What do you do when you find white fluffy creepy crawlies on your marijuana foliage? Weed cultivation is an enjoyable journey, but sometimes there may be hiccups. Mealybugs on cannabis are a common issue, and crops with this infestation need immediate treatment.
The first step is identifying the problem. Once you know the symptoms, it’s easier to treat your plants. Several preventative measures are available if you’re concerned about a potential infestation.
Are you ready to find out more about mealybugs on marijuana? Join us for the full lowdown on these white fluffy bugs on marijuana plants.
What are mealybugs?
These cannabis pests are small, soft-bodied insects. They’re typically up to a quarter inch long and have an oval shape. Adult bugs have a whitish-gray, mealy wax coating.
After laying eggs, mealybugs on cannabis crops hatch within 1–3 weeks. Tiny yellow nymphs emerge and search your foliage for feeding sites. Within a month of hatching, these white powder bugs are ready to lay their own eggs.
The result is a higher population of mealybugs on your crops. Multiple generations occur within a year, with females laying 300–600 eggs each.
It takes roughly two weeks for all the eggs to be deposited, after which the female dies. Similarly to aphids, these pests damage your crops when they feed.
Signs and symptoms of a mealybug infestation on marijuana plants
Detecting mealybugs on a weed plant is straightforward. Look for fluffy white clumps that appear like tiny cotton balls. They mainly occur on your plants’ stems and in leaf crevices.
You might also see sticky honeydew with black sooty mold in some of your foliage. If an infestation is left untreated, the crops suffer and display symptoms such as:
- Wilting foliage
- Distorted growth
When inspecting for mealybugs on a marijuana plant, check the undersides of the leaves too. These pests are more common on outside crops, so minimize your risk by using pest-resistant outdoor seeds with hardier qualities.
How do mealybugs damage weed plants?
Aside from how unattractive egg sacs and wax clumps look, these bugs also cause other issues. They suck the sap from your plants, depriving them of nutrients and hindering growth.
Mealybugs on weed plants also render indirect damage. They excrete molasses that encourage the development of black sooty mold. This pathogen causes issues with photosynthesis.
The honeydew these insects excrete attracts ants. More pests show up, and the situation soon gets out of control.
How to get rid of mealybugs on cannabis plants
There are several ways to repel or kill mealybugs on marijuana. A natural solution is best, as you don’t want to harm your growing crops or affect the quality of the buds. Some methods include:
Neem oil is one of the most popular solutions for treating pests on weed plants. It’s an extract made from oil seed kernels.
One of the main reasons it helps with mealybugs on cannabis is because it contains azadirachtin. This compound has pesticide qualities that don’t negatively impact the weed plant anatomy.
Growers dilute neem oil with water before applying it to the foliage using a cloth or spray bottle. This solution is a simple way to get rid of mealybugs on marijuana plants naturally and isn’t toxic to animals or people.
Keep the application of this foliar spray for weed moderate. Neem oil can be pretty harsh on crops if used in excess.
This liquid is effective for getting rid of various garden pests. Rubbing alcohol melts the insects’ protective waxy coating and dries out their soft bodies. This option is ideal if your goal is to kill mealybugs on marijuana crops.
Blend the liquid with a few drops of dish soap and spritz your foliage liberally. Alternatively, remove them with a three-step process if you have a significant infestation:
- Dip a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and wipe off the leaves. Be sure to wear protective gloves.
- Blend a cup of 70% rubbing alcohol with a teaspoon of dish soap in a spray bottle and apply it to your plant.
- Wait five minutes after completing the previous step before rinsing your crops with clean water. There shouldn’t be many mealybugs left on your marijuana.
Picking them off by hand
One of the easiest ways to remove these creepy crawlies is by donning a pair of gloves and picking them off. This method is only viable during the early onset of an infestation.
The bugs typically don’t breed within the first 20 days, so it’s the ideal time to remove them by hand. Greenhouse growers who cultivate indoor seeds may detect an infestation quicker than outdoor cultivators, making this a suitable option.
Insecticidal soap is another option for removing mealybugs on weed plants. When the substance makes contact with insects, it disrupts the permeability of their cell membranes. The bugs then disintegrate.
Diatomaceous earth is a viable option derived from the sediment of fossilized algae. It tears the bugs and dehydrates them by absorbing the oils and fats from their exoskeleton cuticles.
Beneficial predatory insects
A natural technique many growers opt for is introducing predatory insects to deal with mealybugs on cannabis crops. Examples include:
- Green lacewings
- Brown lacewings
- Predaceous midges
- Minute pirate bugs
How to prevent mealybugs on weed plants
Factors like temperature, humidity levels, and ventilation all play a role in preventing these insects. Additional methods include:
- Keep an eye out for signs of mealybugs on weed plants.
- Keep the relative humidity below 65%.
- Provide your plants with sporadic applications of neem oil.
- Keep the grow area clean by removing any dead leaves and plant material.
No more mealybugs
Discovering white furry bugs on your crops doesn’t mean your cannabis plants are doomed. There are various ways to kill mealybugs on marijuana and prevent future infestations.
Now that you know about the potential threats to your weed, take precautionary measures by planting hardy strains. For the best quality seeds, browse the wide selection at Homegrown Cannabis Co.
About the author: Parker Curtis
Parker Curtis has around a decade of cannabis-growing experience, specialising in soil-less and hydro grows. He’s mastering outdoor, greenhouse, and indoor grows.