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    The Angry Grower: Avoiding and Identifying Pests In Your Garden

    Your ability to identify the pests in your garden depends not only on your attention to detail and knowledge but your tools as well, with one of the most important being a microscope. Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a traditional microscope. A quick search on your favorite conglomerate shopping app and you can find handheld digital microscope that connect to your phone or computer for under 50$

    Now that you have the ability to see even the smallest of pests, you’ll need to learn the different signs of an infestation. Here are a few off the top of my head;

    Spider Mites

    Spider mites are often transferred from other gardens and can reproduce very quickly. They are found on the bottom of the leaves but are also easily overlooked. Their bites leave small white specks, and if left untreated, webs can form to the point of buds looking “shrink-wrapped.”

    Thrips 

    Thrips are larger and more easily spotted than most mites. While looking like small baby worms, they leave silver or bronze marks on the leaves.

    Mealybugs 

    Mealybugs are found crawling on buds and leaves and can act as a vector for many plant diseases. Primarily white-colored, with a “fluffy, hairy, waxy, cotton like” material covering their pink bodies

    Broad and Russet Mites 

    These are possibly the hardest to see and can easily be mistaken for nutrient deficiencies, pH inconsistencies, or heat stress. The leaves will end up glossy, twisted up and blistered. Depending on the severity of the infestation, buds can turn brown as well

    Aphids

    These can be a little tricky to identify at first because they can be tiny while appearing different depending on the stage of their life. Their pear-shaped bodies can be found on the bottom of the leaves, as well as on the roots.

    Look out for aphids on the bottoms of your leaves!
    Photo: Victor Forgacs

    Fungus Gnats

    Growing mediums such as soil that stays wet for extended periods can be breeding grounds for fungus gnats. They appear to be small dark flies with worm-like larva that lives in damp topsoil.

    Leafhoppers

    Due to the wide range of colors these pests come in, they can be challenging to identify at first. Leafhoppers can cause leaves to curl, dry or brown with perhaps the most common sign being clusters of spots

    Prevention is Key

    Besides making sure that your room is perfectly sealed and that there’s no stagnant water, be sure to check the entirety of your plants – including bottoms of leaves – regularly. Don’t go more than three days without checking WITH A MICROSCOPE, if not every day. That goes for new clones as well. If you receive clones from an outside source, make sure to keep in quarantine and treat them as if they may already be infested.

    Don’t make the Grower Angry: PLEASE take the precautions to keep pests off your plants!

    One of the most common mistakes is going in your grow room straight from being outdoors or in another grow room. Spraying yourself with alcohol doesn’t guarantee anything, so I prefer to change my clothes and shoes. Having animals like dogs running through your garden is also a bad idea. Even though you don’t always see the bugs directly on yourself, you or your animal could be carrying their eggs

    Keep in mind that it’s nearly impossible to be completely bug-free 100% of the time. Identifying, treating, and solid prevention practices can significantly reduce infestations to basically zero. Remember to be vigilant; for every two bugs you find, there’s probably two hundred and counting already! If you do find your problem gets out of hand, you might want to look for a good Rosslyn based company – or somewhere nearer to you – to rid you of the pests.

    Stop by the Angry Grower’s column to ask him your grow questions or connect with him on the NUGL App here.

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