Have you ever considered using insects in your cannabis garden? If not, then we think it’s about time you did!
Beneficial insects can help to keep pests under control and prevent them from ruining your harvest. They can also improve the quality of your soil, all without the need for harsh chemical pesticides and fertilizers. So, if you prefer to grow your marijuana organically, it’s great to have these little guys around.
But what are the best insects for growing cannabis? Let’s take a look.
Why Use Insects in Your Cannabis Garden?
Before we put the best insects for cannabis under the microscope, let’s discuss why you might use them in the first place.
As anyone who has ever grown marijuana will know, it requires a lot of time, effort, and patience. Therefore, you can imagine the frustration when pests destroy your plants at the last minute, ruining your hard work.
Unfortunately, though, there are plenty of common bugs that would like nothing more than to feast on your cannabis. Some of the most frequent offenders include:
- Spider mites
- Fungus gnats
[For a complete guide to identifying and removing these pests, check out our article How to Get Rid of Pests on Weed Plants]
One of the easiest ways to get rid of cannabis pests is by using commercial pesticides. However, this is not an option if you are cultivating your cannabis organically. It could also leave traces of chemicals on your buds, not only spoiling their flavor but also potentially damaging your health.
This is where beneficial insects come into the picture. They provide a safe and natural way to keep pests under control. Another potential advantage of certain species is improving soil quality. They could, therefore, reduce the need to add extra nutrients throughout your grow.
If all of this sounds good, you may be wondering which insects are the most beneficial for your cannabis garden. Here are our top 10.
The Best Insects for Your Cannabis Garden
When it comes to choosing the best insects for growing marijuana, there are several different options available:
Ladybugs are among the most easily recognizable insects around. As children, we loved them for their cute spots, but didn’t realize they are actually lethal predators!
Ladybugs, also known as Hippodamia convergens, love to prey on aphids, one of the most common garden pests. They can eat up to 60 aphids in just one day, or 5000 during their lifetime. They will also eat other critters, including whitefly, mites, and weevils.
If you are growing weed outdoors, try planting dill or fennel nearby as these plants tend to attract ladybugs. You can also purchase them online if you have an infestation and need a lot of ladybugs, fast.
They come in containers with food, but not water, so hydrate your soil before releasing the ladybugs. They do not fly after dark, so release them at dusk or during the night. A few bugs per square foot of cannabis should be enough.
2. Green Lacewings
Green lacewings (Chrysopela) are another predatory insect that enjoys gorging themselves on aphids. They are also helpful for controlling mealybugs.
It is lacewing larvae that are most useful, and you can purchase them in this form or as eggs. However, it is essential to release them immediately as they can become cannibalistic in the absence of other prey.
Ants will also eat lacewing eggs, so do not place them too close to the ground. Like ladybugs, dill and fennel naturally attract lacewings. They also like cilantro, sunflowers, and cosmos.
Note that lacewings have been known to bite humans, although it is quite rare.
3. Delphastus Catalinae
Delphastus catalinae is a small, brown-black beetle and a relative of the better-known ladybug. Their common name is ‘whitefly predator,’ and they can consume over 100 whitefly eggs each day. They will also eat adult whitefly if they are available.
Release one beetle per infested plant or 5–10 per 10 square feet. The best time to release Delphastus catalinae is early morning or dusk.
4. Praying Mantis
The praying mantis (Stagmomantis) is another insect that is famous for its predatory nature. Mantids will eat various pests, including aphids, flies, moths, and mosquitoes.
Although many people believe they are an endangered species, this is not the case. Therefore, if you find a mantis egg case in the wild, you can carefully transport it to your cannabis garden.
Otherwise, you can try attracting mantids by planting dill, fennel, or marigolds close to your cannabis plants. Egg cases are also available online, and you can buy these to hang in problem areas. However, these insects can be cannibalistic, so keep them a safe distance apart.
5. Insidious Flower Bug
The insidious flower bug (Orius insidiosus) is a good option for controlling pests such as thrips. Once they have devoured all the critters on the leaves, they will burrow into the flowers to find more.
These insects are only beneficial during the summer as they need light and heat to survive. However, artificial lighting should also be sufficient. You can apply these bugs directly to infested plants but take care as they could bite. However, this is pretty rare.
6. Rove Beetles
Rove beetles (Atheta coriaria) like to live in moist, dark conditions and are ideal soil-dwellers for your cannabis garden. They can deal with various pests, including thrips, shore flies, and fungus gnat larvae.
Rove beetles are a highly beneficial insect and provide excellent coverage for gardens. Once they have cleared a plant of pests, they will fly to the next one to find more.
7. Hypoaspis Miles
Hypoaspis miles are predatory soil mites. They are sometimes also known as Stratiolaelaps scimitus. They live in your cannabis grow medium and consume the larvae and pupae of thrips as well as fungus gnats.
Water the area well before releasing these creatures and again after a few hours for the best results.
Nematodes are microscopic, parasitic worms. There are many different species of nematode, and it is crucial to select the right one, as some are destructive. A particularly helpful species for marijuana gardens is Steinernema feltiae.
These creatures destroy their prey in a gruesome way. They lay their eggs inside the target organism and allow their larvae to feed on it. However, they are fantastic at controlling various species, including fungus gnats, thrips, and many other pests.
You can buy nematodes embedded on granules or flakes and introduce them into your growing medium. You can also store them in a refrigerator until you are ready to use them.
Unlike the other bugs on our list, earthworms (Lumbricus terrestris) do not help to control pests. However, they do have powerful benefits for your soil. They break down organic material, aerating the earth, and allowing for better water drainage.
They also produce nutrient-rich castings, which make a fantastic addition to organic fertilizers. Simply add a few earthworms to your soil or compost heap and let them work their magic.
Pillbugs (Oniscidea) are a common sight in gardens of all kinds. You can often find them scurrying around under containers or stones. Like earthworms, they feed on decaying matter and can be a great addition to compost heaps.
They feed on leaf litter, dead plants, and insects. Therefore, pillbugs are a great way to keep your cannabis garden tidy and debris-free.
The Best Insects to Benefit Your Cannabis Garden: Final Thoughts
Although cannabis plants have some natural resistance to pests, thanks to their high concentration of terpenes, they are not entirely immune. Therefore, it is necessary to frequently check your garden for signs of infestation and act fast if you find them.
However, there may be no need to resort to toxic pesticides. If you prefer to grow organically, these creepy crawlies are among the most helpful comrades you can find. Although some of the creatures on our list aren’t technically insects, they all have unique benefits for your cannabis garden. Why not give them a try?