One morning while working in my garden, I noticed what appeared to be a tiny fuzzball crawling on my basil plant. It looked like a piece of cotton or fuzz from a white sweater just crawling along, minding its own business. I had seen grasshoppers, spiders, and even a bumble bee or three hanging out in/near my herb garden, but this was a first. So, I consulted the all-knowing machine that is Google.
It was a wooly aphid.
According to the University of Maryland Extension, Wooly Aphids are a kind of aphid that produce a fluffy white wax that covers their bodies. They work much like the aphids growers all over the nation are familiar with. However, wooly aphids are more associated with crop plants like apple trees rather than hemp or cannabis.
Aphids are known to be a common pest for growers and farmers. According to the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources website, "Aphids suck and feed on phloem sap. The excess plant fluid they consume is excreted as white wax and clear, sticky honeydew." This damage can leave plants vulnerable to viruses, viroids, and other problems.
Treatment for wooly aphids depends on your state's laws and regulations. However, they can be treated in the same way that common aphids the cannabis community is familiar with. But the pesticides and alternatives depend on what is legally allowed. For more information about your state's guidelines, please contact the governing body for your state's hemp or legal cannabis program.
Wooly aphids, while interesting, are just as crop-damaging as any other pest. It is vital for grows to maintain proper cleanliness and maintenance on their facilities and plants to avoid an infestation. Mother Nature had a sense of whimsy when she created the wooly aphid, but finding them on your plants is no laughing matter.