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mealybugs on your weed plants

Mealybugs on Cannabis: How to Identify and Cure

Any green-fingered person will know that dealing with an infestation is standard. What happens when your crop is a source of income, and you discover mealybugs on your weed plants?

When dealing with these pests, it’s key to understand them and their weaknesses. You can deal with them efficiently if caught early. Treatments are inexpensive and don’t necessarily include chemicals.

Read on to discover more about mealybugs and how to eradicate them permanently.

What are mealybugs, and what do they look like?

Pseudococcidae or mealybugs are most common in warm and humid climates. Since cannabis thrives in this environment, it makes sense that they prefer these plants.   

These tiny pests don’t overlook marijuana grown in glasshouses from indoor weed seeds. As long as the conditions suit them, they’ll thrive there too. At the picture below, you can see how small they are. 

a mealy bug actual size
Here are mealybugs on a finger tip to see their actual size

Like most insects, these little white bugs on weed plants have an exoskeleton. They’re around 0.15 in (4 mm) in length, with the female resembling nymphs because they lack wings. They move around all the nooks and crannies of the plant and burrow. 

Adult mealybugs on a cannabis stalk
This is how an adult mealybug look

These ladies don’t crawl far, so if you have an infestation, it could mean that another plant is responsible. Be sure to check. A tiny bug takes around a month to become an adult from hatching.

An adult mealybug and juveniles
Adult mealybugs and juveniles producing honeydew

If your crop is outdoors, it’ll take slightly longer to mature during winter. A female can lay up to 10 eggs per day and up to 500 in her lifetime.

Once these white insects are on your leaves, they cover themselves in a waxy protective layer. They then feed on the plant’s sap when in a safe space. They have a symbiotic relationship with ants. 

Mealybugs excrete honeydew, a food source for ants, and protect the females by covering them.

ants and mealybugs
An ant eating honeydew made by mealybugs

The male species’ wings and gnat-like size distinguishes them from others. Their one job is to find females and procreate. Their lives are so singular that they don’t eat. An advantage to them is that you’ll spot them before the females.

In addition, Rhizoecus is a root-feeding member of the mealybug species. They can live a relatively long life without being seen, feasting on the roots. You can spot them if there are masses of the white waxy substance around the base of the plant.

Unless you catch these insects during the early stages, you’ll need to destroy the plant to prevent it from spreading.

The signs of mealybugs on weed plants

Have you noticed white fuzzy bugs on your weed plant? Or maybe the males flying around? Look closer, and you’ll see the female mealybugs burrowed in the crevices. 

Mealybugs on a cannabis leaf
Here is what these white tiny bugs look like on a cannabis plant

Some other signs to look out for are:

  • When there’s a sudden increase of ants on cannabis crops, mealybugs and ants go hand in hand. These pests excrete honeydew that attracts the army-like creatures, which then protect the white fuzzy creatures. Clever right?
  • The appearance of soft, white cotton-like clumps on the leaves or stem of the cannabis plant.
  • The presence of sticky honeydew on the leaves. It usually causes black sooty mold to grow but planting mold-resistant seeds may help prevent this.
  • Female mealybugs on cannabis plants can cause the leaves to turn yellow by consuming their juices. As a result, the foliage dies and drops off. 

How to get rid of mealybugs: 9 effective solutions

There are many effective ways to treat and get rid of the mealybugs in your weed nugs. 

a big mealybug on a leaf
You may notice a big mealybug on a plant

Combating these organisms depends on whether you’re for or against using chemicals on your weed. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Wash the plant: Gently use water to tease away the little white bugs from the weed plants. This action won’t cure the problem, but when combined with other methods will eradicate an infestation. 
  • Introduce predatory insects: This may sound counter-productive, but predators like ladybugs and lace wigs will happily rid your plants of these marijuana pests. 

Note that the former prefers warmer climates, and you may find them from May to September.

  • Diatomaceous earth (DE): This is a natural product that eliminates many different parasites, such as spider mites. A mixture of sedimentary rock punctures the insect’s exoskeleton and absorbs their bodily fluids. 

It may be a harsh option, but it won’t damage your plants. 

  • Insecticidal soap: This is a preferred method for growing an organic product. Use it with caution, as it can alter the taste of the cannabis if applied directly to the buds. 
  • Neem Oil:  You should also use this solution carefully and avoid the bud. Cover the entire plant in the evening or when it’s cloudy to allow the oil to be absorbed. It’s similar to bug blaster, which may work faster and is also best used at twilight.
  • Rubbing alcohol or nail varnish: When you discover the mealybugs on your weed plant, rub it with a cotton bud soaked in alcohol or nail varnish remover. 

Making direct contact with it kills it instantly. Mix it with water in a spray bottle for a more significant infestation.

  • Chemical pesticide: Best used in outdoor settings or well-ventilated areas.
  • Homemade sprays: The internet is full of recommendations for homemade pesticides. A popular one is to combine one small onion, one teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and a bulb of garlic into a paste. 

Leave to steep for an hour in some water. Strain it and add a tablespoon of dish soap to a spray bottle. Make sure it’s stored in the fridge and used within a week.

  • Simple pruning: Once you’ve identified these organisms, prune the cannabis leaves which they inhabit. It may prevent them from contaminating the other plants.    

Mealybug prevention

Is prevention better than cure? It sometimes is.

Once the infestation of mealybugs on your weed plants is under control, it’s essential to maintain this. Here’s a brief guide.

  • Clean the area: Make sure you’ve cleaned all the surfaces, every bit of the plant, and each piece of equipment you use.
  • Move the plant: If you’re having a tough time controlling the mealybugs on the cannabis shrub, move it. It may well be that a neighboring plant has a survivor or two that infects others in the crop.
  • Change the top of the soil: These white bugs can fall into the soil when treated and still survive. By changing the topsoil, you can remove them all. 
  • Wipe the leaves and stems: Do this regularly with a cloth or gently with water to wash away any critters.
  • Check new plants: Before adding new shrubs to the existing crop, ensure they’re free of these bugs.
  • Wash the seeds: Before planting any seeds, wash them thoroughly to keep things clean and sterile. Take this precaution whether you’re using indoor or outdoor weed seeds.

Wax on, Wax off

Following these tips will remove mealybugs from your cannabis plants and help prevent other beasties, which is a bonus.

The critical takeaway is to catch any parasites on your cannabis plants before it becomes an issue. Time and patience will serve you well if you end up with an infestation.  

Simple maintenance, even washing your buds with water, can hydrate your crop and assist with keeping it pest-free

Give it a try! 

AUTHORED BY: Douglas Kester Mr. Kester came to i49 with a wealth of experience. He’s worked in the cannabis industry for more than ten years. Unsurprisingly, he’s a good friend of the Bennett siblings. Their love for this green herb and all its intricacies has fostered a close friendship. They share the same vision at i49, bringing you all the information you need to reap the full benefits of marijuana. As a growing expert at i49, Mr. Kester finds it hard to choose a favorite strain. Instead, he regards each one as unique and full of potential. Douglas finds it rewarding to experiment with specific cultivars and cross-breed to discover a new one.

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