What To Do When Crickets Are Eating Your Marijuana Plants

marijuana grasshopper cricket

Crickets, especially field and mole crickets can be very damaging to cannabis crops.  Field crickets are brown to black in color, are an inch to an inch and a half long, have long antennae and six legs.  The hind legs are longer and stronger than the others, which helps them to propel themselves over long distances.

Crickets are known for their chirping sounds and may be soothing to some, but they can wreak havoc on Mary Jane.  What's interesting to note (and has absolutely nothing to do with the topic at hand) is you can determine the air temperature by the amount of chirps a male field cricket emits.  Count how many chirps he makes in a thirteen second span and add forty to that number.  The sum should come pretty close to the outside temperature.  Try it sometime and use the trivia at your next party.

Field crickets are omnivorous, meaning they are not discriminatory; they eat plant life and insects alike.   As such, the marijuana plant is a prime target.  They thrive on weeds and, after all, why do you think pot is referred to as 'weed'?  It is, in fact a weed by definition. Although crickets can provide natural weed control, feeding on decaying plant material and fungi as the mainstay of their diet; their eating habits can be devastating to the cannabis crop due to seedlings appealing to the cricket as a palatable pleasant change of course. 

The cricket's mating season is distinguished by the chirping sounds they emit. When you hear them, they are ready, willing and able to reproduce.  Now is when you need to arm yourself against cricket damage because they are calling in the troops!

Crickets are nocturnal by nature.  They feed on your carefully tended crops after you have retired for the day.  They are as sneaky as the cutworm and can be just as damaging.

Mole crickets, on the other hand, seem to be from a different planet.  They are ugly light brown little creatures with fat segmented bodies, wings and, what almost looks like hands, as their front legs and look nothing like the crickets with which we are familiar.  Mole crickets were introduced to the US via transport ships therefore they have no natural continental predators. However, mole crickets are not immune to parasitic wasps which lay their eggs on the bodies of the immigrant crickets.  In turn the crickets are eaten by the hatching parasitic wasp larvae.  Adult wasps just aren't interested, perhaps because mole crickets are so ugly and unappealing!

OK, so we inadvertently jumped to one natural control mechanism.  Let's back step to the damage crickets can cause.

Mole crickets are another unsuspected pest because they do their damage at night and live most of their lives underground.  They, too, are omnivores; unselective in their food consumption.  The ones of which you want to be aware are those that eat roots and shoots.  They also love to dine on seedlings, which is where they come into this discussion.

As a result of their underground life, they create raised mounds of earth much like a mole but on a smaller scale.  This attracts raccoons, armadillos, birds, rats, skunks and foxes, all of which can damage your crop because they are attracted to your garden when they spot the mound and dig up the mole cricket as a tasty snack.  This may initially appear to be a natural fix, but it actually creates more problems for your marijuana crop.  The rodent and mammal population will be discussed once we with finish with the bugs.

If you suspect a mole cricket problem, add a couple of teaspoons of dishwashing liquid to a gallon jug of water.  Pour the mixture over a one to two square foot area of the surrounding soil in the evening or early morning, before sunrise.  If mole crickets are present, they will rise to the top of the soil.

Organic control of these pests is best achieved by introducing beneficial nematodes to the soil.  If you have prepared the planting site with organic compost, this should have warded off the problem.  In the event mole crickets appear despite your preparatory measures, add thin applications of compost to the planting site.