There are some insect infestations that happen almost exclusively in outdoor grows and they tend to absolutely devastating for your cannabis plants. One of these infestations are budworm caterpillars which tend to appear during the flowering period when your plants’ buds are still growing – the worst moment for any insect infestation to appear.
What are Budworm Caterpillars?
Budworms are worms or caterpillars that come from garden moths and night time butterflies, which are generally considered to be harmless by many growers but this isn’t the case. The caterpillars are the moth’s larvae stage, and there are various species of budworm that feed off of cannabis.
They tend to appear the most during the flowering stage outdoors due to the temperature and their life cycle, although they can also appear during the growth stage. This infestation is absolutely devastating, so you’ll need to work hard to prevent, detect and get rid of them as soon as possible.
Budworms feed from leaves and buds on your plants, causing extreme damage that can’t be repaired. They make holes in the buds where they leave excrement, which can also cause rot in your flowers and end up ruining them entirely.
How to Detect Budworm Caterpillars
Budworm caterpillars are easy to detect due to the damage they cause on your plants’ leaves, although the best way to go is to use preventive products before having to find them. If you’ve found budworms on your plants you’ll need to act fast.
During the growth stage they’re much less likely to appear, but it isn’t impossible. They’ll be quite evident if you see bites or holes in your plants’ leaves; this infestations feeds directly off of the leaves.
During the flowering stage, this infestation is much more common and this is when you’ll need to keep an eye out for them. During this stage, the budworms hide in the buds to eat them from the inside out. They also leave behind excrement inside the flowers, which increases the risk of root rot, especially if the infestation is bad.
Budworms can be green or brown, depending on the species of moth they come from, which means that it’s incredibly easy for them to hide in among your plants. During the day they can be harder to find; they tend to hide in between stems and leaves. They’re much easier to find in the morning or before sunset.
How to Prevent Budworm Caterpillars
If you have an outdoor grow, you must prevent against budworms right from the get go if you don’t want to deal with them in the future. Once they’ve made their way onto your plants they can be incredibly difficult to get rid of and may end up destroying your plants entirely.
In order to avoid this you can use products high in silicon which reinforce leaves and stems, such as Urtimax by Terra Aquatica, an organic additive that’s also rich in many other nutrients.
Diatical by Trabe is a highly efficient product when it comes to getting rid of budworms; it’s made using diatomaceous earth and also has a high silicon count. Plus, it can be used when watering and is an organic product, so it can be used during the growth and flowering periods.
Keep in mind that organic products need to be applied frequently.
How to Get Rid of Budworms
If you’ve found budworms on your plants, all you can do is fight them off as best possible. You’ll need to act fast and be constant and methodical when treating your plants.
If you find an infestation during the growth period, it should be relatively easy to get rid of them all. You can use products designed to get rid of eggs such as Spruzit, combined with other products which are capable of increasing plant protection. Bio Defense 1 and 2 is a product that comes in two parts and it’s designed to increase your plants’ bio defence system when it comes to different types of insect and fungi infestations.
During the flowering stage we highly recommend using organic and bio insecticides and preventive products; chemical products can alter the environment and they leave too many residues on your plants, meaning that consuming their flowers could be dangerous.
You’ll need to act as fast as possible; at this stage, the budworms will be actively eating the flowers. The first thing you’ll need to do is remove as many as you can by hand early in the morning or before sunset. Make sure to take the time to look at their flowers and under the leaves, hand removing every last caterpillar that you can find.
You can also use spray products such as Spruzit or Mobet, an insecticidal soap, but you’ll need to take extreme care as to not spray the flowers. You’ll need to combine this treatment with removing them by hand if you want to get rid of them and have healthy, mature plants.
If you have any questions regarding how to get rid of or fight off budworm caterpillars, get in touch with our team and we’ll help you out!