If you are planting outdoors this summer then you will come across all kinds of pests that want you to share your cannabis plants with them. They will most likely invite themselves over, start munching away at your beloved plants and continue to do so until you take notice and stop them.
One of the most voracious of these pests is the caterpillar. Although caterpillars aren't the most horrific looking pests that love marijuana, they are still one of the most hated because they can do a whole lot of damage with their powerful jaws that munch away at your cannabis leaves, stems, and buds. It only takes about 5 to 10 caterpillars to destroy a plant.
One of the most common ways to recognize a caterpillar infestation is if chunks of leaves are missing and if you see small black spots on the leaves which are the caterpillar droppings. If people in the same geological area have complained of caterpillar infestation then you can begin checking your plants long before chunks of leaves are missing.
Butterflies in Garden
As nice and innocent as it may look to have butterflies in your garden, you must also realize that they could be laying their eggs on your marijuana plants. Butterflies will normally lay their eggs on the highest part of the plants. When you start looking for the eggs, don't forget to look underneath the leaves. Keep in mind that when the eggs hatch, your plant will be the first vital sustenance they get, so it is important to prevent the eggs from hatching on your plants in the first place.
When you begin to examine your leaves for eggs it may be quite difficult to see them, but if they are there they will look like small white or yellowish dots. You can remove the leaf with the eggs on it; be sure to avoid dropping eggs from a leaf onto your plant. A neem oil solution is also effective to kill the larvae if you don't want to remove the cannabis leaf.
You can also detect a caterpillar infestation by regularly checking the stems of your marijuana plant. Stem boring caterpillars like the Corn borer and Hemp borer damage the plant from the inside. They eat the marrow inside the stalk creating stem cankers that weaken the plant. If they eat enough of the stalk marrow then the plant can collapse. The holes in the stalk act like an open door for other pests to come in and further destroy your plant. If you see holes in the stem with brown tails around them then continue to inspect the plant for the caterpillar culprit.
Unfortunately, the stem boring caterpillars can be a difficult pest to get rid of. One of the only ways to get rid of these pests is to cut them out of the plant. If the plant does not revive itself then make a clean cut at the base of the trail to ensure no further damage gets done.
If you are struggling with your average caterpillar infestation then there are a variety of solutions to choose from. Parasitic wasps will sometimes take care of the problem or at least help. They often come on their own and lay eggs on the caterpillar's body and when they hatch the caterpillar becomes food for them. Another natural way to get rid of caterpillars is with praying mantises. You can buy an army of praying mantises online to devour the caterpillars and save your crop.
If you prefer to use a spray, then neem oil will do wonders for caterpillar control. You can even make your own spray by pouring 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap into a gallon of warm water. Add one ounce of neem oil and then mix well. Spray this onto the tops and bases of the plants once the sun has gone down. Avoid overdoing it, but make sure to cover the areas. This mix only lasts for 4-8 hours so don't reuse the same mix the next time you spray your plants. You will need to make a new batch. Usually, you only need to spray your plants once a week until the caterpillars are gone.
Caterpillars absolutely love cannabis plants so if you see them on your plants then you shouldn't wait to do something about it. Their mighty little jaws will wreak havoc on your crop if you don't prevent it. Thankfully they can easily be stopped with a bit of neem oil or natural predators.