Nobody wants to use pesticides on their pot plants. Check out this simple method of releasing and maintaining a healthy population of ladybugs that will kill and prevent spider mites in your indoor garden.
It doesn’t matter if you grow the cannabis for yourself or for sale to dispensaries, nobody feels right inhaling even a little vapor off some chemicals after they burn in a joint or get extracted into hash oil. Ladybugs are generalist predators, meaning they feed off many pests. However, the most common pest people introduce ladybugs to kill is the dreaded spider mite. They voraciously eat spider mites and work excellently at quelling their infestations.
Anyone who has already tried releasing ladybugs may have noticed they only work for a short period of time, and if they don’t manage to kill all the spider mites in the garden, the infestation will quickly return. The most common mistake is not giving ladybugs a home and a chance to reproduce and grow their population to make up for natural deaths in the garden.
To give ladybugs a fighting chance against the spider mites, start by finding a suitable home for them. Start by releasing your container of ladybugs into a larger container (around 1.5-2 cubic feet) that has a source of water, food and a small opening. Many ladybugs will promptly exit the container through the opening and do the job they were intended to do, kill spider mites. The remaining ladybugs chill in the container and live the good life: eating, drinking and having lots of ladybug babies. This will ensure a consistent population of ladybugs that should outlive the population of spider mites.
Take, for example, a propagation tray. Leave the humidity trap open and place inside a source of food, water and the open container you bought the ladybugs in. A great source of food that many recommend is raisins. Soak the raisins in water for an hour to make them easier to bite into and place five or 10 on the bottom of the tray. For a source of water, take a natural sea sponge soaked in filtered (preferably bottled) water (not dripping, but definitely wet) and place it in the tray as well. Release the ladybugs, open the small opening at the top and watch them get to work!
Monitor the moisture of the sponge and top it off with small amounts of water, but be careful not to let all the ladybugs go if you decide to remove the top of the propagation tray. Ideally, you should try and replenish water and raisins without even opening the top of the tray; you can get creative on how to accomplish this.
Ladybugs work for any stage of the cannabis grow cycle, but ideally you should only use them in a separate vegetative room and try to keep them out of the flowering room. If you know your plants are spider-mite-free by the time it’s time to flower, you shouldn’t run into any issues.
Releasing ladybugs into a room of flowering plants isn’t the worst, but it will mean that you’ll find some dead ladybugs remnants in the buds. If the weed is for yourself, your close friends and family, they shouldn’t care (it might even be a little funny). If the buds are for sale to a medical dispensary, you might want to think of another pest control strategy for your flowering plants. Again, if you treat vegetative plants with ladybugs prior to flowering, they should remain spider-mite-free thereafter.
Try to buy native ladybug species. Japanese ladybugs are an invasive species that will bite you and release a nasty substance (actually their blood) when spooked. Check out online guides to identify ladybugs on your own before you buy them.
Don’t miss our previous Grow Hack: Use Green Lacewings to Eat or Prevent Nasty Pests