Common Pests in Cannabis and How to Kill Them

by | Dec 13, 2022

Written by Kristina Etter

Kristina is a digital content creator and designer. She has a talent for creating engaging and informative content that resonates with our professional audience. Kristina’s passion for the cannabis industry stems from her belief that it has the potential to revolutionize the world in many ways, and has a personal testimony of cannabis success.

Pests in cannabis cultivation facilities can wreak havoc on a grow. Learn which pests can cause the most damage and what steps to take to eradicate them.

Pest management is a complex and essential part of commercial cannabis cultivation. Using a combination of control methods, growers can keep pests in cannabis under control and produce healthy, high-yielding plants.

The very nature of cannabis cultivation can often lead to viral and microbial contamination. This is because cannabis plants are often grown in close proximity to one another, which can allow for the easy spread of viruses and microbes. Just like humans, plants should be appropriately socially distanced to help maintain optimal health and prevent the spread of disease.

In addition, cannabis plants are typically grown in humid and warm conditions, which can also lead to the growth of mold and mildew. To avoid these problems, it is crucial to practice good hygiene and sanitation in the grow room and ensure that all equipment and supplies are clean.

Still not convinced? Let’s review some of the pests in cannabis cultivation and the damage they can cause.

COMMON INSECT PESTS IN CANNABIS

Cannabis plants are susceptible to various pests, including aphids, whiteflies, spider mites, and mealybugs. These pests in cannabis can cause serious damage to plants, including stunted growth, reduced yields, and even death.

  • Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on plant sap. They can be black, green, or brown and are often found in large numbers on the undersides of leaves.
  • Whiteflies are small, white insects that also feed on plant sap. They can be found on the undersides of leaves and in flower buds.
  • Spider mites are tiny, red, spider-like creatures that feed on plant cells. Mealybugs are small, white, fuzzy insects that feed on plant sap.
pests in cannabis

INSECT CONTROL METHODS

Pest management strategies for commercial cannabis cultivation include cultural, physical, chemical, and biological control methods.

  • Cultural control methods include crop rotation, the use of resistant varieties, and the removal of infested plant parts.
  • Physical control methods include using barriers like screens and nets and destroying infested plant materials.
  • Chemical control methods include the use of insecticides and miticides.
  • Biological control methods include using beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and green lacewings, to eat pests.

MOLDS AND FUNGI PESTS IN CANNABIS

Molds and fungi can be a big problem in cannabis cultivation. Many different types of molds and fungi can attack your plants and be very difficult to control. Some common types of molds and fungi that you may encounter in cannabis cultivation include:

  • Powdery or Downy mildew: These are common mold types that can attack both indoor and outdoor plants. They look like a powdery gray or white substance and can spread quickly.
  • Fusarium & Verticillium: These types of fungus can attack both indoor and outdoor plants, causing stunted growth, yellowing of leaves, and can eventually kill the plants.
  • Sclerotinia & Botrytis: These fungi attack indoor and outdoor plants, causing the leaves to turn brown and wilt.
  • Rhizoctonia & Phytophthora: These fungi attack indoor and outdoor plants, causing the plant’s roots to rot.

PREVENTING MOLD & FUNGUS PESTS IN CANNABIS CULTIVATION

Mold and fungus can be a big problem in commercial cannabis grow operations. To prevent mold and fungus pests in cannabis, you should take the following steps:

  1. Ensure the grow room is well-ventilated with proper HVAC solutions to maintain a consistent environment.
  2. Keep the grow area clean and free of debris.
  3. Inspect plants regularly for signs of mold or fungus.
  4. Remove the affected plants immediately.
  5. Disinfect any surfaces that come into contact with the affected plants.

These steps can help prevent mold and fungus from becoming a problem in a commercial cannabis grow operation.

Additionally, companies like SafetyNet America can help keep cannabis facilities free of contaminants by using a highly effective biostatic/fungistatic/algistatic antimicrobial surface treatment that forms a covalent bond on surfaces to help prevent future contamination.

VIRUS PESTS IN CANNABIS PLANTS

PathogenDx testing solutions can help growers determine precisely what kind of invaders they are dealing with. Cannabis plants can be affected by several different types of viruses, including:

  • Hops latent viroid (HLVd)
  • Lettuce chlorosis virus (LCV)
  • Cannabis cryptic virus (CanCV)
  • Beet curly top virus (BCTV)
  • Tobacco streak virus (TSV)
  • Arabis mosaic virus (ArMV)
  • Alfafa mosaic virus (AMV)
  • Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV)
  • Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV)

These viruses can cause a range of symptoms in cannabis plants, including leaf discoloration, stunted growth, and reduced yields. In some cases, viruses can also cause plants to become more susceptible to pests and diseases.

In fact, according to PathogenDx’s website, “Legal Cannabis and Hemp production is a $10B industry in the U.S. However, viral threats could wipe out as much as 30% of the yield of every Cannabis grow and Hemp crop. Already, Hop Latent Viroid may account for an estimated $4 Billion in yield losses alone.”

TESTING SOLUTIONS COMBINED WITH REMEDIATION

The testing and analysis provided by PathogenDx, combined with decontamination and remediation solutions from SafetyNet, offer a complete bio-security system to help growers maintain the cleanest environment possible to help ensure the vitality of their crops and take a proactive approach to limiting pests in cannabis.

PathogenDx testing solutions include:

  • Detect– test up to 100 samples per day for 20 known pathogenic microbial organisms
  • Quantx – quantify total yeast, mold, and bacterial organizations
  • Envirox – Swab floors, walls, ceilings, and all surfaces to identify environmental threats
  • Detectx Dual Hyb – DNA testing for bacterial and fungal species

SafetyNet BioSecurity Program includes:

  • Surface Disinfection
  • Personnel Compliance
  • Air & Water Purification

THE CASE STUDY WE’RE FOLLOWING

This week, Cannabis Tech followed a real-world case study with PathogenDx performed testing and analysis on a medical cannabis facility, and SafetyNet USA applied remediation and decontamination of these pests in cannabis facilities. The second in a series of three podcasts; next week, we’ll be speaking with these companies about the process at this location and how these two types of technology work together to help ensure a clean cannabis cultivation facility.

Watch for the release of this podcast coming soon to all Cannabis Tech’s podcast channels!