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How to Identify Pests in Your Cannabis Grow

Experienced and novice cannabis growers alike understand that pests can ruin a crop, no matter how well watered, fed, or tended. One of the keys to making sure that your plants grow into healthy, robust, and consumable cannabis is to keep a close eye o…



Experienced and novice cannabis growers alike understand that pests can ruin a crop, no matter how well watered, fed, or tended. One of the keys to making sure that your plants grow into healthy, robust, and consumable cannabis is to keep a close eye on any pests that might infiltrate your grow, then take the appropriate steps to eradicate them without ruining your garden. Not only will it help keep the plants alive, thriving plants have more energy to produce trichomes and terpenes, making for better bud

Let’s take a look at some common pests found on cannabis plants, how to identify them, and lastly, get rid of them for good. With just a little maintenance and vigilance, your cannabis garden can be pest-free.


Common Pests Found on Cannabis Plants

According to the Smithsonian Institution, there are likely more unclassified insects in the world than classified, and the running guess is somewhere between 2 million and 30 million. Thus, this is by no means a definitive list of bugs that feed on cannabis but should serve as a good starting point for most pest problems. 


Before a caterpillar turns into a beautiful butterfly and flits away, it can be very hazardous to your cannabis plants. You know that book The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Turns out it’s a true story about how caterpillars eat everything in sight, including that tasty cannabis. Caterpillars can be very dangerous because they tend to go unnoticed, especially if they are a borer caterpillar, meaning they burrow into the plant and eat it from the inside out. But even caterpillars on the exterior will nosh away, potentially causing great damage to your plants. 

To figure out if caterpillars are ruining your plants, inspect the leaves weekly for holes from feeding, droppings on the leaves that look like tiny black specks, holes, and damage to the stems, and yellowing on upper leaves.

Natural enemies of caterpillars are wasps and praying mantises, and introducing those to the environment could make a difference. These options are typically easier for outdoor grows, but can also work indoors with some preparation. Other interventions include using a product like Bug Blaster spray or neem oil (which you can make at home).

Neem oil use has been controversial in some cannabis circles, as there is a belief among some that it may play a role in CHS (Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome), however, no definitive statements can be made without more research. The connection between neem oil and cannabis hyperemesis syndrome has yet to be fully explored or verified, but it’s still good to be aware and to be sure to closely follow usage directions.


Even house plants have the occasional plague of aphids. Tiny and red, yellow, black, pale, green, or brown, these bugs can be easy to miss because they cling to the underside of leaves, reproduce quickly, and drain your plant of nutrients. Outdoor grows tend to fare a little better in the battle against aphids since natural predators are present, but indoor plants can be decimated quickly by these teensy pests. Not only do they siphon nutrients away from the plant, they leave a sweet substance called “honeydew” that attracts other insects and turns the leaves black and moldy

Aphids and their honeydew on a plant

The honeydew left behind from aphids leads to further damages to the plant by attracting even more pests. photo credit

Because that honeydew attracts other pests, if you begin to notice a lot of ants or ladybugs coming around your plants, it’s a pretty good sign that you’re well into an aphid problem. Aphids can be hard to shake, but wasps and ladybugs are natural predators. Nonetheless, you should visually inspect the underside of plant leaves at least once a week. If introducing predators doesn’t ameliorate the problem, there are a couple of natural solutions to get rid of cannabis pests to try, like garlic or tomato leaf water. 

Spider Mites

Spider mites are like the supervillains of cannabis pests: uber reproductive, zombie-like in their ability to come back from what you thought was death, capable of spinning webs while eating everything in sight then completely disappearing before turning up again – they’re nearly impossible to spot and even harder to eradicate. Spotting spider mites is difficult because they are minuscule, but doing a daily inspection of both sides of your plant leaves could help to prevent a massive infestation.

Signs of spider mites begins with speckles, then a browning or yellowing of leaves, and premature leaf death.

If any parts of your plant are covered in fine webbing, that’s a sure sign you’re in a bad spot. The best way to avoid mites is to stay vigilant with your leaf inspections. If you do notice signs of mites, try introducing a fan into the environment. Strong air currents make it difficult for mites to breed. Spider mites also prefer temperatures of 60-80 degrees, so experimenting with temperature might also slow an infestation down. Since mites are likely to come back, consider a spray like Azamax or Spinosad to get rid of them for good (again, be sure to follow use directions carefully).

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats are just as hungry as caterpillars, but their gourmet meal is from the stem and roots of your plants and not the leaves. Beginning at the topsoil level, both larvae and adults will munch their way down into the root system, badly impact plant drainage, and compromise the structural stability of your plants. However, they’re nearly impossible to spot because they are dark in color, as is soil.

Fungus Gnats

Although fungus gnats are small, the damage they leave behind is mighty. photo credit

Seeing swarms of gnats near the base of your plant is one sign you’ve got a fungus gnat problem. Other symptoms are stems that weaken and simply fall over, adult plants that start to droop, wilt, spot, or yellow, or plants that stop growing altogether. 

Fungus gnats love moist conditions, so keeping the top layer of soil dry is a smart preventative measure. Some other hacks to try include placing a cloth on top of the soil to prevent female gnats from laying eggs or laying a sticky pad near the plant’s base to stick larvae. You could also mix some peroxide and water and spray it around the area of gnat infestation. A common-sense tactic for an indoor grow is to put screens on the windows and the doors closed to keep gnats out. 

Why Pests and Bugs Are Attracted to Cannabis

Something to keep in mind about pests, in general, is that they love a monoculture or a space dedicated to growing only one crop. Researchers from the University of California Davis theorize that if an insect makes itself at home in that one crop, it has a large food supply, creating an all-you-can-eat kind of scenario for the pest, making it that much harder to eradicate. As you likely don’t want to introduce other plants into a cannabis garden (for a number of reasons), this issue will always exist to some degree when dealing with weed. 

This is why, as mentioned, another option is to introduce other beneficial insects. Not only do they prey on harmful pests, but they are also an excellent chemical-free pest control option. The bugs already want to be there, you’re just bringing them to the dinner table. 


The Wrap Up

Identifying pests should be a regular ritual, just like watering and delivering nutrients to your plants. When you keep them pest-free, all that hard growing work will hopefully pay off in healthy and efficacious plants. Once you’ve harvested, you can move on to other fun challenges like doing a proper cure for your cannabis harvest, and how to store your cannabis stash

How do you deal with pests in your cannabis grow? Share your techniques in the comments!

Photo Credit: ilovegrowingmarijuana (license)

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Sticky Weed vs. Poorly Cured Marijuana Flower

If you’re anything like Snoop Dogg in the song “Forgot About Dre,” when it comes to weed you’re looking for “No stress, no seeds, no stems, no sticks!/Some of that real sticky-icky-icky/Ooh wee!” And if you are Snoop Dogg, you can probably have a joint…



If you’re anything like Snoop Dogg in the song “Forgot About Dre,” when it comes to weed you’re looking for “No stress, no seeds, no stems, no sticks!/Some of that real sticky-icky-icky/Ooh wee!” And if you are Snoop Dogg, you can probably have a joint filled with the best sticky weed on the planet placed into your palm with the snap of a finger (if it takes even that much effort.) For the 99.99% of pot smokers that aren’t Snoop Dogg, it’s still possible to smoke sticky cannabis flower on the regular. New growing techniques, increasing depths of generational wisdom, and specialized education are producing better flower in greater amounts than ever before in recorded pot-growing history.

But how do you know if the sticky weed you’re laying your money down on is the good stuff? While many cannabis consumers believe that all sticky marijuana is top-quality, it’s harder to elaborate about the fact that there are two reasons that a nug can end up sticky: either it’s dank, or it’s rushed. The fact is, a nug’s “stickiness” can be accredited to high resin and trichome content (AKA good flower), OR a bud can be overly sticky due to a rushed cure and high water content (AKA bad flower). How can you tell the difference and find the best flower at your local dispensary? Keep reading to find out.


The Difference between Good Sticky Weed and Improperly Cured Flower

A nice sticky nug can mean that the grower took the time and care to properly cure it. The stickiness comes from the nug being covered with resinous, gooey trichomes that are bursting with rich terpenes and cannabinoids. With a little care, this weed should stay good throughout its time with you.

Weed in a grinder

Stickiness can be a very good thing, as long as it was cultivated in the proper way.

However, a sticky nug can also mean that the weed was rushed out while still wet and contains a high level of water or moisture content. In this case, the stickiness only means a weaker, less potent nug that will lose water as it dries, leaving you with less to smoke overall and a hay-like flavoring to your cannabis once it’s fully dried.

The Importance of Properly Curing Marijuana Flower

Proper curing starts with snipping bud-covered branches off the plant at just the right time when their trichome production is at its sugary peak. Once removed from the plant, the nugs have to be dried, which further increases their potency. As long as the buds are kept at around 60-70 ℉ and at around 45-55% humidity while they’re hanging to dry, non-psychoactive cannabinoids within the plant will continue to transform into molecules of THCA (which will become THC once heated). This is what gives properly cured weed its extra punch. Keeping cannabis below 70 ℉ while it dries also prevents terpenes from drying up or degrading, locking them into the nug until it reaches your bowl, bong, or joint.

Once the nugs have dried enough for the flowers to feel a little crunchy and for their branches to snap instead of bend (anywhere from five to fifteen days,) it’s time to cure them.

For the final step in the curing process, the nugs are snipped off their branches and packed loosely into airtight jars. As they sit in a cool, dry place, moisture from deep inside the flower starts to spread back into the outer leaves. The jars are aired out, or “burped,” a couple of times a day to release moisture and allow oxygen in. After anywhere from two to eight weeks (or more, depending on the strain), the nugs are properly cured and ready to be consumed.   

Harvesting the bud when its trichomes have reached their maximum potency – as well as carefully adjusting the humidity as it cures over weeks or months – can lock in cannabis’ freshness and potency for months. The trichomes and terps are at their gooiest and most potent. That’s what makes that good sticky-icky that you’re looking for. As long as you keep your bud air tight and out of the light after buying it, it should maintain its potency until the end. Although tossing a humidity pack into your nug jar never hurts.


Spotting Poorly Cured Flower with High Water Content

As mentioned above, there’s another reason that weed can be sticky. Cannabis that was harvested too soon or packaged before a proper cure will feel sticky and moist, however, it will have underdeveloped terpenes and a lackluster “hay-like” flavor profile. Some shadier dispensaries will stock this sub-par, rushed weed on the shelves to cater to less informed cannabis consumers.

low quality weed

Poorly cured flower can lead to undesired stickiness and low potency. photo credit

Because this weed wasn’t dried and cured properly, the terpenes and cannabinoids haven’t had as much time to preserve in the plant. This makes for a weaker and less potent effect from the bud. Wet weed is also harder to grind up or break apart, which makes poor quality joints and blunts that don’t burn evenly. Because of the extra moisture, wet weed can also be a breeding ground for mildews, bacteria, and mold. Finally, wet weed is a waste of money. Wet weed loses water as it dries, leaving its owner with less and less to smoke every day.

How to Tell if Your Sticky Weed is Good or Bad

Luckily, there are a number of ways to tell whether that weed you’re purchasing is that sticky-icky, or just full of extra water and moisture content:

The Squeeze Test

Properly cured bud should be springy with a little give. This tells you that the moisture has spread evenly throughout the flower without saturating it. Wet weed will feel spongy between your fingers, with more squish than bounce. 

The Snap Test

Properly dried, sticky bud breaks up easily, without having to tear the leaves apart with your fingers. Similarly, if you rub them between your fingers, they should break apart.

Someone with weed between their fingers

By rubbing your bud between your fingers you should be able to determine if it has the correct texture. photo credit

If they ball up, they’re still wet. The stems of sticky weed should also snap like dry twigs. If you’ve got wet weed, those stems are so soaked that they’ll bend like a live branch.

The Smell Test

You know your bud is good if there’s an enticing aroma of fresh terpenes wafting out of that bag or jar. This is your signal that those terpenes have been allowed to develop and locked into the plant. Wet weed on the other hand will smell musty, damp, or have a faint hay scent that tells you the terpenes weren’t allowed to cure. Instead, bacteria or mildew have been maturing in their place. 

The Sticky Test

When you touch good weed, it should be like touching fresh sap or syrup. That sticky, sugary feeling is all the resin from those ripe trichomes melting onto your finger from the heat. Wet weed may feel sticky to the touch, but it won’t stick to your fingers. If your fingers feel more like you’ve touched a recently wiped tabletop than honey, your weed’s been rushed out.


Final Thoughts

Most dispensaries are committed to stocking only the best flower for their customers, so please don’t throw a suspicious eye at your noble and hardworking budtender as you sidle up to the counter. However, it is always worth knowing a little bit more about how to find the best weed. Besides helping you appreciate the craft of the grower, it’s just good practice. You may not be Snoop Dog, but you always want to be sure that when you’re buying sticky weed, it’s that sticky-icky-icky that makes you say “Ooh wee!”

How do you tell the difference between improperly cured weed and top-quality cannabis? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Jamaica Faces Marijuana Shortage As Farmers Struggle

Jamaica is running low on ganja. Heavy rains followed by an extended drought, an increase in local consumption and a drop in the number of marijuana farmers have caused a shortage in the island’s famed but largely illegal market that experts say is the…



Jamaica is running low on ganja. Heavy rains followed by an extended drought, an increase in local consumption and a drop in the number of marijuana farmers have caused a shortage in the island’s famed but largely illegal market that experts say is the worst they’ve seen. “It’s a cultural embarrassment,” said Triston Thompson, chief opportunity explorer for Tacaya, a consulting and brokerage firm for the country’s nascent legal cannabis industry. Jamaica, which foreigners have…

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How to Start Growing Marijuana Indoors

Safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic and a wave of new legalization have many people interested in growing their own cannabis from the comfort and security of their homes. There are very few activities quite like cultivating cannabis indoors, w…



Safety concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic and a wave of new legalization have many people interested in growing their own cannabis from the comfort and security of their homes. There are very few activities quite like cultivating cannabis indoors, which can make the process look daunting to the beginner grower. But never fear, PotGuide is here. 

The majority of the items needed for your cannabis grow can be purchased at any local gardening center (and many places even have a local hydroponics shop).  So let’s discuss your options, and what equipment you can expect to use.


Selecting Your Grow Space

Consider first how many plants you want to grow, and how big you’d like them to be. Account for the lights above, containers below, air circulation systems (either fans or more advanced setups), and space for you to move around all these things in your measurements. Try to avoid carpet or other areas difficult to sanitize.

A homemade grow room

Finding an adequate grow space is the first step to begin growing. photo credit

You’ll also want complete control of the lighting, so blackout any windows. Even leaks through cracked doors, seams, or shutters can disrupt your plant’s development. Airflow is another critical factor. Ideally, you’ll want a space where you can install exhaust fans, but at the very least you will need to be able to circulate the air in the grow space.

Choosing Lights For a Cannabis Grow

There are three main lighting options for indoor growing, each with its own unique properties.

High-Intensity Discharge (HID) Bulbs

Many professionals use high-intensity discharge (HID) bulbs, which can offer blue-white light for the vegetative stage, or more amber, autumnal light to initiate flowering. If you choose these bulbs, you can also expect to buy your own hoods or reflectors, and even a ballast to regulate power. Also, be advised that HID lights burn hot. This could be useful or not depending on the natural temperature of your room.

Fluorescent Bulbs

Fluorescent grow bulbs

Fluorescent lights may be the cheapest, but they will not yield the best grow. photo credit

Fluorescent lights are cheaper, but less energy efficient, and will likely reduce your grams harvested per watt consumed.

LED (Light Emitting Diode) Lights

Led grow lights

While LED lights might be a little more expensive, they are very efficient. photo credit

LEDs are energy efficient and create little heat. These used to be a bit more on the expensive end, but prices have settled in recent years, making them the standard option for many amateur growers.



Cannabis consumes primarily nitrogen in its vegetative state and potassium and phosphorus in the flowering stage. You will also want to feed it micronutrients which include copper, iron, calcium, and magnesium. These should be available at any gardening or grow store. 

Hydroponic systems generally use liquid nutrients stirred into the water, and soil growers can expect to stir powdered fertilizers into the dirt. Note that some liquid fertilizers may come in two bottles–parts A and B–to be administered as directed on the labels. In general, be ready to read a lot of labels carefully.

Air Conditioners and De/humidifiers (optional)

More meticulous growers, or growers with difficult environments, may want to invest in strict temperature and humidity control. 

Cannabis prefers temperatures between 70-85 degrees (F) during their “day,” and 60-70 in the dark.

Small humidifiers can be found at most department stores to soften up drier air. This factor ultimately matters less than your growing medium and the nutrients you feed it, but if you want to maximize yield, then get your room feeling like a summer in the swamp.


pH Meters

Cannabis thrives best in pH between 6 and 7 in soil, and between 5.5 and 6.5 in water. Straying too far beyond this range can result in nutrient burn–when the harsh chemicals physically harm the plant or nutrient lockout–when the roots become unable to properly absorb nutrients.

Growing Cannabis with Hydroponics

The most common medium for indoor growing is a deep water culture (DWC) hydroponic system, where the roots of the plant are suspended in water instead of earth. This option will require the most equipment, and therefore a higher investment upfront. It can also demand the most attention, but these efforts can be rewarded with a larger harvest than other options.


This will hold the water for your plants. You can suspend your plants in anything from a plastic storage bin to a five-gallon bucket. The important thing is to not let any light into the water. Even thin plastic will begin to collect algae and harmful molds. Remember to flush your reservoir once a week to keep it clean.

two cannabis plants being grown in a hydroponic system.

Hydroponics uses water as the primary medium, versus soil. photo credit

Drill holes into the lid or floating platform and insert net cups filled with anything from Rockwool to perlite to pebbles. This will support the root ball of your plant, with stalks and leaves above, roots and water below.

Air Pump / Air Stones

It seems antithetical to a hydroponic system, but your plants can drown in stagnant water. The solution is a simple air pump that rests outside the reservoir, connected by tubes to one or more air stones in the bottom of the reservoir. The pump will blow air through the hoses which is diffused through the porous stones into tiny bubbles that oxygenate your water.

Nutrient Pump / Water Pump (optional)

Larger scale growers may find manually adding nutrients to several tanks, and flushing those tanks, tedious and time-consuming. Or perhaps you just want to automate as much of your system as possible. In this case, nutrient and water pumps can be installed to do the work for you.


Professional operations use systems of ductwork with intake and exhaust fans, and you can find those pieces if you have the room and knowledge to install them, but many amateur growers get by with common area fans. 

Oscillating fan

An oscillating fan is ideal to help keep the air circulating in your grow. photo credit

The goal is to keep fresh air circulating and deter flying pests from settling down. Be sure to prevent windburn by either aiming your fans away from your plants or at least relocating the fans at regular intervals.

Timers and Switches

The more you can automate your system, the better you can regulate conditions, and the less you’ll have to work. Electronic thermometer switches can be installed between fans and their outlets and programmed to power on when the temperature climbs too high. Similarly, lights can (and often should) be outfitted with timers that will power the lights on and off at a schedule you select.


Growing Cannabis in Soil

Good old dirt is the most natural option for your cannabis and the most forgiving for novice growers. Soil systems require less maintenance and attention to detail (though the option to micromanage is still available if you prefer). When further automated with switches and timers, soil becomes the best choice for growers who want to “set it and forget it.”

Potting Soil

Begin each plant with fresh, clean potting soil found at any garden center, but be sure to avoid any soils that include time-release fertilizers. While these fertilizers are great for many flowers and vegetables, they won’t provide the cycle of nutrients your cannabis needs to truly thrive.


Almost anything can be used as a growing pot as long as it has adequate drainage. Cannabis roots are sensitive to saturation, so be sure water can easily drain through the bottom.

A Brief Word on Soilless Options

The principles of soil and hydroponic growing mediums can be combined to different extents with soilless systems that utilize Rockwool, perlite, or clay pebbles, among several others. Often this involves the plant suspended in a brick of Rockwool, for example, and bottom-fed with nutrient water that is absorbed into the medium like a sponge. These options allow more room for error than purely hydro systems but will lack the beneficial microbes and easy regulation of soil systems.

Final Notes on Indoor Marijuana Growing

Once you’ve chosen your growing method and collected your equipment, test the setup before you introduce your plants. You don’t want seeds sprouting when you find out your air pump is broken, or your temperature is difficult to maintain.

And finally, start small. Growing anything–especially cannabis–inevitably comes with a learning curve. You’re balancing an array of factors, and even veteran growers still lose plants to pests, disease, or plain old mistakes. Starting with one or two plants will allow you to learn at a minimal cost. All that’s left is to sprout some seeds!

Stay safe, stay healthy, and happy growing!

What have your first indoor grow experiences been like? Share in the comments!

Photo Credit: micripper (license)

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