Insect plagues are quite common and can cause huge damage to plants. A cannabis aphid infestation is one of the most feared situation growers could face. Aphids appear on cannabis plants by spring-summer as that is their natural reproduction period and they feel comfortable in warm and dry climates. 

Aphids are very small insects of about 3 mm and there are approximately 3500 species, therefore you can find them in white, yellow, red, green, pink, brown, gray or black. Its anatomy is divided into three parts, head, abdomen and thorax.

They reproduce very quickly, thus can cause harm to the crop in a very short space of time. They can raise between 3 and 10 larvae per day, which can then live for up to 25 days. Some of them are born with wings, therefore, they can fly and infect other plants. Identifying them on time is crucial to prevent irreparable damage to marijuana plants.

Identifying aphids

cannabis aphid infestation

Detecting a cannabis aphid infestation can be initially difficult. They hide on the back of the leaves and green aphids camouflage very well in them. Once they start attacking the plant, the consequences are perfectly visible: leaves lose their green color, turning yellow and sticking to one another or rolling up. Sometimes they also start creasing, and they eventually dye.

To avoid getting to that point, you need to check your marijuana plants regularly. Aphids usually settle on the back of the leaves or around the inner stem. It’s easy to miss these signs during the first days of infestation. Aphids also secrete a dense, sticky and sweet substance known as honeydew that protects them from predators and impregnates the plant. 

Honeydew’s sweetness attracts other insects, such as bees or wasps, but ants are specially drawn to it by its delicious aroma. If you see ants wandering around your marijuana plants, you should suspect of an aphid infestation.

How do aphids affect marijuana plants

aphid on zoom

Aphids, and especially their offspring, feed on cannabis sap as nymphs, causing serious problems to plant growth. Sap has nutrients and carbs that feed cannabis plants. Its lack decreases the amount of buds grown and their quality. It also stresses the plant, which will stop feeding and growing normally to put all of its energy into fighting the plague.

Aphids also cause wounds to the leaves in order to reach the sap, which become a virus port of entry if the plant doesn’t repair them on time. On top of everything, aphids quite often secrete honeydew over the buds, not allowing them to breathe properly, which stops their growth abruptly and promotes fungi infestations.

How to prevent aphids

Aphids attack marijuana plants when the weather is warm and dry, therefore, growers cultivating under those conditions should monitor their plants regularly , checking on the leaves, stem and any possible color changes. This is by far the best way to prevent aphid damage, as you can take measures as soon as possible when an infestation takes place.

Poor plant care is another common cause of cannabis aphid infestation. Poor ventilation, lack of irrigation or excessive humidity increase the risk of getting infested by these insects. Nitrogen excess from fertilizers can also attract other plagues to marijuana plants, such as caterpillars or thrips. When growing cannabis indoors, it’s important to change your cloth before getting near the plants. Doing so will decrease the risk of infesting your marijuana plants with parasites that could have gotten stuck to your clothing.

cannabis aphid infestation

Yellow traps are very handy to detect aphid plagues because flying females get stuck to them. You can use pesticide-free products to protect your crop without damaging your marijuana plants, such as Neem oil or diatomaceous earth, which act as natural preventives and pesticides. Another option is to use Canna Cure, which creates a layer all over the plant that makes infestations difficult.

How to get rid of aphids in a marijuana plant

If aphids are already in the crop, all you can do is try to combat it. If the affected plants are still in the growth phase, you can use a chemical marijuana insecticide to get rid of the plague as fast as possible, although organic products should be the first option whenever possible.

Rapeseed oil is useful to asphyxiate aphid eggs and to prevent other plagues, another option is to spray the grow with organic pyrethrins. If the infestation took place indoors, you should clean the grow room with an automatic nebulizer.

On the other hand, if plants are already flowering, use only natural products. There is too high a risk of the plant absorbing toxic traces otherwise. Neem oil is organic and perfect to prevent and get rid of plagues. It actually kills insects when they come into contact with it.

Use potassium soap two or three days after applying any treatment in order to remove dead insects and honeydew leftovers.

ladybirds eating aphids

Another alternative is to use natural predators to kill these insects.

  • Parasitoids: Its larvae grow inside aphids until they end up dying.
  • Entomopathogenic fungi: A type of fungi that causes a lethal infection to some insects.
  • Lacewings: Insects that deposit their eggs near aphid colonies. These larvae are cannibals and as soon as they are born, they eat all the aphids around.
  • Ladybirds: Although they seem harmless, they love eating aphids and can get rid of an entire colony in no time.

Lastly, you can also opt for home remedies. Concoctions with tomato leaves, garlic extracts, tobacco leaves spray or nettle soup work very well. They are also efficient towards white flies or red spider mites, among others.

Overall, the best solution to avoid cannabis aphid infestations is prevention. If you need to use pesticides, avoid using toxic products that could remain on the buds.

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Erik Collado

With more than 10 years of background in the cannabis sector, his experience and knowledge are the base of GB The Green Brand’s success

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One reply on “Cannabis aphid infestation: Prevention is the key”

My plant is getting white spots on the leaves, what could be the cause of that?

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