Plant Pests 101
How to prevent infestations
First and foremost, ensure your plants are healthy. The healthier they are the better they’ll be at handling insect attacks.
Also, make sure to inspect regularly. The quicker you spot a potential pest problem the better your chances are of getting rid of them.
Aphids are bad news. They eat leaves, cause plant mold and attract other insects like ants which can have a negative impact on your plants (more below).
These soft-bodied insects can appear in a variety of colors, so it’s common for growers to mistake them for different insects.
If your leaves turn yellow, dry out, or are covered in a sticky substance known as honeydew, chances are you have aphids.
A good way to spot aphids is to look under the leaves and stems where they typically like to hide.
Aphids, like a lot of insects, are adverse to the smell of garlic and onion, so for outdoor growers, plant some throughout your garden to potentially discourage them from coming around.
Also monitor your nitrogen levels and make sure you’re not over-fertilizing your garden as aphids are attracted to plants with high nitrogen levels.
Biological pest control options may help your plants. For instance, ladybugs are natural predators of aphids that should get rid of them for you.
Another option that may help is spraying the leaves with a soapy water mix.
They’re out for your roots and will rob you of your yields.
And to make matters worse, ants aren’t naturally drawn to plants but rather insects that are already present on your plant. So if you have them, chances are you already have issues with pests.
Ants are easy to spot. You’ll either see lines of them crawling up your plants, or find little anthills around your grow room.
Use the power of frogs! They may eat the ants along with a variety of other pests that could harm your grow.
If this doesn't work, try strategically placing ant traps in the corners of the grow room to lead the ants away from your plants.
Cinnamon may kill and repel the ants, and considering how cheap it is, is worth trying. Sprinkle some around your plants and in the corners of the room to discourage any intruding ants.
If that doesn't work Diatomaceous Earth is also a potential option. Simply spread it over the surface of your soil and it should dehydrate the ants.
For more extreme measure you could turn to pesticides, but they can have diminishing returns on later generations of pests, and are potentially dangerous if not handled properly.
RED SPIDER MITES
Red spider mites are little sap suckers that will kill your crop in no time.
White, yellow or black spots on the leaves are good indicators of spider mites. But beware, this could also be a sign of lack of nutrients.
If you’re unsure which it is, you can use a magnifying glass to inspect the leaves or hold a tray under a branch and shake it to see if mites fall off.
Spider mites love dry, humid conditions, so make sure your grow room is well ventilated and not too hot.
Ladybugs are a potential option here because they may eat the spider mites.
Another option that might work is watering down your plants with a hose or rubbing the branches with a wet cloth. This has been said to dislodge colonies of spider mites, but just be careful to not overwater your plants.
CRICKETS AND GRASSHOPPERS
Noisy and love to eat your leaves, these little guys can be quite the handful.
Look for bite marks on your plant leaves and the high pitch chirps they make.
A natural way that has been said to deter grasshoppers is filling your garden with less desirable plants like lilacs, moss roses, and jasmine.
One option that may yield results is Nosema Locustae which is a fungus that is believed to affect the digestive systems of grasshoppers, and cause them to become lethargic and eventually die.
Another approach that might work is spraying your plants with a garlic spray. Simply crush a few cloves of garlic into a mix of mineral oil and water, let it sit for the night, and then in the morning spray your plants with it.
Also, covering your plants in a fine coat of flour, letting it sit for two days and then rinsing it off may kill grasshoppers. The flour gums up their mouths making them unable to eat.
Caterpillars love to feed on leaves so it’s paramount you know how to spot for signs of them.
If you spot small teeth marks, black droppings, or small off white or yellow eggs on your leaves, then there’s a good chance you have caterpillars.
One thing that may work is to use insect barrier fabrics, garden walls, or trellis sections to discourage butterflies from going into your garden and laying caterpillar eggs.
If you do have caterpillars have no fear, they’re pretty easy to deal with.
You can remove them manually, or you could try a few spray options.
Two natural sprays that may work are a garlic spray (as mentioned above) or a molasses spray that is a mix of molasses (one tablespoon), dish soap (one teaspoon) and water (one liter). Just make sure to let your mixes sit for a while before applying them to your plants.