There are few things as disheartening as a pest insect problem in an otherwise flourishing cannabis garden. Pest insects can wreak havoc on a cannabis crop and quickly reduce the yield or, in extreme cases, cause an utter catastrophe. A stroll down the aisles at any hydroponic retailer will reveal a plethora of chemical pesticides that can be used to treat various pest insects. However, taking a holistic approach to pest control is a much more beneficial strategy than chemical warfare. The problem with treating a pathogen or pest insect with a chemical pesticide is that, in most cases, the grower is simply treating the symptoms and not dealing with the source of the problem.
Perhaps the best way for cannabis growers to maintain healthy plants and incorporate a holistic approach to pest control is by implementing an integrated pest management (also known as IPM) program. There is one company in particular that fully supports IPM practices and offers a full line of beneficial insects along with organic and natural insecticides traps, and disease control products. That company is ARBICO Organics (Arizona Biological Control, Inc.) and it has been serving both livestock and agricultural sectors with natural and organic pest control solutions since 1979.
Integrated pest management, or IPM, is the practice of focusing on the long-term prevention of pests and/or pest damage by managing the ecosystem. Integrated pest management is a comprehensive approach to dealing with pests over the long-term. Simply put, IPM is a holistic approach to pest control. The principle of IPM is to look at all of the contributing factors along with all of the possible remedies and then make a decision of when and how to take action.
One of the most important control practices of an integrated pest management program is biological control. Biological control includes the use of beneficial plants, beneficial microorganisms and beneficial insects. ARBICO Organics has a wide variety of beneficial control products, including a selection of the most effective predatory and beneficial insects available to cannabis horticulturists. A few of the most popular predatory bugs used by cannabis gardeners are mite predators, green lacewings, beneficial nematodes and ladybugs.
Mite predators are specialized insects that target mite infestations. Mite predators can be used to combat spider mites, russet mites and cyclamen/broad mites. The following are the various species of predatory mites offered by ARBICO Organics:
A specialized mite predator that is ideal for the pre-emergent control of mite infestations.
A beneficial mite species used in warmer growing conditions for mite control.
Mite predators that are used to control widespread spider mite infestations.
Mite predators that are best-suited for use in hot and dry cropping environments. This predator is particularly effective at battling spider mites on orchard crops.
These mite predators are excellent at controlling spider mites in hot greenhouses with low humidity.
These mite predators can survive in low spider mite densities by feeding on pollen and other small arthropods. Cannabis growers like neoseiulus californicus predatory mites because they can withstand a wide range of temperatures and can tolerate lower humidity.
Mite predators that are superb as a general predator for many different mite pests. Neoseiulus fallacis also has a high survival rate even when pest densities are low.
These mite predators are great for treating two-spotted spider mites in dense field crops and/or humid greenhouses.
Both the adult and larval stages of this predatory insect will consume spider mites and are entirely compatible with other mite predators.
A tiny gall midge that is used to control widespread spider mite infestations.
Green lacewings (chrysoperla rufilabris) are vicious predatory insects that can help battle a wide variety of soft-bodied insects. Each green lacewing larva can eat 200 or more pests or pest eggs per week during its developmental period (usually 2-3 weeks long). Each adult female green lacewing can deposit more than 200 eggs; making green lacewings one of the easiest beneficial bugs to establish in a cannabis garden. Once the green lacewing eggs hatch, a new batch of pest eating larvae will emerge and the life cycle will continue.
ARBICO Organics offers green lacewings in adult, larva, and egg form. This makes introducing a green lacewing army into any cannabis garden fast and easy. The green lacewing larvae have been shown to be an effective control for aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, leafhopper nymphs, caterpillar eggs, scales, thrips and whiteflies.
Beneficial nematodes can be used anywhere developing pest insects exist, including backyards, flower and/or vegetable gardens, lawns, fruit and/or nut trees, greenhouses, row crops, and pastures. On staff IPM specialists at ARBICO Organics can help a gardener select the best nematodes or combination of nematodes to use in a particular situation. ARBICO Organics offers three unique beneficial nematode varieties:
These are used to control grubs, root aphids, weevils, Japanese beetle larva (grubs), ticks and queen ants.
Used to control fungus gnats, ticks, thrips, leaf miners, onion maggots, root aphids and root maggots.
Used to control fleas, caterpillars, cutworms, army worms, sod webworms, fly larvae, and worker soldier ants.
The ladybug is the ultimate opportunist carnivorous insect. These tough beetles will literally eat any insect, larvae, or egg it can fit in its tiny jaws. Ladybugs will feed on aphids, chinch bugs, asparagus beetle larvae, alfalfa weevils, bean thrips, Colorado potato beetle larvae, whiteflies and mites. Their relatively low cost makes ladybugs one of the most cost effective beneficial insect solutions for cannabis growers. Aside from their low price tag, another virtue of ladybugs is that both the adults and larvae are active hunters.
Growers often wait until it is too late to apply a control method. Once the pest damage or plant infection is visible, it could be too late to effectively control the problem. Continual combing and careful daily inspections of all plants in the garden are musts for early detection. The use of traps to identify potential pest insects as they enter the garden area will help keep a cannabis grower one step ahead of potential pest problems.
As mentioned earlier, many cannabis growers treat the symptoms, but never find or correct the root of the problem. Implementing an IPM program and taking the holistic approach increases the grower’s chances of maintaining healthy plants. When a problem does occur, it is of the utmost importance to positively identify the pest insect or problem before starting a treatment program. Growers commonly misidentify the pest insect they wish to treat. Incorrect identification leads to unnecessary treatments that waste valuable time and resources, does nothing to rectify the actual problem and in some cases can actually hinder the plant’s health even more. Even when the pest insect is identified correctly, a more diverse approach usually works best.
Many cannabis growers unknowingly create “super pests” by treating the garden with one single product. As a pest insect adapts, it builds a resistance to the particular treatment. In the long run, this only makes eradication more difficult. Many growers do not think about the timing of the pest insect treatments. When implementing a treatment program, timing is everything. For example, it is not wise to spray an insecticide right after releasing an army of beneficial insects. This would be counterproductive for both treating the problem and for the grower’s return on investment.
The on staff IPM specialists at ARBICO Organics are always ready to listen to the specific needs of a cannabis grower and recommend solutions tailored to his or her particular situation. The bio-control specialists are happy to answer questions and provide a free consultation, including recommendations based on the specific needs of the garden. For cannabis growers, implementing an IPM program can mean the difference between continued success or ongoing frustrations.
When in doubt, consult with a professional at ARBICO Organics. Their top-notch customer service is sure to impress as much as their wide variety of biological, natural, and organic treatment options. Cannabis growers can rest assured that ARBICO Organics will only provide them with the very best in predatory insects and IPM programs. ARBICO Organics also guarantees live delivery of all beneficial and predatory insects. Helping cannabis growers develop a holistic approach to maintaining a healthy and vibrant garden is just one of the admirable attributes of ARBICO Organics. If you already have or are thinking of setting up a cannabis garden, let the folks at ARBICO Organics guide you in developing an IPM program. After all, a solid IPM program is a key component to a cannabis garden’s ongoing success.