How To Deal With Cannabis Root Aphids: Identification & Treatment
One of the many threats a gardener faces is pest infestation. While some bugs may benefit plants, cannabis root aphids harm your marijuana crops by sucking the sap.
You could lose all your weed if you don’t address this issue. It’s essential to know what root aphids are, the damage they cause, how to identify them, and ways to treat the problem. Discover how to get rid of these pests and prevent an infestation below.
Let’s dive in.
What are cannabis root aphids?
Root aphids from the Phylloxeridae family are among the many common cannabis pests that threaten your plants. Unlike other species that live on leaves and stems, they reside below the soil surface.
These insects propagate in massive numbers and leach nutrients, destroying the roots. If you don’t treat the infestation, they could suck the life from your marijuana plants and kill them.
As it’s tricky to detect a cannabis root aphid, knowing how to identify it is vital.
How to identify cannabis root aphids
Root aphids come in various colors, but most are white, whitish-yellow, or brown. The adults are pear-shaped and have short legs and antennae. They have cornicles, tubes projecting from their abdomen, and sucking and piercing mouthparts to drain sap from the roots.
A sign of aphids in the soil is the presence of a white, waxy substance they secrete to cover them. As mealybugs spread a similar matter, inspect your cannabis roots with a hand lens to correctly identify the insect.
How do root aphids on cannabis damage the plants?
After hatching, cannabis root aphids bore into the plant’s base. They create scars when they feed that leave crops susceptible to mildew, root rot, and other diseases.
As the infestation progresses, the pests harm other parts of the cannabis plant anatomy by crawling up the stem in search of food.
Some adults develop wings during the later stages of their life cycle, enabling them to seek new prey. Root aphids also attract ants, which attack and harm other plant parts.
Symptoms of root aphids
Early detection of an infestation of root aphids on weed plants and treating it is crucial to saving your crops. As the insects are tiny and propagate below the soil surface, it’s tricky to spot them. You can see them at the sides of growing pots through a meticulous inspection.
When root aphids damage your crops, you notice that plants lack vigor. Yellow leaves that curl and wither are also indications of a potential infestation. As the symptoms are similar to other issues, such as nutrient deficiencies, check thoroughly to diagnose the problem.
Stunted growth due to nutrient loss or cannabis root rot is another root aphid symptom on weed plants.
How to get rid of root aphids on weed plants
After identifying root aphids on cannabis, treat the problem immediately. Separate affected plants from the others, ensuring you don’t drop any soil to avoid spreading the infestation.
Resist the temptation to wait until flowering to salvage some buds. You risk infection and the destruction of all your crops. Depending on the damage severity, it may be necessary to dispose of it all and start over. Sanitize your containers and equipment.
Let’s look at how to kill root aphids using chemicals or organic treatments.
Many growers use the following organic root aphid control methods and only apply harsh chemicals as a last resort.
Neem oil is a natural option to eliminate root aphids on cannabis plants and deter other pests from attacking your crops. When spraying the soil and foliage, avoid getting the solution on the buds, as it affects the aroma and taste.
While there are harmful bugs, some, like midges and ladybugs, are excellent root aphid predators. Beneficial nematodes and the Beauveria bassiana fungus effectively seek and destroy bugs. The former attacks insects in the soil but doesn’t harm earthworms, humans, or pets.
Pyrethrum spray is made from dried white daisies and effectively repels root aphids. It’s a biodegradable and environmentally-friendly method to protect and treat your plants.
Pouring a thin layer of sand on the soil helps kill root aphids and prevents others from getting into the substrate. Combine this method with neem oil to maximize results.
Rosemary and lemongrass oils
Another natural way of treating root aphids in cannabis is using rosemary and lemongrass oils, which won’t harm your plants. These solutions kill existing insects and act as a deterrent against future infections.
Sometimes, it may be necessary to resort to using chemicals to solve an infestation problem.
Hydrogen peroxide is an effective root aphids treatment method as it kills pests in the soil. Use caution, as it’s harsh enough to harm your weed plant.
Imidacloprid is an insecticide that mimics nicotine, which is toxic to bugs. It helps control sucking insects, like the cannabis root aphid. Be careful, as it’s a strong chemical that can damage your crop.
How to prevent root aphids in weed plants
Knowing how to get rid of root aphids is essential, but prevention is even more crucial. Implement the following practices to safeguard your cannabis plants from infestation.
Keeping your growing space clean could prevent the propagation of root aphids in marijuana soil, especially if you cultivate indoor cannabis seeds.
Avoid contaminated soil
One of the ways the pests spread is through substrates that contain their eggs and colonies. Make your own soil and compost, or buy them from a trusted source.
Use sticky traps
Sticky traps are simple, safe, and effective in catching root aphids before they become a problem. Place them by your plants and check them regularly. When they’re full of insects, dispose of and replace the sticky traps until the infestation ends.
Grow seeds instead of clones
Clones could contain eggs or insects if the mother plant is infected. If you’re growing in nature, using outdoor weed seeds lowers your chances of a pest invasion.
Check and isolate new plants
Inspect new additions to your garden for root aphids in cannabis before bringing them into your grow room. Quarantine them for a couple of weeks to ensure there aren’t any pests.
Don’t overwater your crops, as excess moisture attracts root aphids. Stick your finger in the soil to check the moisture levels. If the top few inches are dry, it’s time to hydrate your plants.
Minimize the risk of root aphids in cannabis
Although you now know how to get rid of root aphids in weed plants, taking preventative steps saves you from dealing with an infestation. Remember to avoid overwatering and contaminated soil, isolate new plants, maintain cleanliness, and use sticky traps.
Browse our website for more cultivation tips, and check out our collection of premium marijuana seeds to lower the chances of a pest infestation.
About the Author: Kyle Kushman
Kyle Kushman is a legend in the cannabis community. He is the modern-day polymath of pot: cultivator, breeder, activist, writer, and educator. After winning no less than 13 Cannabis Cups, there’s nothing this guy doesn’t know about indoor growing - he’s been there, done it, and is still doing it to this day!