The 3 Most Common Cannabis Pests & How to Get Rid of Them (2023)

Growing cannabis both indoors, but especially outdoors, will carry the same challenges as other gardens, particularly pests. Just as the vegetable gardener must do battle with foes like stink bugs and squash beetles, so too must the cannabis grower be on the lookout for hungry bugs that will infest, or even destroy, your plants.

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The most organic form of pest control is companion planting — the practice of cultivating other, beneficial plants alongside your cannabis plant. Usually these include fragrant plants like basil and garlic, which repel many pests with their strong odor. However, when that doesn’t work, you’ll need to know where else to turn, and in a hurry.

In this article we review the most common cannabis pests, how to identify them, and how to prevent or get rid of them.

Table of Contents:

  1. Spider Mites
  2. Aphids
  3. Fungus Gnats
  4. Additional Pest Control Measures
  5. Frequently Asked Questions

(Video) THRIPS In Gardening - How To Identify,Prevent and Exterminate Them

Spider Mites

The 3 Most Common Cannabis Pests & How to Get Rid of Them (1)

Identifying Spider Mites

The most obvious clue you’ve got spider mites are the light, silky webs they spin on or between leaves, especially when mating. Spider mites generally live on the underside of plants where it is dry and shaded. They are very small, only about 1mm long, so it’s easy to miss them if you don’t look closely. They feed by puncturing plant cells to feast on the nutritious liquid inside, including chlorophyll, and will often leave behind yellow spots where the plant has been drained. These irregular spots will also be an alarming clue.

Problems Caused by Spider Mites

Plants need chlorophyll to grow, so an excessive amount of spider mites munching on chlorophyll can cause significant damage and eventually death to a cannabis plant. Not only that, but their webs are very sticky and difficult to remove, which could result in an impure harvest and a non-usable product.

How to Get Rid of/Prevent Spider Mites

When growing indoors, it’s best to avoid spider mites at all, if possible This can be done by ensuring completely sanitary conditions in your grow room including sanitary soil and supplies, air supply and of course sanitizing yourself before you get to work. Always wash hands and clothing (or wear a protective suit) before entering an indoor grow area and never allow pets access to the room.

If spider mites are already an issue, one option is to blast them off with a high-powered hose, though it’s best not to do this during the flowering stage. Neem oil is the next easiest solution. Neem oil is an organic bio-pesticide that has been deemed safe for use on vegetables and other flowering plants. Remember to repeat the cleaning process over the next few days to kill off both mites and eggs. To fight fire with fire, you could introduce a predatory mite like phytoseiulus mites, which prey on spider mites.


The 3 Most Common Cannabis Pests & How to Get Rid of Them (2)

(Video) How cannabis growers use natural pest control

Identifying Aphids

Aphids are tiny, yellow winged insects that also set up shop on the underside cannabis leaves. They reproduce quickly, with females giving live birth as often as 12 times per day, so infestations can happen quickly and should be addressed immediately. Because they consume nutrients within cannabis, the resulting leaves will appear yellow and wilted. Their feces is a glossy secretion that will present like shiny freckles on leaves.

Problems Caused by Aphids

Aphids not only consume the nutrients from cannabis plants, but their feces is a sugar-rich secretion that attracts ants. Some ants, called “dairying ants,” actually cultivate colonies of aphids to harvest this nutritious byproduct. So letting aphids hang around will attract even more pests. They have also been known to introduce viruses from near-by plants which may stunt growth or slow the production of flowers.

How to Get Rid of/Prevent Aphids

Though Mother Nature can help keep an aphid infestation in check with beneficial pests like ladybugs or parasitic wasps, you can help speed the process with the use of garlic or tomato leaf water. To make the solution, simply soak tomato leaves or garlic and mineral oil in water for 12 – 24 hours, strain the mixture then apply to one small area of the plant. If the leaves yellow after application, dilute the solution and try again.

Fungus Gnats

The 3 Most Common Cannabis Pests & How to Get Rid of Them (3)

(Video) How to Control Pests and Protect Your Cannabis Plant

Identifying Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats resemble tiny flies and are found in or flying around the soil where, true to their name, they feed on the fungus living in the grow medium. They are only 3-5mm in size and produce larvae with a dark head and transparent body. Females lay eggs within the first few inches of moist soil and larva can commonly be found in water run-off.

Problems Caused by Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats will leave your leaves alone, but by feeding on the fungus in the soil, they will reach your plant’s roots and leave damage there. Adult cannabis plants that are otherwise healthy may be strong enough to withstand a few fungus gnats, making them more of a nuisance than an emergency, but if the plant is young, or already struggling with other factors, fungus gnats can become a real problem. They may also introduce pythium, a disease quite harmful to sensitive seedlings.

How to Get Rid of/Prevent Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats need moist soil to reproduce, so the best way to prevent fungus gnat infestation is to keep the top layer of soil as dry as possible. Depending on your setup, this could be as simple as watering less frequently, or waiting for all the previous water to dry out before adding more (as opposed to watering a little everyday). Fly paper is another common solution, just remember to keep it low near the soil, rather than hanging it high among the leaves. Indoor grows can usually prevent fungus gnats by keeping a sanitary room and keeping windows shut or properly sealed.

Additional Pest Control Measures

Neem oil is a common, all-purpose organic pesticide that is suitable for cannabis and vegetables. While it can be toxic if ingested directly, especially by children, much of the horticultural community agrees it is not toxic when used on plants during the growing process. Neem oil has previously been suggested as the cause for Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, which induces abdominal pain and vomiting, but in recent years those claims have not held up to scrutiny.

If you are still wary of neem oil, insecticidal soaps are another option, though they will also harm beneficial insects.

The 3 Most Common Cannabis Pests & How to Get Rid of Them (4)

Neem oil is commonly used to help avoid pests when growing cannabis. photo credit

(Video) Marijuana Bug Problems | Everything You Need To Know | grow boss

Beneficial pests like ladybugs and predatory nematodes are another good organic solution. These bugs feast on other bugs, eggs, and larvae, and will at least slow the spread of harmful infestations, making them more manageable to eradicate, if not prevent them altogether.

After all of the time, money and effort that goes into growing cannabis grow, it would be a shame to watch the harvest wither and die at the hands of pesky garden pests. Stop critters from overtaking your pot plants with these simple tips for cannabis pest prevention.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of bugs get on cannabis plants?

Aphids, spider mites, and fungus gnats are the most common pests across indoor and outdoor grow ops. But outdoors, cannabis can also attract caterpillars, grasshoppers, stink bugs, and thrips, among others.

Combat these pests by using organic pesticides like neem oil or pesticidal soap, or by introducing predatory insects like ladybugs and mantises to fight on your behalf.

What bugs are attracted to hemp plants?

The bugs attracted to cannabis are often the same bugs attracted to any lush, green plants. Aphids, spider mites, and fungus gnats are among the most common, but a variety of garden pests like leaf miners, mealy bugs, slugs and snails will also want to eat from a healthy cannabis plant.

(Video) 4 most common pest

What’s the easiest way to get rid of pests in my cannabis plant?

The simplest solution is often a neem oil or pesticidal soap spray. If you don’t want to use any additional chemicals on your plant, a hard spray with a garden hose will blast several pests off your leaves, but be sure your plant is strong enough to withstand the pressure. Failing that, predatory pests can be introduced to feast on the eggs and larva of other bugs—sometimes even eating the bugs themselves.

Do you have advice about controlling pests in a marijuana grow? Share it with us below.


What are the most common pests in cannabis plants? ›

Marijuana pests:
  • Ants.
  • Birds.
  • Crickets and grasshoppers.
  • Gophers and moles.
  • Leaf miner.
  • Red spider mites.
  • Caterpillars.
  • Thrips.
May 23, 2019

How do I get rid of bugs in my cannabis soil? ›

But outdoors, cannabis can also attract caterpillars, grasshoppers, stink bugs, and thrips, among others. Combat these pests by using organic pesticides like neem oil or pesticidal soap, or by introducing predatory insects like ladybugs and mantises to fight on your behalf.

What is the best pesticide for cannabis? ›

often used in cannabis production, Neem oil is a natural pesticide found in the seeds of the neem tree, and it is often used in cannabis production. Azadirachtin is its main active ingredient.

What are 3 common plant pests? ›

10 most Common Plant Pests
  • Aphids. Aphids live only about a week, but a mature female can reproduce rapidly. ...
  • Leaf miners. Leaf miners are the larvae of various pests, including moths, flies, and beetles. ...
  • Scale. ...
  • Whiteflies. ...
  • Earwigs. ...
  • Cutworms. ...
  • Fungus gnats. ...
  • Mealybugs.

How do you get rid of thrips? ›

How to Get Rid of Thrips
  1. Spray: If an infestation is out of control, you'll have to spray insecticide. ...
  2. Introduce predators: Insects like minute pirate bugs, ladybugs, Trichogramma wasps and lacewings love to munch on thrips. ...
  3. Soaps: Natural insecticidal soaps work best on a moderate infestation.

How do I get rid of aphids during flowering? ›

You can often control aphids by wiping or spraying the leaves of the plant with a mild solution of water and a few drops of dish soap. Soapy water should be reapplied every 2-3 days for 2 weeks.

Can I spray neem oil on buds? ›

Neem oil is non-toxic and so is soap, but you should avoid spraying the buds of plants that are in flowering. Otherwise, this can affect the taste of your harvest.

What kills root aphids in cannabis? ›

Neem oil is often preferred on the leaves compared to non-organic treatments, and mixing in a little hydrogen peroxide to the plant's water is also a good strategy to help prevent root rot, which commonly accompanies aphid infestations since the aphids largely live in the plant's root zone.

Should I spray my cannabis? ›

It is recommended to avoid using foliar sprays during the flowering stage of your cannabis plant. Spraying flowers will increase their chance of developing a mold or mildew. If you need to spray during the flowering stage, it is important to keep the lights off/temperature down and to keep an eye on your flowers.

What is the strongest pesticide available? ›

In general, deltamethrin is considered one of the most powerful synthetic pyrethroid insecticides on the market. Plus, it seems to be slightly less toxic than bifenthrin as its uses are less restricted indoors.

What are 4 examples of pests? ›

There are four different types of pests – rodents, insects, birds and wildlife. Below we discuss a little more about each, what the signs of infestation are and how you can prevent them. Rats and mice are one of the more unpleasant infestations.

What kills plant pests? ›

Spraying a sturdy plant with water will remove many pests. Be sure to spray all plant surfaces. Repeated water sprays help control spider mites. Spraying the plant with insecticidal soap can often eliminate a pest infestation in its early stages.

What are the worst plant pests? ›

Top 10 insect pests to plants
  1. Cotton bollworm (Helicoverpa armigera) ...
  2. Tobacco whitefly (Bemisia tabaci) ...
  3. Two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae) ...
  4. Diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella) ...
  5. Taro caterpillar (Spodoptera litura) ...
  6. Red flour beetle (Tribolium castaneum) ...
  7. Green peach aphid (Myzus persicae)
Mar 20, 2019

Does Dawn get rid of thrips? ›

Small, soft-bodied insects are the best candidates for management with soapy water. Aphids, whiteflies, thrips, and mites are all good candidates for soapy water sprays.

What instantly kills thrips? ›

Soap kills thrips on contact, and will help to give you the upper hand. You can use a pre-mixed organic insecticidal soap, or make your own using 1 tsp mild liquid soap to 1 liter of water. Be sure to spray it directly on the infested leaves to kill the bugs.

Will thrips ruin my buds? ›

Will Thrips Ruin Cannabis? It's unlikely that thrips will do enough damage to kill cannabis plants. But they can do some serious harm, especially to younger plants. This starts when the eggs are laid, which are laid on plant leaves.

What mites are common on cannabis? ›

One species of mite that commonly feeds on cannabis is the two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae), which often is shortened to TSSM. This pest is found worldwide and is very common on a wide range of crops.

How do you know if you have pests on cannabis leaves? ›

Slugs and snails usually come out at night, leaving holes in leaves with scalloped edges from their individual bite marks. They also leave slime trails on leaves and on the ground. Spider mites are often caught from another cannabis grow room, and their bites leave small white speckles all over your leaves.

What are the little mites on my cannabis plant? ›

Spider mites are considered as a common cannabis pest. It can be very problematic to protect cannabis plants and get rid of spider mites due to their powerful capabilities. They are named as spider mites due to their property of creating a web around cannabis leaves and flowers.

What are the boring insects in cannabis? ›

The Eurasian hemp borer (Grapholita delineana) is the caterpillar (larval) stage of a small moth that tunnels into stems and buds of Cannabis. (It is also known as the Eurasian hemp moth and hemp borer.) This species is presently known only to occur east of the Rocky Mountains, and is widespread in eastern Colorado.

What are the first signs of mites on cannabis? ›

An early sign of spider mites is seeing bronze- or yellow-colored spots on the plant leaves. You may find that the underside of your plant leaves is discolored or that the leaves have small holes in them. Another early sign of spider mites is finding webbing on the leaves and stems of your plants.

How do I get rid of bud mites? ›

Spinosad products can be used directly to kill spider mites on contact, but can also be used when watering plants to systematically kill spider mites via the roots. Spinosad can also be effective at fighting caterpillars, thrips, and many other marijuana pests.

What kills plant mites? ›

Kill spider mites by combining a mixture of 1 cup of rubbing alcohol and 4 cups of water, then spray the solution on your plants. Cover the stems, flowers, and foliage thoroughly. Rubbing alcohol kills spider mites by dehydrating them.

What do mites look like on cannabis leaves? ›

Mites can be tan, green, or red and characteristically have two spots on their backs, making them easier to identify; their eggs are round and straightforward and usually only 0.1 millimeters in diameter. The eggs are often laid in groups on the undersides of leaves or in the webbing.

What do aphids on cannabis look like? ›

Adult cannabis aphids are between 1.8–2.7 mm long. They are normally wingless but a winged form appears in late summer. Early in the season, the aphids are nearly colourless to pale yellow, and as the days become shorter, they change to light green or brown with dark green stripes running the length of the body.

What do thrips look like? ›

Thrips appear to be tiny dark slivers on your plants. It is hard to see their bodies well without a magnifying glass, but up close, they look a bit like lobsters. Shake them onto a white background in order to see them well.

What is the best mite control for cannabis? ›

4 Best Products for Spider Mites on Marijuana Plants
  • Growers Trust Spider Mite Killer.
  • Garden Safe Brand Insecticidal Soap Insect Killer.
  • Bonide Neem Oil.
  • Safer Brand 3 in 1 Garden Spray Concentrate.

What do plant mites look like? ›

The first thing you're likely to notice is patterns of silvery dots or stippling on the leaves of your plant. Looking closer, you will see small, delicate webs in corners of stems or underneath leaves with what look like tiny white dots scattered throughout.

Can I use neem oil on cannabis? ›

Neem oil can act as both a preventative tactic and cure for a number of insect and fungus problems. It doesn't affect friendly insects and acts as a growth tonic that keeps marijuana vibrant. Neem oil is a must-have for the serious organic cannabis grower.


1. SPIDER MITES and How To Identify, Prevent and Exterminate them - Cannabis Growing
(Lex Blazer)
2. Spider Mites, Aphids & Fungus Gnats - Natural Cannabis Pest Control
(The Dopist)
3. Diagnosing & Treating Hemp Bugs, Mold, Mildew, & Environmental Issues
(Hemp In A Pot)
(Mr. Canucks Grow)
5. Most Common Pests In Cannabis: White Flies
(Fast Buds)
6. How to Control Bugs and Pests on Cannabis Organically
(Learn Organic Gardening at GrowingYourGreens)


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