For any aspiring cannabis grower, there are several potential problems to navigate—determining proper sunlight, irrigating properly, and the like. But one problem is especially tricky: spider mites appearing on buds—the most valuable part of the plant.
While spider mites can be pesky pests, you aren’t alone in experiencing them, and they aren’t unstoppable. In this article, we’ll explain why spider mites appear on buds around harvest time and what you should do about them.
What Is a Spider Mite?
As the name suggests, a spider mite is a very small arachnid belonging to the mite family. That said, “spider mite” is also a blanket term—over 1200 different subtypes of spider mites are out there!
That said, the most common spider mite is the red spider mite (also called the two-spotted spider mite), a native of the Eurasian continent that is now a worldwide menace.
Just as it has a global distribution, the red spider mite also has a cosmopolitan diet. The pest infests plants, including peppers, tomatoes, corn, strawberries, roses, and of course, cannabis.
You can tell that a spider mite has been on any of these plants by its distinctive mark: when it eats, it sucks nutrients from a plant cell-by-cell, leaving small yellow, orange, or white pockmarks on green leaves.
The added issue with spider mites is their incredible growth rate: a single spider mite can lay over 1400 eggs yearly, and individuals can begin breeding once they’re five days old.
Why Are There Spider Mites on My Buds?
Simple answer: spider mites are on your buds because the spider mites are hungry. Spider mites like to snack on pretty much everything they can, including cannabis, which is full of delicious nutrients.
If you’re noticing spider mites on the buds around harvest time, though, the odds are that the spider mites aren’t new. They can begin infesting a plant in the early stages of its growth, and since they’re so small, they frequently escape detection.
For that reason, it can be challenging to know if spider mites are a problem until it’s far, far too late—though there are surefire signs.
How Do I Tell if There Are Spider Mites on My Plant?
Even before cannabis starts to bud, it can exhibit signs of spider mite infestation. A simple way to tell is that webs are stringing over your plants—since spider mites are web-spinning arachnids, they love to produce silk to travel across plants.
At earlier stages in cannabis growth, a spider mite infestation is evident in a plant growing slower than expected, buds growing slowly or are malformed, and leaves turning brown on their undersides.
How Do I Deal With Spider Mites on My Buds?
If you want to tackle spider mites, you have plenty of options at your disposal. The key is to ensure that you protect your plant as much as possible—though, of course, that’s not always an option.
If you feel industrious, you can remove and kill spider mites by hand, which entails pruning the leaves and stalks that are affected. The process is tedious, and you must be incredibly watchful for ongoing infestation, but it is relatively effective.
You can also treat mites with the same method you’d use to clean dirty dishes: soap and water. In general, water is a good way to wash away spider mites, but if you want an added punch, create a solution with a light amount of soap to kill the insects without harming the cannabis plant.
If you’re an insect lover, you can also add in one of spider mites’ natural predators—the ladybug. The lovely bug doesn’t feast on cannabis, but it’s excellent at removing spider mites.
Although spider mites are a challenge, cannabis growers everywhere have contemplated their menace for ages—you have plenty of wisdom at your disposal when dealing with them.