Rose pests that attack roses and how to control them

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Rose pests that attack roses and how to control them

Rose pests that attack roses and how to control them

Last Updated on January 23, 2020 by John

Roses are known for there stunning often scented flowering displays, so long as they aren’t being attacked. But, as is the case with all plants, there is a risk for damage from pests with aphids being the main culprit. This is not a reason to remove your existing roses or avoid planting them, but it is nonetheless important to understand the common rose pests that attack roses, and how to spot the early signs before they get out of control and how to control them. 

Rose Pests

There are a handful of annoying pests that prove problematic for roses. The pests that attack roses range from creatures that subsist off your plant and, if you don’t treat them, they can seriously damage your roses. With most of these pests, traditional measures like spring bug killers are very effective but there are natural, alternative forms of control as well. You can even do things like introducing natural predators like ladybirds which you can actually buy or plant companion plants.

The most common pest problems you will face include things like:

  • Aphids such as greenfly, whitefly and blackfly
  • Caterpillars
  • Leaf rolling sawfly
  • Rose slug sawfly
  • Red spider mite
  • Thrips

Aphids

Aphids on rose plant

Aphids will cause significant damage to foliage and buds very quickly if the infestation is allowed to continue unchecked. Aphids will settle in large numbers and they multiply very quickly on young shoots or new buds. Once they settle into place they will start to suck out the sap and distort your rose leaving behind a secretion known as honeydew which is very sticky and eventually turns into a black fungus referred to as sooty mould.

Controlling aphids

You can use organic pest sprays to coat the aphids with a sticky substance. You can also make the same type of spray at home with a mixture of dish soap, liquid, and water. The goal here is to cover the aphid with something sticky which renders them motionless and block the spores in their shells they use to breathe.

While these are effective if you use them thoroughly to coat every single leaf and flower, top to bottom, inside and out, they are not as effective as chemical controls. If you want to introduce natural predators you can introduce ladybugs which you can actually buy or encourage small birds into your garden as they will eat the aphids rather quickly. You can also plant marigolds around the perimeter of your roses.

The best control method will be a systemic pesticide which you apply on a regular basis. This will prevent an infestation in the first place and kill the insect immediately if you have an existing infestation. Some products such as RoseClear Ultra will even help control diseases and fungus such as black spot, powdery mildew and rust.

Recommended systemic pesticide + fungicide

RoseClear Ultra Concentrate 200ml
  • Systmic insecticide and fungicide with 3-in-1 action
  • Kills systemically and on contact
  • Kills aphids
  • Controls blackspot, powdery mildew and rust
  • Protects for up to four weeks to prevent further attacks

Caterpillars

Caterpillar eating rose bush

Caterpillars will make their way up the stems of your roses and eat the leaves with a great deal of enthusiasm. Females lay their eggs on the underside of a leaf so you likely won’t notice them until they have matured and started causing damage. You might see large chunks of your leaves suddenly disappear and as soon as you see one you need to remove the caterpillar and destroy it. If you have a large infestation of caterpillars, the removal by hand will not be sufficient especially when there are likely many young eggs still maturing on the underside of your leaves. At this point, it’s important to spray with an insecticide on both sides of the leaves. Again with recommend using RoseClear Ultra

Froghopper Beetles

Froghopper beetles

The Frog Hopper Beetle is another pest that likes to make its initial home in your rose bush. You might notice what looks like spit, foamy white substances around your flower buds or in the joints. Be advised that inside of this substance is a young froghopper beetle. It gets its name from the fact that once fully grown it will start to hop around your roses, eating the sap inside the young buds and shoots the same as an aphid. It’s unlikely that the Frog Hopper Beetle will cause a lot of damage but it will result in occasional wilting and the best method of control is to spray hose as soon as you notice the unsightly white foam. 

Leaf Rolling Sawfly

Rose Sawfly eating rose bush leaves

The leaf rolling sawfly female lays the eggs inside the leaves of your roses and the most telltale sign of an infestation is rolling or curling leaves. If you notice your leaves are curling inward and downward, it is likely a reaction to the chemical left behind by the female once she lays her eggs.

When the larvae hatch they start to eat the leaves which renders them useless. It’s difficult to control this with pesticides because the leaves stay curled around the larvae and you have to get the pesticide inside that curled leaf to be effective. Now, there is an option for manually removing the larvae when you see them or removing the curled leaves. If you have a mild infestation with a few leaves here or there this is fine but if you have a large infestation, removing the leaves would cause more damage to your rose bush than what the larvae would do. The best control is to remove leaves early on as soon as you see them and burn them.

Deer

If you live in a rule area with a growing population of dear which is now the case in many parts of the Uk, your young roses are at risk deer. When snow falls on the ground deer start to straight into regular gardens in search of food. You can put up a perimeter fence to try and protect your roses but they can scale large fences easily.

Rose Slug Sawfly (Slug worm)

These are little slug type creatures and they are actually the larvae of a type of sawfly. They eat the flesh of your rose leaves and you can tell when you have a problem because you will suddenly notice there’s nothing but a skeleton of veins left where a leaf once was.

 They will eat an entire leaf completely before they move on to the next. The only successful form of control for this investigation is to use an insecticide. Organic pest sprays and removal of the leaves is not likely to do anything.

Recommended systemic pesticide + fungicide

RoseClear Ultra Concentrate 200ml
  • Systmic insecticide and fungicide with 3-in-1 action
  • Kills systemically and on contact
  • Kills aphids
  • Controls blackspot, powdery mildew and rust
  • Protects for up to four weeks to prevent further attacks

Rabbits

Rabbits might seem adorable in children’s stories but in your garden, they are a pest. Young rabbits will eat the tender young shoots in springtime. Older rabbits will cause even more destruction, especially in Winter by eating away the bark of your rose bush as high as they can reach. If you live in an area with rabbits you will need to set up a wire mesh fence to protect your garden or erect individual fences around the base of every rose bush you have while they are still young. 

Red Spider Mite

Glasshouse Red Spider which effectives citrus trees

Tiny red spider mites are almost impossible to see with the naked eye because they are so small but they are a very prevalent test especially during hot weather or dry weather. You might not notice you have an infestation of red spider mites until they are so prolific that it looks as though your leaves have spots all over them. They also produce a fine web between leaves that causes a lot of damage and this is usually the point at which people noticed the problem.

The leaves start to become pale and limp looking as though they are dirty before they fall off. The best solution is to spray the leaves with an insecticide but if you don’t notice until such time as your leaves are covered in that webbing, the damage has already been done. You should wash down any plants on which you notice tiny spider mites every day until there are no more mites. 

Thrips

Thrips will start to eat the edges of the rose petals and eat large sections of an otherwise tightly for old Rosebud. Most gardeners notice the damage done by this insect before they actually notice the insect and at that time, much like the red spider mites, it’s too late.

You can work hard toward preventing thrips and this will be much more effective than trying to control it after the fact. Regularly spraying with a weak solution of dish liquid and water or an organic spray will go a long way toward prevention but if you do have it severe attack you need to use the stomach chemicals to remove the nuisance. 

Being aware of these potential problems will help you go a long way towards preventing them and treating or controlling them once an infestation happens.


Related articles

Best fungicide for treating roses

How to treat black spot on roses and help prevent it

Common rose problems and diseases to look out for

Why is my rose wilting? – answered

Treating roses with yellow leaves

Image credits – Shutterstock.com

Last update on 2020-10-25 at 22:22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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