Friendly Predators For Cannabis Plants: What Are They And How To Use Them To Get Rid Of Pests?

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Added 15 December 2022

Outdoor cannabis gardens, or any garden for that matter, are rich ecosystems. Various other plants, microbial life, insects, birds, and other creatures thrive there in synergy. But sometimes, some organisms may affect this ecosystem.

For instance, insects like spider mites, aphids, thrips, etc. can quickly enter your cannabis garden and multiply in numbers. These harmful pests can feast on the delicate plant tissues, suck nutrients out of the branches, or eat the leaves off — all of which can affect your plant’s growth and yield.

Fortunately, metal cuts metal, poison neutralizes poison, and insects kill insects (mostly). And you can use other beneficial insects or friendly predators in cannabis gardens to deter and eliminate harmful pests. Read on to know more. 

How Do Friendly Predators Help Your Cannabis Plants?

How Do Friendly Predators Help Your Cannabis Plants?

Friendly predators or beneficial insects play a crucial role in an outdoor cannabis garden, primarily by protecting the plants from other harmful pests. This is the primary role of what we call friendly predators.

Cannabis gardens are a rich ecosystem with all kinds of microbial life, insects, birds, et al. But sometimes, the plants may attract pests or insects that may be dangerous for the growth and well-being of the garden.

For example, some insects can eat away the leaves, others can suck on the sap and steal essential nutrients from the plant, and a few can even halt the plant’s growth entirely. If you don’t treat a pest problem in your garden quickly, expect your plant to be unhealthy, grow slowly, and even die.

In this case, you can get friendly predators in your garden that prey on harmful pests. These insects work around the clock to hunt and consume harmful pests, including their eggs and larvae, no matter where they hide under the leaves or in the root network. 

For many growers, beneficial insects are the by-default option to deal with, eliminate, and prevent pest problems in their garden — that’s how effective friendly predators are for cannabis growers.

Other Benefits of Friendly Predators

Other Benefits of Friendly Predators

But apart from just protecting cannabis plants from harmful pests, beneficial insects play various other roles in the garden, too, such as the following:

1. They Prevent Harmful Pests

While we mentioned that these pests can hunt and prey on harmful pests, you can also use beneficial insects as a preventative measure against harmful pests. Since they patrol the garden constantly and deter other pests from coming in, and if they do, our friendly predators will prey on them before they become a problem in your garden.

2. They Nurture Companion Plants

If you are growing companion plants around your cannabis plant, like mint, dill, red clover, or lavender, then these beneficial insects can help the companion plants by keeping them safe, which will further invite other beneficial insects to the garden.

3. They Improve the Health of the Soil

Friendly predators make your cannabis garden a richer environment and ecosystem, which leads to improved soil health. For instance, nematodes — a species of friendly predators — excrete waste in the substrate that enriches the soil with various nutrients. 

At the same time, friendly predators reduce your reliance on chemical pesticides, which further keeps the soil and the environment free of harsh compounds and more natural. 

4. They Make Your Garden Eco-Friendly

Speaking of keeping things natural, you cannot find a more natural way to deal with harmful pests in your garden than inviting beneficial insects. Most species of beneficial insects cost pennies at local gardening stores and you don’t have to nurture them at all — just let them loose in your garden and they will take care of the rest.

You no longer need to rely on other compounds or pesticides to get rid of harmful pests. At the same time, you don’t have to worry about other compounds interfering with your cannabis buds’ flavor profile.

Friendly Predators vs Pesticides

Friendly predators vs pesticides

When growing cannabis, many growers use pesticides on their precious plants. In many cases, the pesticides are completely safe for the plants and don’t taint their flavors, especially when they are natural and organic.

However, in some cases, such pesticides, especially chemical-based ones, can significantly damage the plant and even affect the buds’ flavor profile. This is usually when the grower chooses low-quality pesticides or applies them at the wrong time or at the wrong location. 

So, to prevent pests on cannabis, it is better to use natural alternatives to pesticides like companion planting and friendly predators. Predators are cheap and easy to introduce to the garden and can eliminate harmful pests from your garden without causing any harm to your cannabis plants.

Plus, natural alternatives are completely eco-friendly. On the contrary, many pesticides are not. 

Do note that while friendly predators are terrific at deterring pests, sometimes, the pest problem may be too severe for beneficial insects and require quick action. In such cases, it is recommended to use natural pesticides like neem oil to eliminate the pests quickly.

Just avoid applying pesticides on your plant during the flowering stage as it can affect the buds’ aroma and flavor profile. And after the application, consider following up with beneficial insects. 

How to Introduce Friendly Predators in Your Cannabis Garden?

How to Introduce Friendly Predators in Your Cannabis Garden?

Introducing friendly predators in your cannabis garden is relatively straightforward. However, you should first understand what kind of pests you are dealing with or are likely to deal with, based on your local region.

At the same time, you must ensure that the problem your plant is facing is due to pests and not any other reason like a nutrient deficiency. Otherwise, you would be fixing a problem that does not exist while ignoring the one that does. 

Some of the most common pests you may encounter in your garden are aphids, fungus gnats, black, white, or green flies, thrips, spider mites, and caterpillars. Fortunately, all of these pests can be dealt with by friendly predators. 

Here are some of the ways you can introduce them in your cannabis garden.

1. Buy Them From Your Local Garden Center or Online

Visit your local gardening store and you will find a variety of options when it comes to friendly predators. Most of these insects are cheap to purchase and easy to introduce. 

In most cases, all you have to do is let them loose in your garden and they will colonize it in a couple of days. Still, it is recommended that you follow the instructions on the packaging as sometimes they may vary. 

While purchasing insects, you should also discuss your garden’s environment with the garden center representative so they can give you an option that suits your garden the best.

You can also buy friendly predators online, but remember to read the reviews and only order from reputable websites. Otherwise, while you will get friendly insects in the parcel, they may not be in the same quantity, or worse, not healthy enough to fight pests in your garden.

2. Grow Some Companion Plants

Another way to naturally introduce friendly predatory insects in your cannabis garden is to grow companion plants for your cannabis plants. 

Companion planting is a part of permaculture, which aims to create an ecosystem of plants, insects, and animals that help each other out. It helps form a symbiotic relationship among the various species that exist in your garden.

Here, many companion plants for cannabis can attract beneficial insects to the garden naturally. Some of the best companion plants to attract beneficial insects include the following:

  • Purple dead nettle — attracts bees
  • Dandelion — attracts ladybirds or ladybugs 
  • Dill — attracts ladybirds and parasitic wasps
  • Mint — attracts parasitic wasps 
  • Lavender — attracts parasitic wasps
  • Nasturtium — acts as a decoy for harmful pests

Other honorable mentions are marigold, yarrow, thyme, oregano, and fennel.

Additionally, companion planting can have various other benefits for your garden, such as the following:

  • Companion plants can act as a decoy to deter harmful pests
  • They can also keep your cannabis safe from diseases thanks to their antibacterial or antifungal properties
  • They enhance soil health by fixing various nutrients like nitrogen
  • Some companion plants produce aromatic oils that can boost the flavor profile of your cannabis buds 
  • Other companion plants, like sunflower, can help keep your cannabis plant hidden from onlookers

3. Boost the Terpene Profile of Your Cannabis Plants

In companion planting, one of the reasons why some plants attract beneficial insects is due to the aroma and color of the flowers. Fortunately, the same qualities exist in cannabis plants, too. 

Terpenes are aromatic compounds that grow on cannabis flowers, leaves, and stems, and they give cannabis strains their signature color, aroma, and flavor profiles. This aroma and color not only attract users but also beneficial insects in the form of pollinators.

You have evolution to thank for this ability. 

But the development of terpenes in cannabis depends on a variety of environmental factors. So, for most cannabis gardens, the terpene profile of the plants is just good enough to give cannabis the flavor and color, but you can further improve the terpene profile to attract friendly predators.

Follow these tips to boost terpenes in cannabis to attract beneficial insects.

  • Add Supplemental UV Lights

UVA and UVB lights can significantly boost the terpene profile of cannabis plants. For most gardens, cheap fluorescent tubes that produce UV light work just well, but if you don’t mind splurging on your garden, you can even invest in UV LED lights — these are expensive, though. 

UV lights not only improve the terpene profile but also deter various harmful pests by creating a slightly hostile environment for them. A win-win situation.

  • Choose High-Quality Strains

One of the factors that affect the production of terpenes in cannabis the most is genetics. The better the genetics, the more terpenes your plant will grow.

This is why it is crucial that you only grow strains that are of high quality and more likely to develop a rich terpene profile. The choice of strain also comes into play here since not all strains have a rich terpene profile.

  • Ensure Adequate Light Exposure for Your Plant

At the same time, you need to ensure your plant gets adequate light from the sun. If it does not, consider adding supplemental lights to meet your plant’s light demands. But getting light is not enough if the buds are shaded by other leaves. So, train them to be certain the buds get adequate light during the day.

  • Consider Low-Stress Training (LST)

A little stress is good for your plant — it forces the plant to activate its defense system and grow healthier and stronger. The result here is that thanks to the little stress, your plant will grow more terpenes as a defense mechanism.

Here, we recommend using low-stress training (LST) by using various training methods like tying down branches, pruning lower branches, removing excess fan leaves around the buds, etc.

If you choose low-stress training for your cannabis plant, you need to be careful and gentle. You only want to stress the plant out slightly, not so much that it affects its growth. 

There are various other ways to boost the terpene profile of your cannabis plant. 

Which Friendly Predators Should You Bring into Your Cannabis Garden?

Which Friendly Predators Should You Bring into Your Cannabis Garden?

There are thousands of beneficial insects that can prey on harmful pests, but the best insects for your garden depend on your local region and the common insects there.

However, for most pests around the world, there are natural predators that also exist nearly all over the world. Here are some of the best beneficial insects you should bring to your cannabis garden.

1. Ladybugs or Ladybirds

Ladybugs or ladybirds — call them what you will — are colorful little beetles belonging to the Coccinellidae group and are one of the easiest bugs to identify thanks to their red back and black dots. 

But apart from merely looking cute, ladybugs are one of the most effective friendly predators for gardens. They primarily prey on aphids, a common pest for cannabis growers, along with green flies, moths, beetles, thrips, etc. 

In fact, a single ladybug can prey on and eat up to 70 aphids a day! Imagine having 50 ladybugs in your garden. Plus, they tend to lay their eggs in aphid colonies, where they deal the most damage as ladybug larvae can consume up to 300 aphids a day. 

2. Green Lacewings

A delicate insect, the green lacewing, can be identified by its lace-like, transparent wings. And while these insects are completely safe for your plants, their larvae love feasting on other soft-bodied pests like whiteflies, thrips, aphids, leafhoppers, and spider mites. 

They also serve other benefits for your cannabis garden. Once they have consumed many pests, they build a cocoon and emerge from it as an adult that can fly and breed. And a single female lacewing can lay up to 200 eggs during its lifespan, usually laid in aphid colonies.

Green lacewings are cheap and easy to find in any local gardening store and are usually sold in bottles that contain thousands of eggs. All you have to do is apply them to the garden and wait for the eggs to hatch.  

3. Praying Mantis

The praying mantis resembles stick insects, which makes them look like leaves or branches, helping them camouflage themselves. And these insects can prey on other harmful pests 24/7. 

What’s special about the praying mantis is that they can wait for hours without moving before pouncing on their prey in order to defend their plants. And usually, they prey on aphids, whiteflies, and caterpillars. 

Many cannabis growers prefer introducing praying mantis because they are quite effective predators. You can do so too by simply releasing a few of them in your garden at different stages of your plant’s growth cycle. This will ensure there are always a few praying mantis preying pests (see what we did there?).

4. Assassin Bugs

Assassin bugs are small, flat insects with long snouts that fold under their bodies. And they have red eyes. Out of the many subspecies, the most common one you are likely to get is the brown-black variety with light flecks on the wing cases. 

Assassin bugs truly live up to the name as they prey on various insects like beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, etc. 

However, you can’t purchase them at your local gardening stores. You need to attract them. To do this, you can grow vegetable plants, orchards, or ornamental flowers, which attract these bugs.

Also, assassin bugs are sensitive to various chemical agents. So, avoid applying diflubenzuron or imidacloprid on your plants if you want to invite assassin bugs to your cannabis garden.

5. Predator Mites

Another effective beneficial insect you should consider is predator mites — small, difficult-to-spot insects that remove spider mites, which is one notorious pest for cannabis plants. Weirdly, predator mites and spider mites belong to the same genus, mites. 

Predator mites are often sold in bottles and should be introduced in the garden as soon as you spot spider mites. Wait for a couple of days and they will eradicate most of the spider mites from your garden.

But if you just want to prevent pests in your garden, you can grow mint as a companion plant as it attracts predator mites quite well.

Do note that predator mites don’t live a lot. You may have to re-introduce them in the garden every few weeks. 

6. Spiders

There’s a reason why people on Reddit refer to spiders as bros. Despite looking scary or creepy, spiders are actually one of the best insects to have around your garden and home. 

Spiders are completely harmless to cannabis plants, apart from the fact that they may weave some webs on your plants, and they slowly trap insects in their webs and consume them. Plus, spiders are territorial and keep other pests and spiders out of their home. 

But there’s a flip side. Spiders are slow killers and aren’t effective at eliminating pests that have already taken a hold of your garden. They are best used as a preventative measure against pests. 

Here, one species of spider that can be of the biggest benefit is Daddy Long Legs. These lanky spiders do not weave webs and kill pests like mites and aphids. 

7. Nematodes

Nematodes are one of the most popular friendly predators for cannabis gardeners around the world. And unlike other insects mentioned here, this friendly predator is microscopic. 

Typically, these creatures prey on ants, fungus gnats, slugs, and weevils. Unlike insects, nematodes act as parasites for these harmful pests and kill them from within, and they are effective killers. 

At most local gardening centers, you can buy nematodes in the form of solid blocks, which you have to mix in water and apply to the garden, especially at the base of the plants and under the rocks. 

8. Rove Beetles

Often black and red in color, rove beetles are small insects that love to feast on fungus gnats, root maggots, aphids, mites, slugs, etc. And typically, they take three weeks to grow from egg to adult, and a female rove beetle can lay up to 8 eggs a day. 

While rove beetles are effective predators, it is recommended to use them alongside other friendly predators because they only target a subset of insects that live under the soil and over. 

9. Frogs

Okay, we have been referring to friendly predators as insects, but there is one big exception — frogs. Small species of frogs can happily be in your garden and munch on pests all day long. So, you should consider introducing a few spiders to your garden, too. 

Frogs are effective predators of various pests like flies, caterpillars, slugs, beetles, cockroaches, and many more. And they use their tongues to catch these insects. 

There are a few downsides to frogs, though — some are extremely poisonous (especially the very colorful ones), some can be unsafe for pets, and some may carry bacteria or diseases. But the best species of frogs for cannabis gardens are leopard frogs, gray tree frogs, and American toads.

Summary: Friendly Predators For Cannabis Plants: What Are They And How To Use Them To Get Rid Of Pests?

Didn’t we tell you introducing friendly predators in your garden is easy? In fact, head into your garden and you may already find various friendly predators that are protecting your cannabis plants.

But don’t rely on luck. If you are growing cannabis outdoors, consider introducing friendly predators like ladybugs, praying mantis, spiders, nematodes, and frogs in your garden to prevent other harmful pests from calling your garden home.

And these are not the only friendly predators you can choose from. There are hundreds, or even thousands, of friendly predators that you can introduce to your cannabis garden. All you need to do is do a little research about the common insects in your local region and choose predators that prey on them. 


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