Using ladybugs to protect your cannabis garden
If you spend any amount of time in the garden, then you know that managing pests can seem like an uphill battle at times—especially when those critters are reproducing faster than you can count!
If you’re like most people who grow cannabis, you probably prefer to eradicate any harmful, crop-destroying bugs in a natural and organic way. Who wants to smoke buds coated in a thick layer of chemical pesticides?
Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done—especially if you end up with spider mites, which are common in weed crops. Often times, by the time an infestation is even noticed, it might be too late for the milder, organic pesticides to be effective.
But fear not, there is a time-tested remedy that always gets the job done: ladybugs!
SPIDER MITES, POT’S NATURAL ENEMY
If you’re unfamiliar with the treacherous spider mite, it’s basically an extra small arachnid. Just like a regular spider, they have eight legs and spin webs, but they’re the size of a needlepoint.
These little critters absolutely love to munch on cannabis plants, and they start discreetly on the underside of the leaves, making them difficult to notice until it’s too late. It’s not unheard of for a large infestation to kill a plant in as little as 12 hours. They feed of the life source of your crops: chlorophyll.
As if that doesn’t sound bad enough already, just wait, it gets worse. Spider mites are ravenous and destructive, but they also produce enough offspring to possibly take over the earth.
On average, a female spider mite lays about one million eggs every month, which take only a few days to hatch. Yikes. There’s also the issue that many pesticides will kill adult insects, but not the eggs and larva—very similar to being overrun by fleas.
LADYBUGS TO THE RESCUE
Ladybugs, formally referred to as Coccinellidae, are small flying beetles that look adorable, but are complete savages when it comes to preying on common garden pests.
They’re especially fond of arachnids like spider mites, but they will also demolish a variety of insects including aphids, scales, mealybugs, leafhoppers, mites, and different types of soft-bodied insects. Ladybugs have been a garden staple since medieval times and are still used widely today.
Not only that, but they’re also considered a sign of good luck in many cultures. A small army of them could really do some damage to a pest infestation, considering each ladybug can eat up to 100 mites per day.
If you’re growing outdoors, ladybugs can easily become your best friend in the garden… but you’ll need to provide them with a suitable home.
HOW TO BUILD A LADYBUG HOUSE
Building a ladybug house is a very simple process that doesn’t require any expensive supplies. Most of the items can be found at your local grocery store. Make sure that your garden has been free from pesticides (both chemical and organic) for at least one month prior to adding the ladybug home to your garden.
- Small vented box with a fitted tray (like a cloning container)
- New, clean sponge (free of any soap or detergent)
- Reverse osmosis water
- Raisins, craisins, or other dried fruit (no citrus)
- Step 1: Remove the tray from your vented box.
- Step 2: Dampen the sponge with your reverse osmosis water. Add it to the tray.
- Step 3: Add a small handful of the dried fruit (about 15 pieces).
- Step 4: Put your ladybugs in the box, make sure it’s well-vented.
- Step 5: Carefully place the box in your garden, out of direct sunlight.
- Step 6: Make sure to refill the food and water tray daily or as needed.
Six simple steps and you’ve got yourself a hungry mob of carnivorous ladybugs, destroying all the annoying bugs that were turning your cannabis plants into their lunch. Bear in mind that ladybugs do fly, so the only way to really prevent them from leaving your garden is by covering it with very fine mesh lining.
They also can bite if provoked, but they’re not venomous and it’s extremely uncommon anyway. They’re actually quite social bugs that will gently crawl onto your fingers and hands if prompted.
So, there you have it. Have any of our readers used ladybugs in their own gardens and was it successful? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you!