1. What crop stage are you in?
Predators take time to work their magic. If the cannabis crop is already in the later stages of flower (week 4 or later) then it may be best to seek an alternative pest management option. Beneficials perform best when used preventatively, to treat minor infestations, or hot spots.
It is most advantageous to use natural enemies when plants are in the nursery, vegetative growth, or early flowering stages growth. The earlier beneficials are introduced the more time there is for the predators to hunt down their prey and interrupt the pest's lifecycle.
2. What pest do you have?
Pest identification is an important step in finding a beneficial that will work best in any given situation. For example, ladybugs are one of the most well known predator bugs amongst gardeners. They are popular because of their familiarity, however, there are many pest bugs that a ladybug will not eat. The dreaded spider mite is much too small to satisfy the ladybug's appetite and much too fast for it to catch, even if it wasn't being picky about what was on the menu. A much more efficient predator for spider mites would be the Phytoseiulus persimilis. This predator is a carnivorous mite that is quick enough to catch up to it's favorite prey and small enough that a spider mite makes a satisfying snack.
Using the best suited predator for the observed pest is the best way to find the way to a pest-free space. Release Phytoseiulus persimilis to battle spider mites, Orius insidious for thrips, Chrysopa Carnea for aphids, and Hypoaspis miles for fungus gnats.
Here a link to our pest identification chart which may be helpful:
3. What is your infestation level?
Undertreatment is the number one reason natural enemies do not work. Proper assessment of the severity of the infestation is vitally important to successful treatment. Catching an outbreak at the outset of its emergence will give the beneficials the most opportunity to curb the pest population before it gets out of control.
The most common pest bugs are widely known because they are excellent at breeding. This talent of exponentially increasing their masses in a short amount of time is one of the main characteristics that makes them so difficult to exterminate. A severe infestation is more difficult to control because the pest bug's development outstrips the beneficial's. This pest bug evolutionary trait can only be hampered by releasing more and more predators to find biological balance or better.
Preventative treatment is highly recommended in our IPM programs. Pest prevention while plants are small is the most economical way to use beneficials.
4. What is your room and plant size?
This is an easy one...
The bigger the room, the more predators need to be released.
The more plants are in a facility the more predators need to be released.
On our website we make recommendations per square foot and according to plant size for each species of predator bug that is available.
5. What are the unique environmental conditions?
Things like temperature, humidity, crop rotation frequency, media selection etc can all have an impact on the decision of which predator bug may be best for any given grow space.
For example, in a hydroponic system we don't recommend using soil loving predators such as hypoaspis miles and atheta coriara. These beneficials won't love the lack of soil to scurry around in so they will exit the building looking for more amenable accommodations. There are also certain situations, such as summer greenhouses, in which one predator might be more effective than an other when temperature are hotter mid summer.
If ever unsure, feel free to contact us and we will be more than happy to make recommendations!