybugs, lacewings, and predatory mites, all of which are known to prey on whiteflies and their eggs. This will successfully get rid of whitefly infestations at the source while also combating other common pests that are notorious when growing cannabis.
Broad Mites & Cannabis
Try Organic Insecticides And Oils
If all else fails, or if you want to take extra precautions, there are a few organic insecticides and oils that are proven remedies for cannabis whiteflies. Here are the top options for the additional treatment of whiteflies on weed plants.
Insecticidal soaps or common fatty acid salts can be helpful in treating whiteflies. They work by weakening the shells of the pests, and are preferred by growers for leaving little to no residue. When using insecticidal soaps, remember that coverage is key and re-application may be necessary. Even though this method is considered organic and safe, avoid getting the liquid on your buds if you’re in the flowering stage.
Neem oil is another common organic product that can be used to thwart many cannabis molds and pests, including the tiny white flying bugs, whiteflies. To use neem oil effectively, you’ll want to purchase a ‘mister’, since oil and water can separate easily. Like insecticidal soaps, you’ll also want to avoid getting neem oil on buds, as this can be harmful to ingest and leaves an unappealing taste and smell besides.
Spinosad products are designed to be 100% organic and can do virtually no harm to plants. It’s even safe to be used near pets and children. You can liberally apply this solution anywhere on the plant, including under the infected leaves. This insecticide is made by fermenting a specific soil bacteria that kills cannabis whiteflies directly. The bacteria swiftly ingests the whiteflies or affects their central nervous system. It’s also recommended to use a mister for the application of Spinosad.
Essentria IC3 combines a blend of horticultural oils that’s safe for human use and organic in nature. Most commonly known for treating bed bugs, Essentria IC3 is also effective at treating cannabis whiteflies. The one drawback to the product is that it only lasts on the plant for 8 hours, so it will require daily re-application until the infestation has ceased. It’s best to apply Essentria IC3 with a mister type applicator, too.
Treat Or, Even Better, Prevent Cannabis Whiteflies
Catching cannabis whiteflies before an infestation grows is key in any growing operation. Now that you know how to detect the early signs of the tiny white moths, you can add the symptoms to your checklist while routinely monitoring your plants. Luckily, whiteflies on weed plants are somewhat simple to treat, and easy to prevent with just a few extra precautions.
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