Pot worms in soil

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for Root Maggots

Many species of the root maggot exist in home gardens throughout North America. Particularly destructive to early season plantings, they feed underground on succulent roots and attack a large variety of vegetable crops including radish, cabbage, carrot, turnip and onions. Heavily infested roots are often riddles with tunnels and rotted. Affected plants lack vigor, may be stunted or yellowed and often wilt during the heat of the day. In some cases, maggots may even chew through taproots, causing plants to die.


Adults (1/5 inch long) are dark gray flies that look like the common housefly, only smaller. They lay their eggs in the soil at the base of host plants and are very good at detecting newly planted seed beds. Maggots (1/3 – 1/4 inch long) are small, yellowish white, legless larvae with tapered or pointed heads and a rear end that is blunt.

Note: Tunneling and feeding by this pest creates entry points for rot diseases such as black rot.

Life Cycle

Adults emerge in the spring or early summer from overwintering pupal cocoons in the soil. They soon mate and females begin depositing 50-200 small, white eggs in plant stems right at the soil line or in cracks in the soil near plant stems. Eggs hatch in a few days and the larvae burrow down into the soil to feed on small roots, root hairs, and germinating seeds. After feeding for 1-3 weeks, maggots begin to pupate in plant roots or the surrounding soil. There are several generations per year.

How to Control

  1. Female flies are attracted for egg laying by the moisture emitted from newly planted seed rows. Cover seedbeds with floating row cover immediately after seeds are sown to prevent problems. Be sure the cover extends at least 6 inches on each side of the seed rows.
  2. Apply small amounts of diatomaceous earth around seedling stems to deter egg laying by adults.
  3. Yellow Sticky Traps placed around vegetable crops will capture many adult flies before they can mate and lay eggs.
  4. Heavy paper collars or other sturdy material may be placed around the base of transplants to prevent egg laying around stems.
  5. Applying beneficial nematodes in seed furrows or as a top dressing around plants can be effective in getting rid of the larvae.
  6. Using a pyrethrin drench is also an effective option, but should only be considered as a last resort.
  7. Rototill under crop debris immediately after harvest to destroy overwintering sites.

Pests and Diseases forum: small worms(?) in indoor palm tree soil

Welcome Cinberg!! I don’t like small white worms in any of my plants that I bring inside. More often than naught, they came from the soil when you had your Palm outside. If your palm plant soil is part sawdust or sitting on sawdust, sawdust will attract worms, millipeds and centipeds in particular, no question! I have never had to try this but you may want to think about it. Ordinarily, small worms in the soil, flood them out with heavy watering, but a Palm, not so certain that would be the best solution. You could try a weak solution of bleach in your water for your Palm, but here is what I would do, having just repotted all my “tropicals”! I would bang the pot a few times on different sides to loosen the soil (providing it is not 10′ high (LOL), I would get rid of that soil outside somewhere to fill garden beds, whatever, and I would carefully wash all the soil out of the roots of that Palm, all of it, even with a garden hose if necessary. First off, you will be able to see if your Palm is root bound? Secondly, you will be able to get rid of any or many metals and oxidates that may have overaccumulated in the soil over time, and finally, I would repot it in newly purchased potting soil, and of course a good watering when first doing so. Let’s recap: Ruled out “root bound” scenario, ruled out “accumulation of metals and oxides over the years”, ruled out worm infestation – hey, the Mayo Clinic couldn’t help you any further! LOL. Give it a try!! Cheers!

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How to Get Rid of Worms in Potted Plants?

There can be some small white worms in your indoor potted plants. They generally target the plant soil and look like the larvae of the fungus gnat. They like to flourish in moist soil, shady area, and produce maggot larvae. This maggot larva is very harmful to the roots.
So, whenever you are buying a new plant, never forget to check the plant well. Even when you treat these worms, there are chances of the return of the gnats. And every time you can follow these following steps to get rid of the worms in your potted plants:

  • Scoop out the top 1 inch of soil from the pot using a hand spade. Dump this soil in a plastic bag or paper and tie it very well. Throw it away from your garden to garbage bins.
  • Now, apply an insecticide that are recommended for your indoor plants that are infected by the fungus gnats.
  • Just follow the package instructions.
  • Now replace the top 1 inch of pot soil with new potting soil.

There will be perhaps no more worms disturbing your potted plants. But for that, you also need to follow some basic guidelines mentioned below:

  • Allow the soil to slightly dry up between your watering sessions.
  • Keep the plant pot in a well-ventilated place at your home.
  • Let your plant enjoy some sunshine too!

Ever noticed a band around some of your composting worms? This band shows that the worm is mature enough to reproduce. How do composting worms make babies? How long does it to make worm babies? And how can you encourage the worms to breed?

The red worm, Eisenia fetida, is a champion composting worm. Nestled in the confines of a composting bin, red worms happily eat your kitchen scraps. In return for these tasty morsels, they excrete valuable compost. The resulting “black gold” is the best compost for your garden and indoor plants.

It Takes Two Red Worms to Tango

On the one hand, red worms have both male and female characteristics. Botanists call them “hermaphrodites”. On the other hand, they need a partner to make babies. They cannot reproduce all on their own. Having DNA from two parents helps keep the offspring strong.

When the conditions are right, two red worms line up against each other, facing opposite directions. Their bands, called clitellum, secrete a mucus film that envelops both worms. Each worm receives sperm, which they store for later.

After several hours, the worms go their separate ways.

The clitellum then secretes albumin, a chemical that makes the clitellum start to harden. The worm starts to wriggle out of the clitellum. On the way, the worm deposits its own eggs and its partner’s sperm in the clitellum. The resulting lemon-shaped sac is called a cocoon. Sperm from one mating session can fertilize several cocoons.

Waiting for the Eggs to Hatch

Cocoons have a hard shell that protects the eggs and developing worm babies. About the size of a grain of rice, the cocoons start out a luminescent white color. As they mature, they gradually darken, turning yellow and then brown. When they become a reddish color, they are ready to hatch.

The cocoon can bide its time until conditions are right for hatching. Under ideal conditions, the worms will hatch in about three weeks. The eggs remain viable for up to one year. They can survive the cold winter and wait to hatch in the spring. Cocoons are most likely to hatch in warmer weather.

A cocoon starts with up to 10 eggs, but only 2 to 6 worms will eventually emerge. Hatchlings are tiny, less than an inch long. They soon grow into full-sized worms, depending on environmental conditions. For example, sufficient food, comfortable temperatures, and proper moisture levels help the little ones grow faster. In approximately 2 to 3 months, the worm babies should be mature enough to start reproducing.

How You Can Help

Worms will initiate mating without your direct help. However, you can set the stage by making the worm bin comfy. Starting with the bin, choose a tray-based composting bin, make a composting bin, or buy one at a store. A good bin has drainage, air holes, and a lid. Trays will make care and harvesting easier.

Prepare the bedding, then add Red Composting Worm Mix from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm. We offer complete instructions on setting up your bin for maximum worm comfort.

Feed organic kitchen and garden scraps to the worms. Make sure you feed them only foods that are good for them — see our list of best worm foods. Avoid over-feeding the worms, or your bin might develop problems. See our Worm Bin Troubleshooting Guide if something does not smell right!

Under the pleasant conditions you create, the worms will settle in and make new worm babies. The worm population replenishes itself in a well-managed worm bin.

Need composting worms or supplies? Check out our online store.

Small White Worms In My Worm Bin

“HELP! There are hundreds of small white worms in my worm bin. They’re not maturing and I think they might be killing my red wigglers.”

This is the thought that I had earlier this week when I pulled back the worm bedding in one of my bins and found a tonne of small white worms. I’d been noticing these worms increasing in number in my bin for several weeks, but wrote them off as baby red wigglers. Then as the weeks went by and none of them seemed to be maturing, I started to get a little concerned. So I decided to do a little research…

As it turns out, these white worms are not baby red wigglers. Nor are they going to cause any harm. However, even though the white worms themselves are harmless, the environment that fosters them will more than likely kill my red wigglers. Yikes!

Before I explain any further, take a look at the video I shot and see if you’ve ever noticed these little guys in your own worm bin.

What Are These Mysterious Worms?

These white worms are better known as pot worms or potworms. Their Latin name is enchytraeids. They are generally harmless and enjoy environments rich in organic matter. They thrive in conditions that are low in pH and high in moisture. Which is exactly the conditions I was fostering in this particular worm bin. As I said in the video, I had just added bokashi compost to this bin, which is naturally quite acidic.

Apparently, these worms have been labelled as “pot worms” because they were originally found in potted plants. I read some information that said some gardeners feel their potted plants aren’t normal without the presence of pot worms. Neat, eh?

Pot worms feed on the bacteria and fungi, as well as the organic matter, in your bin. So that means that there must be specific sets of microbes that grow at these lower levels of pH that help to feed the pot worm populations. So how do you reduce their numbers in your bin?

Change Your Worm Bin Environment

As I said above, these white worms thrive in low pH conditions that are typically high in moisture. Unfortunately, these same conditions are not ideal for your normal composting worm, the red wiggler. So what should you do?

You have a couple options. The first is to do nothing. Continue to treat your worms as you have been doing and see what happens. Since the pot worms are harmless to your red wigglers, you may find that they’re capable of cohabiting quite well together. It really depends on just how moist and how low your bin’s pH levels are.

Personally, I am going go with option two, which is to add more dry bedding and withhold food for a week or two. This will help to reduce some of the excess moisture in the bin. Also, I am going to add some calcium carbonate to my bin in an attempt to raise the pH level.

You can find calcium carbonate at your local farmer’s cooperative store and certain garden centers. Another name for calcium carbonate is marking chalk (the powder they use on sports fields to make the lines) or high calcium lime.

Another method of raising the pH is to add a small amount of wood ash to some water and mist the bin’s contents. The problem with this is that you may be effectively raising the pH but you’re also adding more moisture, which is somewhat counterproductive.

You can also grind up eggs shells (a good source of calcium carbonate) into a fine powder and mix them with your bin’s contents.

One final method to reducing the population of these small white worms in your bin, which I’ll have to try, is to soak a piece of bread in milk and put it in your bin. The pot worms are attracted to this and will quickly call it home. Once the piece of bread is saturated with pot worms, you can easily take it out and compost it outdoors or bury it in your garden soil.

Overall, this was quite the learning experience this past week. At the very least, I hope you found this article entertaining and can use it if your worm bin ever needs some troubleshooting. As always, consider me your composting guinea pig, experimenting with all things compost so you don’t have to.

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Have you ever found these small white worms in your worm bin? If so, what did you do about them?

Where Do Pot Worms Come From – Compost Garden Soil Has Worms

If you’ve added materials that change the pH balance in your compost pile or if rain showers have made it much wetter than usual, you might notice a large collection of white, small, thread-like worms working their way through the heap. These are not baby red wigglers as you might think, but rather a different breed of worm known as the pot worm. Let’s learn more about pot worms in compost.

What are Pot Worms?

If you’re wondering what are pot worms, they’re simply another organism that eats waste and gives aeration to the soil or compost around it. White worms in compost aren’t directly a danger to anything in your bin, but they do thrive on conditions that the red wigglers don’t like.

If your compost pile is completely infested with pot worms and you want to lower their population, you’ll have to change the conditions of the compost itself. Finding pot worms in compost means the other beneficial worms aren’t doing as well as they should, so changing the conditions of the compost itself can change the worm population.

Where Do Pot Worms Come From?

All healthy garden soil has worms, but most gardeners are only familiar with the common red wiggler worm. So where do pot worms come from? They were there all along, but only a tiny fraction of what you see during an infestation. Once the conditions for pot worms gets hospitable, they multiply in alarming amounts. They won’t directly harm any other worms in the compost, but what is comfortable for a pot worm is not as good for common wiggler worms.

Dry out the compost heap by turning the pile frequently, skipping watering for a week or so and covering it with a tarp when rain threatens. Even the moistest compost will begin to dry out after a few days of this treatment.

Change the pH balance of the compost by adding some lime or phosphorus to the pile. Sprinkle wood ashes in among the compost materials, add some powdered lime (like that made for lining baseball fields) or crush up eggshells into a fine powder and sprinkle them all through the compost. The pot worm population should decline immediately.

If you’re looking for a temporary fix until the other conditions are met, soak a piece of stale bread in some milk and lay it on the compost pile. The worms will pile onto the bread, which can then be removed and discarded.

What are those ‘worms’ in my firewood?

You may have encountered white, segmented “worms” or grubs when chopping firewood and wondered what they were. Common questions include, did they kill my tree? And are they a danger to other trees? The quick answers are no, and no.

The “worms” are the larvae of wood-boring beetles. With few exceptions, they infest trees that are already dead or dying from other causes and are not threats to healthy trees. Two major families of wood-boring beetles in conifers are:

  • Flatheaded borers
  • Roundheaded or longhorned borers

Flatheaded borer adults tend to be torpedo-shaped with bright metallic coloring, such as the golden buprestid (pictured). Roundheaded borers typically have antennae that are longer than their bodies (hence their other name, longhorned borer).

Adult longhorned borers may be up to 2 inches in length; flatheaded borers are generally smaller. Some wood borer larvae can reach large sizes. The larvae of the ponderous borer, for example, reaches nearly 3 inches in length. It’s chomping action and large mandibles are said to have inspired the design of the modern chainsaw.

Looking at the wood and bark

If you look at a tree that has recently died and pull off a piece of bark, you will often see a winding gallery pattern on the inside of the bark and on the surface of the wood. These galleries are created by wood-boring beetles or bark beetles.

Borer galleries are mostly unbranched while bark beetle galleries are branched, with the main galleries wider than the branches.

Flatheaded borer galleries are packed with fine, rounded material whereas roundheaded borer galleries contain more loosely packed, coarser-textured material.

Borers can cause a lot of damage by tunneling into solid wood.

Often, wood borers will invade a tree that has been killed by bark beetles, and the wood borer galleries will obscure or “overwrite” the bark beetle galleries. Note that wood borers generally invade the wood itself while bark beetles do not.

Wood borer larvae are food for hungry woodpeckers. They also help degrade and recycle wood back into soil by turning it from solid wood into sawdust.

Assessing the threat

From a wood products standpoint, borers can cause a lot of damage by tunneling into solid wood. Borer larvae can live for many years, and the adults sometimes emerge from framing lumber or other material inside houses, much to the alarm of the people living there. But these beetles are not a threat to standing trees or seasoned lumber.

Some flatheaded borers have the ability to detect smoke from long distances. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and where there’s fire, there are dead trees, which is dinner for the beetles. According to a decades-old story, certain species of flatheaded borer would swarm attendees at football games in Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, occasionally landing on people and biting exposed skin. The insects apparently were attracted to the haze of smoke hanging over the stadium from the thousands of cigarettes smoked on game day.

Don’t move firewood; wood borer larvae can “hitch a ride” in pieces.

Wood-boring beetles are large and often spectacular in appearance but, as noted above, generally aren’t threats to healthy trees. This is in contrast to the mostly small and inconspicuous bark beetles. The one exception to this rule is the flatheaded fir borer, which is the insect responsible for much of the Douglas-fir mortality in southwest Oregon. The flatheaded fir borer aggressively attacks Douglas-firs on harsh, low-elevation sites, especially in drought years.

To reduce the chances that beetles will invade your firewood, harvest and process green material (such as standing madrone) during the fall and winter, when the beetles are not in flight.

Don’t move firewood. Since unseen wood borer larvae can “hitch a ride” in pieces of firewood only to emerge later as adults, there is major concern about transporting firewood across state lines or even long distances within states. Damaging pests such as the emerald ash borer and the Asian longhorned beetle have been spread throughout the eastern US via firewood. Thankfully, they have not been found in Oregon, but the potential is certainly there. Here’s another reason to “buy local”.

QUESTION: Last weekend I was working under a large pine tree and noticed something falling on my head. I discovered they were tiny worms about one-eighth to three-sixteenths of an inch long and yellowish white in color. Any thoughts? — James Auter.

ANSWER: There’s a large outbreak now of pine catkin sawfly larvae (Xyela) in the New Orleans area. Reports are widespread on the north shore where pine trees are common, but I’ve also had reports from Metairie.

This is the first outbreak of this insect I’ve seen in more than 30 years. The adults emerge from the soil in February and lay eggs on the male cone buds of pine trees.

Pine trees produce male cones, which shed pollen, and female cones, which develop into pine cones. The eggs hatch and the pine catkin sawfly larvae feed on the male cones (or catkin) as they grow out. When they finish feeding, they drop to the ground to pupate. That’s why you see large numbers falling out of infested trees now.

The good news is they do not damage the pine trees. The only effect their feeding will have is to reduce the amount of pollen the pine trees shed, and no one’s going to sneeze about that.


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“Worms” in Your Berries? There’s a New Pest in Town

“Worms” in Your Berries? There’s a New Pest in Town
Q. I know that you’re a fellow raspberry fan and hope you can help me. I was picking loads of berries this past fall, but unfortunately, they all had little white worms in them. I’m wondering which insect is the culprit and what I must do to try and save the next harvest. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
—Roswitha (“Ros-veta”) in Emmaus, PA
A. This question hit really close to home, as her garden is less than ten miles away from mine. Luckily, I have not yet had any worms in my berries. But I think about it all the time—especially after I learned that local organic farming friends of mine chose to pull out and destroy all their canes because of the same problem— the Spotted Wing Drosophila (“dra-sof-a-la”); a tiny new insect from Asia.
Most people would call this nasty pest a ‘fruit fly’, but its technically a “vinegar fly”. More important than mere characterizations, the females have a hypodermic-like appendage they use to shoot their eggs into the interior of fruits that are just beginning to ripen, especially blueberries, strawberries and raspberries.
Eventually, little ‘worms’ hatch out. They eat some of the fruit, but they live so deep inside that they’re generally not discovered until the fruits are harvested and ready to go on top of your Cheerios, which, yes is beyond gross. The only thing that might be worse is if you’re a small-scale market farmer and the ‘worms’ start crawling out while potential customers are examining your wares.
Now, we’re calling them “worms”—which is part of the common name for many pest caterpillars. But these are the immature form of flies; so they’re actually maggo….
…You know; let’s just call them ‘larvae’ and keep what audience we have left. Now: According to the Michigan State University Extension , the tiny but distinctively-colored flies first showed up in California in 2008, have become widespread, and are seriously hard to control because of the way the female literally shoots her eggs into the center of ripening fruit.
The first thing that home gardeners (heck; and professionals) should do is set up traps. You’ll find lots of detail in from Michigan:. Essentially you hang a yellow sticky trap inside a big cup that has tiny holes punched into the lid and liquid bait in the bottom. The bait is a mixture of water, yeast and sugar that ferments and attracts the flies. Checking the traps lets you know when the flies have arrived in your garden.
Now, at least in Michigan, these pests typically show up fairly late in the season, so it’s crucial to not follow the common advice to mow ‘double bearing’ raspberry canes back to the ground in the fall. There’s a good chance that the early harvest the following Spring from the ‘second year canes’ you saved might be unaffected. Conversely, some growers might want to deliberately sacrifice the traditionally smaller fall crop so as to not give the pests a breeding ground. (Read through our past raspberry articles for details on the two distinctly different types of this crop.)
Now: what about strawberries and blueberries?
As their name more than implies, ‘June bearing’ strawberries are harvested early in the season, before the flies typically appear—making them a much better choice for this battle than ‘everbearing’ varieties, which ripen up continually throughout the season. Gardeners in regions under attack by the nasty little fly may also wish to choose early-ripening blueberry varieties, and/or types that have the thickest skins, as these pests prefer thin-skinned fruits.
No matter what, keep the yeasty bait in your traps fresh; and if you start to catch the pests, pick ripe fruits promptly and immediately refrigerate the harvest. Cold slows the development of the eggs—and freezing might kill them. In addition, get rid of any visibly-damaged fruit by putting it in sealed plastic bags and letting it sit out in the sun.
Are there any safe sprays for this pest?
There are approved insecticides for both chemical and organic production, but they’re all toxic to beneficial insects and the bees that are essential for pollination, which makes this kind of control tricky. Raspberries, for instance, always have new flowers opening up. But some blueberries have more of ‘a flush of flowers followed by a lot of fruit’, so I’d certainly consider spraying them with one of the spinosads—an organic insecticide that’s approved for use on this pest and otherwise harmless—as long as all the flowers are gone. (Maybe pull off the last few flowers to be able to spray ‘bee safely’ and save the ripening berries.)
Screening is technically possible, but you’d need a very tight mesh row cover with ridiculously small openings; these flies are VERY small. And it would have to be sealed tight, like in a well-managed hoop house. And you’d have to introduce honeybees or bumblebees for pollination.
So then: What about just trying to intercept them all with a huge number of yeast traps?
Michigan actually suggests this for small gardens; and its worth a try. Start with just a few traps early in the season, and when you verify that you’re capturing Spotted Wing Drosophila (ID details are in the linked articles), pile on. Because the actual traps are home-made by you and yeast and sugar are cheap, the biggest expense is your time.
And be sure your harvest goes right into the fridge, so any already-laid eggs don’t hatch.
“Gross! We’d be eating fly eggs!”
Yeah. You’d be shocked at how much of your food contains a little rogue protein. They won’t harm you and they won’t breed inside you.
Note: Although we use the Michigan State Extension as our primary resource for this article (they are seriously on top of this pest), the topic has been covered by many State Extension services (although maybe not as thoroughly as Michigan.) It might make sense for you to also read articles generated by the states closest to you—especially for issues of timing and emergence.

Caterpillars on Marijuana Plants

Carterpillar of bright colours

During the outdoor marijuana growing season there are many insects that feed on our marijuana plants.

In this case we will discuss one of the more voracious predators for cannabis plants, which leaves them totally shattered and useless for their consumption, caterpillars.

What is a caterpillar?

Caterpillars are the larvae of insects of the Lepidoptera family, more known after their metamorphosis into beautiful butterflies. There are many species of butterflies that can be found all over the world so there will also be many types of different caterpillars, with different colours and sizes but with clear characteristics in common, such as a segmented body, their 6 legs or the hooks of their false legs.

Before finding a caterpillar in our marijuana plants, we’ll see how the butterflies lay down on the buds or leafs, usually in the highest parts where the biggest and unattainable buds are located. Butterflies generally deposit their eggs prior to the arrival of the winter season, so these eggs will hatch when ambient temperatures are the appropriate, needing the heat of the end of summer, which coincides with the arrival of winter in about two months. It is very feasible that butterflies deposit their eggs and these don’t hatch until appropriate conditions prevail.

Where is the caterpillar?

Caterpillars have a long body divided in segments of different colours, generally adapted to camouflage themselves among the vegetation, avoiding this way to be eaten by birds or other natural predators of these insects. They move using their 6 main legs along with 10 false legs distributed throughout their body, which can be located in different parts according to the type of Caterpillar.

These voracious predators of green matter don?t breathe through their mouth but through a few small holes that are scattered throughout their, called spiracles. These holes lead to an internal network of interconnected tubes or trachea which provide the oxygen directly to the cells, being a very effective and spectacular respiratory system.

Their senses, such as sight, smell … aren?t highly developed; their sight is very reduced and limited, and it is composed of 6 small eyes distributed across the face in the shape of a horseshoe, located in the lower part of the head. Their antennas are used to detect food, using their powerful jaws to quickly devour leafs, buds, small stems etc…

How to detect the attack of caterpillars on marijuana plants?

Detected Caterpillar

We have explained that butterflies leave their eggs on the leafs of plants, but we haven’t mentioned that these leafs will be the first vital sustenance for newly born caterpillars. It should be noted that not all caterpillars prefer the same type of leafs, so we can find different types of caterpillars on cannabis, but we will usually find the same type of caterpillars , belonging to the same species, if we cultivate in the same geographic location.

First of all, we must thoroughly observe the plant, looking at those leaves or buds that are found in the highest parts of the plants, where butterflies lay their eggs. At first sight it?s really complicated to be able to see the eggs, but if we carefully examine the plant they will be distinguished as small sets of dots that acquire different colours (white/yellow) and shapes (round or oval), depending on the type of butterfly egg.

After this initial inspection – and during the whole flowering period – we must look at the buds, starting at the top and thoroughly examining the rest of the plant in search of small black remains or darker parts of the buds, which are sign of rottenness. The first attacked flowers are the bigger ones, but without being extremely compact, so caterpillars can easily pierce them and devour the softer tissues, such as the small branches of the lower parts of the buds.

In the case of finding a caterpillar, we should make a daily inspection of the whole plant, especially on those hours when the Sun is low and the ambient humidity is high, although it is very easy to find them on the rest of the day, eating nonstop, as their hunger is insatiable and voracious.

Bud bitten by a Caterpillar

How to prevent or eradicate caterpillar pests?

After an exhaustive search in our plants – and if a caterpillar is detected or if we observe any bitten bud -we should apply a product that repels or kills the eggs and larvae of butterflies.

These products are generally created on the basis of a gram-positive bacillus – such as Cordalene – that is naturally found in the soil and also on plants. Such products are specifically created to treat lepidoptera larvae plagues, being more or less effective depending on the type of larvae to treat, but always offering great results.

We can also treat the plants with broad-spectrum products to control caterpillars apart from other possible pests that can occur at the same time, in this case we could apply Mittel Concentrate in a dosage of 1 ml/l. When the butterfly larvae eat the vegetable matter treated with these product, they will intoxicate and die, leaving the plant free of intruders.

Eradicate Caterpillar by hand

Another product with which we can treat caterpillars and other types of insects – sucking insects – is Pireprot , which contains pyrethrins as active ingredient, acting by contact and leaving cannabis plants free of insects. In this case, caterpillars would be removed from the plants leaving them clean to continue flowering without mishaps.

It should be noted that all the above-mentioned products are bio-degradable and biological, so they can be used several times when required as a preventative or to eradicate Caterpillar plagues. The security period is relatively short but it?s recommended – and important – not to apply the product during the last 15 days before harvesting the cannabis plant to give time to the treatment to not leave traces of the product in the buds.

Fermented Caterpillar depositions provoke Botrytis

Plague of Caterpillar just bevore the harvest

In the case that the plague appears in these last 15 days we have to carefully observe the plants every day, opening the buds to see if caterpillars are hidden inside the flowers.

If we don?t proceed this way it?s very possible to harvest the plants with the larger buds clearly affected or even to throw them away because of caterpillars bites and defecations, which cause the appearance of fungi like botrytis.

In the case of having the plants affected by botrytis, you can treat them as long as you can leave a security period of 15 days before harvesting the plants. If the end of the flowering stage is near, the best will be to look at the state of the trichomes and – if these are mature enough – harvest the plants.

Once harvested, we should instantly proceed to remove the infected parts from the healthy ones. If we do not separate these parts infected with fungus this will extend to end up rotting the whole bud, even during the drying phase, as it requires a few days to lose much of the humidity contained in its metabolism.

Precautions post-harvest for the caterpillars

Macro of a Caterpillar devouring a bud

After harvesting the marijuana plants we should hang the plants upside down to perform a proper drying of the cannabis buds. In this way, plants lose their humidity and stop being a good hideout for those caterpillars that have been able to survive the purge realized by hand.

These caterpillars will leave the plant to be able to become butterflies, so when plants are dried, we?ll be able to see the caterpillars sliding down from the bud making rappel until arriving to the ground.

Once arrived to the ground, they will quickly seek another vital sustenance to be able to feed and continue their vital process, so it?s important to recover these caterpillars to prevent that they fill our house with cocoons and later with butterflies, as they embed in the most unlikely and generally inaccessible places.

Recommendations for a crop without caterpillars:

  • Locate the butterflies that lay down on the plants.
  • Look for eggs on the leafs.
  • During the flowering phase, control the buds looking for signs of bites.
  • In case of detection, apply Biothur or another product against caterpillars.
  • Stop applying the product within the last 15 days.
  • Review the plants and buds after harvest and remove the infected or bitten parts.
  • Capture the caterpillars by hand in the case of not being able to apply the product.

Common caterpillar on cannabis plants

Are there caterpillars in your cannabis plant?

There are a lot of plagues that can harm our cannabis plants. In today’s article we will talk about the caterpillars that can appear above all in outdoor growing operations, where there are often an infinity of insects who can lay eggs without us even realizing it until we notice the harm that they are doing. Because of this, we have to continue closely observing our crop in order to be able to detect any possible plague and pick out the eggs of future parasites that destroy your harvest.

Caterpillars and worms are a plague that, if you act immediately, are easily eliminated. The majority of worms that we find in our plants come from moth larvae, which is to say, that they are the eggs of typical fuzzy butterflies that we see flying around at night.

Source: very interesting

Butterflies lay eggs on the top parts of our marijuana plant, in the flowers and on the buds where recently hatched worms can find food to survive and grow. According to the kind of butterfly, the worms can be greenish, yellowish or whitish… and they are small and round. The worm hatches and begins to eat, causing small holes in the leaves or eating its borders. In 2-4 weeks, it will have grown and changed color and it will look for a place to build its cocoon. From there, the butterfly emerges and begins the cycle again.

Above all, in the flowering time take special care of the buds since the softest areas are the first to be devoured by the caterpillars.

How do you detect a caterpillar plague?

Once the plague is advanced it is very evident and you will see how rapidly your marijuana plant is devoured. But at the beginning of the cycle, it’s not as easy to see and for that reason you have to keep in mind a few basic bits of advice:

  • Butterflies: if you see them fly around your plants, try to avoid them and begin checking to make sure that they haven’t laid eggs.
  • Eggs: you can find these on the flowers and leaves, above all on the upper parts of the plant and in the areas of the leaves that are closest to the stalk.
  • Holes on the leaves: if you have holes or the leaves are chewed around the borders. It means that the worms have already emerged from their eggs and they are feeding on your cannabis plant as they grow.
  • Excrement: Look to see if there is any evidence of defecation that the worm has left along the way. It is dark in color and can bring us even more problems like botrytis, among other fungi.
  • Dark marks on the bud: if the caterpillar is in this zone, you will see how the flower has rotten and brown parts. Keep your eye on the flower and the bud since it is the first that to get eaten in the blink of an eye.
  • Watch at night: since this is the time with the caterpillars are most active. During the day they camouflage themselves and they can’t be seen on the leaves.

Photographic source: Cannabis Cultura

How do you eliminate a worm plague?

As soon as you detect that you have caterpillars, you must act immediately if you don’t want to end up without a plant.

  • Remove them by hand: This is the first thing you need to do. Though it may seen very obvious it is very important since when you catch them you might not have any specialized products on hand, nor do you want to just spray anything that could hurt your plant. So, you need to bite the bullet and remove each one that you can see on your cannabis plant.
  • Biological insecticide: these are the most recommendable in order to avoid leaving chemical traces, above all in the flowering phase or close to it. We suggest that you use biodegradable products that attack worms and caterpillars in a natural way. For example, you can use Bacillus Thuringiensis (once a week for three weeks), Mittel, Bio Thur, Prirepot… According to how advance the plague is or how big the worms have grown, some products may be more useful than others.
  • Homemade remedies: pepper and garlic infusion can also be useful, as can a mixture of pyrethrum and rotenone.
  • Natural predators: such as the Trichogramma, Apanteles, Trichoderma Hamatum, Podisus maluliventris, Orius spp.y crisopas…

Note: it is important to not apply products if you are in the 15 final days before harvest. In this case, do not spray any insecticide and remove all of the caterpillars that you possibly can manually.. Another thing to keep in mind is to be careful that we don’t leave any trace of them. At the moment of harvest and drying, when you hang the plant upside down to dry, the worms will no longer have fresh, green food and they will leave. You can be sure that they will look for another place to build their cocoon and start their cycle over again. So, be careful to make sure that you don’t have cocoons or eggs in the corners of your house that could later turn into the next generation of destroyers of your cannabis plants.

How to Keep Caterpillars Off Your Cannabis Plants

Most outdoor- and guerilla growers experienced the terrible feeling you get when ripping out pest-infected plants. This is almost as heart-breaking as loosing buds to mould. It’s a sad thing to sacrifice the already infected plants to be able to harvest at least something. It doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. There are different approaches of keeping the vicious caterpillar away from your precious plants.

Know Your Enemy

It’s extremely important to know what exact species is threatening your harvests. Individual strategies that are specifically tailored to the pests are the most effective. When having problems with caterpillars, the analysis can be quite difficult because there are more than 21.000 different species.

All of them are the larvae of butterflies, or moths. They have one thing in common: They all love cannabis, just like us.

The Corn Borer and the Hemp Borer are causing the greatest damage to cannabis plants and therefore are examined in further detail. Attacks of the Hemp Borer are very problematic because they feast on the marrow within the stalk of our plants.

This ultimately leads to a weakening of the whole organism. It only takes a handful of larvae to destroy an entire plant within a short period of time. Corn Borers are equally damaging because they drill holes into the stems and therefore open up the gates for all kinds of sap sucking bugs.

How to Spot Caterpillars

Spotting stem boring caterpillars on time is the most important thing in order to have a decent chance to get rid of them. This can be tricky because caterpillars are true experts of camouflaging, and eggs are kind of hard to spot.

When you are checking your outdoor grow, closely take a look at all the stems of your plants, to detect holes, with brown trails surrounding them. If you find these holes in your stems, the chances are pretty high that you have a serious problem. The only thing you can do at this point is to remove all the parts of the plant, where you have found these holes.

The best thing to do, when problems with stem boring caterpillars occurred in the past, is to be one step ahead, preventing the eggs of butterflies to hatch, and the larvae to consider your plants as a potential nourishment.

Butterflies usually lay their eggs on leaves, so the newly born caterpillars have something to eat after they hatch. Oftentimes, butterflies prefer to lay their eggs in the higher parts of the plant. This is where you have to look for them. These eggs are tiny, but you can use a magnifying glass, or the pocket microscope, every grower should have. The eggs look like a small cluster of dots that can be yellow or white in colour. Shapes are ranging from round to oval. This depends a little bit on the individual butterfly species.

Treatment and Prevention Methods: Biological Warfare

Especially when growing outdoors, growing organic can be good approach to produce high-quality cannabis without harming for the environment. Nature generously provides everything we live off: Clean air and water, food, textiles, and most importantly, beautiful cannabis blossoms. This is why it’s so important to preserve it for future generations of earth’s citizens and stoners. This article provides information about biological/organic methods to battle caterpillars.

Nature regulates itself and always tries to bring things in the right balance. This is crucial to understand when dealing with pests because we partly interfere with these regulating mechanisms. Oftentimes nature takes care of problems like this but large monocultures, used by commercial agriculture, are destroying biodiversity at a rapid pace. This actually hurts us, the eco-friendly cannabis grower.

Here are some things you can do without spraying chemical pesticides:

  1. Remove all the caterpillars you can find by hand. Either let them crawl in a garden of someone you don’t like, or kill them. It’s up to you. Just throwing them away is not sufficient because they will come back.
  2. Introduce parasitic wasps to your outdoor grow. There are web-shops in most countries that conveniently deliver beneficial insects to your home. These wasps lay their eggs on the larvae of the butterflies. Newborn wasps will feast of these organisms.
  3. Get your hands on some praying mantis. This is a good option if you live in warmer climates because they don’t do very well when temperatures are too cold. These elegant predators are not leaving the plant until every caterpillar is killed and eaten up.
  4. Spray your plants with neem oil. It won’t be very effective if you already have a large caterpillar population on your plants, but neem oil is always a good option to prevent pests from overpopulating your plants in the first place.
  5. Apply a biological product like Biothur (Trabe), Spruzit Concentrate (Neudorff), or Pireprot (Ecoprotec). These products are tailored to get rid of larvae plagues and are generally made from gram-positive bacillus that is found in natural soils.

Even if all of these products are biological, keep in mind that some people, including you, might smoke or digest the cannabis blossoms you grow. Don’t apply them during the last 14 days of flowering if you want to harvest a product that is free of any traces.

Last words about pests and cannabis growing

Have a good time growing this magnificent plant and remember to be thoughtful about your decisions when dealing with pests of all kinds. It’s better to lose some parts of your harvest then to have a product that is highly contaminated with pesticides.

Most people prefer Cannabis because it’s a natural product, grown by Mother Earth. Respect nature and the organisms that live on this planet. You will be rewarded for this. It’s nothing but a matter of time. Grow healthy plants, big buds, and a superior quality product!

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