Common Insects found in Hydroponics


Common Insects found in Hydroponics

Spider Mite:  You’re probably going to find these on the underside of leaves, and they flourish when it’s hot and dry. Less than 1 mm (.04”) in size and varying in color, they may spin silky webs for protection (hence the “spider” part of their name). Spider mites cause damage by puncturing the cells of the plants to feed. Their eggs are spherical and initially transparent. Home gardeners will usually see them on peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, corn, cannabis, and strawberries. They can become pesticide resistant when the same pesticide is used over a prolonged period. Neem oil, insecticidal soaps, root drenches, foliar sprays, and predatory mites are known to be effective for combating spider mites.

Aphid:  Also known as “plant lice,” these small, sap-suckers are among the most destructive pests for cultivated plants. They vary in length from 1-10 mm (.04” - .39”), most aphids have soft bodies, which may be green, black, brown, pink, or almost colorless. A variety of symptoms can be evidential of aphid damage:  decreased growth rate, mottled leaves, yellowing, stunted growth, curled leaves, browning, wilting, low yields and death. Aphids can be controlled using neem oil, insecticidal soaps, root drenches, foliar sprays, and beneficial bugs such as lady bugs and lacewings.

Scale:  Scales are plant parasites that feed on sap from the plant’s vascular system. They vary dramatically in appearance with some being very small (1–2 mm) beneath wax covers shaped like oyster or mussel shells, some roughly 5mm shiny pearl-like objects, and some like mealy wax-covered creatures. Adult female scales are almost always immobile and permanently attached to the plant they have parasitized. The waxy coating defends them against many insecticides and is the reason they resemble reptilian or fish scales. While the coating might protect them from insecticides, horticultural oils can be used to suffocate them. Insecticidal soaps can also be effective, as well as beneficial bugs like lady bugs and cryptolaemus. Foliar sprays can also be used.

Fungus Gnat (Scarid Fly):  Small, dark, and short-lived, the larvae fungus gnat feeds on plant roots. They will often swarm around a person’s mouth, being attracted by the carbon dioxide. While they are typically harmless to healthy plants, they can do extensive damage to seedlings. They can also be very tolerant of freezing temperatures. Fungus gnats can be managed through traps, reservoir additives, foliar sprays, root drenches, and beneficial bugs.

Whitefly:  Little, white, moth-looking things, whiteflies are typically eating on the underside of leaves. Their saliva is toxic, spreading disease and causing mold. Whiteflies rapidly become resistant to chemical pesticides, so more effective ways of dealing with them include beneficial bugs such as delphastus and encarsia formosaroot drenches, foliar sprays, and traps.

Thrips: These slender, cigar-shaped little insects can range in size from 0.5 to 14 mm (0.02” - 0.55”) but most are about 1 mm in length. Adult thrips have fringed wings. Thrip eggs are roughly 0.2 mm long and kidney-shaped. On cannabis, thrips can leave what looks like silver steaks on the leaves. Products containing spinosad are especially useful on thrips. Traps, beneficial bugs, root drenches, and foliar sprays can also be used.

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