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Protect Marijuana Plants from Bugs and Large Pests

Growing outdoors can lead to plants that are huge and healthy, but one of the biggest things growers need to worry about is pests damaging or eating the marijuana plants. A little bit of knowledge can help weed seed growers spot potential pests and ensure they are removed before harm is done. Where possible, it’s best to work to prevent the following pests and use organic control methods if they are found.


Ants won’t generally hurt a pot plant, but they are attracted to the plants if there are other pests in the area. If the ants do live too close to the plants, the tunnels they dig can damage the roots or make it difficult for the plants to get the right nutrients. Deal with ants by spreading cornmeal around the base of the marijuana plants, but make sure to get rid of their food source as well as it’s likely damaging the plants.


Aphids are tiny bugs that live on the underside of leaves. They can be found on plants indoors or outdoors, whether you live in Oregon or Pennsylvania. With the outdoor plants, there are natural predators that can help get rid of them, like ants. Indoors, they can quickly spread and will steal the nutrients from the plants, causing them to die. To get rid of them, use an organic spray that can be applied directly to the bottom of the leaves.


Caterpillars love to eat leaves, and they’ll continue munching on the cannabis plant leaves until the plant has few to no leaves left. Some will actually dig into the plant, eating the inside of the stalk and stems. Many caterpillars are attracted to cannabis plants, so prevention is key. Wasps, birds, and other pests that feed on caterpillars will help but use organic spray deterrents as well to keep them away.


Cutworms tend to go after plants when they’re still seedlings. They are active during the night, so it’s difficult to see them on the plants. The main sign they’re around is that the plants will have the top taken off of it. For seedlings, this likely means the plant won’t survive. Get rid of these by tilling soil or keep them away by planting sunflowers in the garden. They’ll stay away from the sunflowers, and the marijuana plants as a result.


Crickets and Grasshoppers

Commonly found in gardens, crickets and grasshoppers love marijuana plants and will eat them, destroying the whole crop. They generally eat at night, so they can be difficult to spot until the plant has already suffered damage. Along with this, birds and other pests will dig near the roots to eat them, which can damage the roots of the plants. Use a spray of diluted dishwashing liquid, not detergent, to keep them away from plants.

Fungus Gnats

Fungus gnats tend to start out at the base of the plant and work their way down to the roots. They enjoy eating marijuana plants, and they can not only eat through the roots or base of the plant but can impact the soil drainage, which can cause further damage. They can be almost impossible to spot, but they can be caught by leaving a sticky pad near the base of the plant. If they’re found, use a mix of peroxide and water and spray near where they’re located.


Leaf Miners

Leaf miners are named that because they dig through the leaves on a plant, taking essential nutrients and damaging the leaves. They can be spotted by looking for white or brown streaks along the top of leaves. The larvae may also be planted under the leaves and will burrow inside the plant after they are born. The only way to get rid of leaf miners is to find them on the plant and squash them.


Mealybugs are commonly found in the more hidden parts of the plant, like where the branches attach to the stem. A few of them aren’t going to be an issue, but if the population gets to be too big, they can damage marijuana plants. Ants can be a sign they’re around, as ants eat the pests that eat mealybugs. If they are found, pull them off the plant and use lemon juice as a natural deterrent.

Snails and Slugs

Snails and slugs can often be noticed by the trails they leave behind. They enjoy marijuana plants and can end up causing quite a bit of damage to the plants. A common method to get rid of them is to pour a little bit of beer around the plants or to use salt around the plants. A more natural way to keep populations down is to create ponds or water features that will attract frogs.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are a very common problem, and they can completely overrun a cannabis garden in as little as a week. They feed on the plant, stealing nutrients and chlorophyll. Ladybugs are a natural predator of spider mites, and they can be purchased online. Spider mites can also be removed from plants with a mixture of neem oil and water. Once they’re off the plant, they will have trouble getting back on and will likely die quickly.


Thrips, unlike most pests, enjoy the flower on cannabis plants. If they are found, it means the flowers will likely be eaten, so there won’t be a good harvest. They can also spread plant diseases, which can kill marijuana plants quickly. Prevention is the best way to protect plants from thrips, and this can be done by using high-quality compost and keeping the area around the plants clean. If they are found, a neem oil and water spray can get them off the plants.


Underneath the leaves, whiteflies might be found. They are tiny flies, but they can damage plants quickly and are likely to spread plant diseases. Prevention is key here, and the best way to do this is to plant colorful flowers that can attract predators like hummingbirds and insects. A diluted garlic spray can also help keep them from going near your chronic plants.


Birds are predators of many insects, so often they’re great to have in the garden. However, birds do love seeds, so they can be a problem before the cannabis plants have sprouted and started to grow. Using netting over the area with the seeds or covering the seeds with another material can allow the seeds to get what they need while protecting them from birds.

Cats and Dogs

Cats and dogs won’t eat marijuana plants, but if they use the bathroom near the plants, it could cause serious issues. Cat urine, for instance, can badly damage plants. Urine and fecal matter can also attract parasites and other pests. Instead, it’s best to put up at least a small fence or to otherwise keep any pets away from marijuana plants growing in the yard.



Deer are a common issue for gardeners in Iowa and much of the east-coast as they love eating plants. They don’t really like mature marijuana plants, but they do enjoy eating younger plants. In most cases, they’ll eat the entire plant, leaving just the roots behind. The best option to keep them away is a sturdy fence, though motion-detecting lights, as well as various scents, can help keep deer away from cannabis plants. One method many gardeners use is to spray urine from a predator, as the deer will avoid the whole area once they smell it.

Gophers and Moles

Gophers and moles won’t eat cannabis plants, and they will eat some insects that would damage the plants. However, left alone, they can end up damaging the roots for the plants, if not pulling the whole plant into their tunnel. Encouraging natural predators like hawks can help, as can using a garlic oil in the area. Another way to get rid of them is to set traps for them and have them removed and relocated when they are caught.

Rats and Mice

Rats and mice can eat marijuana plants if there isn’t anything better around, or they may chew on the plants to control their growing teeth. They might not be easy to spot, but proper prevention can ensure they are kept far away from marijuana plants to help prevent issues. Encouraging predators like birds can help keep the rat and mice population down, but traps may be needed in some cases. Local authorities can advise on the proper type of traps and how to handle rats and mice in the yard.

Final Thoughts

Outdoor growing can offer a ton of benefits, but there is always the potential for pests. Keeping a close eye on your feminized plants and inspecting them regularly can help you spot potential pests before they cause serious damage and enable you to get rid of them quickly. Use the information here to keep an eye out for any potential pests, whether it’s larger animals in Vermont or tiny bugs in Northern Washington, so your marijuana plants are protected. This way you will be able to get a fantastic harvest from your American seeds at the end of the season.


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