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Past Articles Library | Organic Pest Control | Plant Pests of Roses


Plant Pests of Roses

Boy, once you take the time to plant a beautiful rose garden, you do not want it to be attacked by a swarm of hungry insects.  While not all insects will attack your rose garden, some will just make a meal out your lovely roses.  What to do?  Well, do not panic.  The guide below will explain about the pest and offer an organic treatment for this issue. 


Thrips are tiny, slender insects that are dark-brown to black.  They love to suck on the upper surface of the leaves and the buds as soon as they open.  While it is harder to see the damage on the leaves, the buds can tell the story.  If you notice that when your buds begin to open, they only open partly and turn brown then the chances are you have thrips.  Another way to tell is to cut one of those buds, take it into the house and shake it over white paper.  If you see little black spots then you probably have thrips.

Thrips like it hot and dry and while you cannot control the weather you can increase the number of times you water your rose.  Also, remove any buds and/or leaves that show signs of disease and/or thrips damage. 

Spider Mites

Like the thrips, spider mites also enjoy a hot and dry summer.  They also suck on the leaves but they only feed on the underside.  A telltale sign of this comes from the yellowing, curling and/or drying up of the leaves.  You may also see some webbing around the foliage. 

Believe it or not, spider mites are not insects but there are simple organic treatments that you can use to get rid of this pest.  First, spray off the underside of the leaves often if you feel you have spider mites.  Another approach is to wipe down the leaves with rubbing alcohol.


The symptom of scale can appear in two ways.  One, it can show up as a white, gray or tan crusty substance on the canes of the rose.  This is actually the skeleton of the scale insect.  Another telltale sign is honeydew, which is a sticky secretion of the scale that can be found on the leaves.

If you find either one of these signs on your rose plant, the best solution is to remove the plant material that has the crusty substance or honeydew.  Dispose of in your trash not your composter. 

Sawfly Larvae

Sawfly larvae are easy to spot.  This caterpillar like larvae feed on the rose leaves in the spring.  They are about 1 ¼ inches long and are green with a few black spots.  If you catch them in time, they are easy to control and all you need is your hand.  Simply roll the leaves over and pick them off.  Throw them in a bucket of soapy water.

Rose Gall

The rose gall is a very interesting insect in the fact that the insect causes the rose gall not that rose gall is an insect.  It all starts with a certain wasp that drills into the cane of the rose.  When this happens, it injects a chemical that causes a swelling of the cane or gall.  Into this gall, the wasp will lay her eggs.

The best treatment for this issue is to remove the cane with the gall before the eggs hatch and throw it away.

Rose Weevil

This insect is another small one and is only about ¼ inch long.  It has a long snout that is used for feeding laying eggs in rosebuds.  If you find your rosebuds are looking sick, cut them off and throw them away.  I know this will be painful but it is better to do this then letting this pest take over

Rose Midget

The rose midget is a very small creature that cannot be seen with the naked eye.  The larvae hatch in the soil and make their way up the plant to the growing tips where the rose bud should form.  Once there they just feed on the plant until it is dead. 

At this point in time, there is not treatment.

Rose Chafers

A rose chafer is a grayish beetle that is about ½ long.  They can be found munching on the buds and petals of the rose.  At this point in time, there is no organic treatment.

Pear Slugs

Pear slugs are the grownups of the sawfly larvae.  They are dark green slugs that can be found feeding on the underside of the rose leaf.  The best way to get rid of them is by picking them off and placing them in a bucket of water and soap.


This little insect can be found feeding on the young shoots of the rose in the spring.  They are oval in shape and a light green color.  There are a couple of ways of dealing with this insect.  One, you can simply spray them off the plant.  Two, you can just squish them.  Three, you can release Lady Beetles or four make up your own organic spray.  It is easy to do and only uses two ingredients, which are water and mouth wash.  Mix up the spray so that it is half water and half mouth wash.  Once that is done, apply it to your rose plant and in no time the aphids will be gone. 


Leafhoppers are small green or yellow insects that hop from one plant to another when the plant they are on is disturbed.  At this time, there is no organic treatment.

Leaf-cutter Bees

I would like to start by saying there is no need to treat for this insect problem.  They will only cause small holes in the leaves, which are used by the leaf-cutter bee to build its nest.  While they only attack foliage, they will not kill the plant nor will they attack the bloom. 


If you see large insects that are yellowish-brown and have pinchers then chances are you have earwigs.  But…since these insects come out at night to feed, another way to tell if you have earwig problems is to look at the blooms and leaves.  If you see evidence of chewing on these plant parts then you probably have an earwig problem.

Since they come from the soil, there is no organic control at this time.

Cane Borers

Cane borers are another very small insect.  While you cannot see them, you can see where they have been.  What a cane borer does is it drills holes in the top of the cane.  This will eventually kill the cane.  To prevent this, take a little household glue and mix it with a little food coloring then “paint” it on the ends of the cane.  The food coloring will allow you to see what canes have been treated and what ones need treatment.


An inchworm is another small caterpillar that can be found feeding on the rose buds and tender young growth in the spring.  The best treatment is to handpick the caterpillars off and place in a bucket of soapy water.

Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles love roses but they are picky about the ones they attack.  They prefer the light colored and/or sweet smelling varieties.  What makes them so bad is they lay eggs in your lawn and then return year after year.  To organically get rid of them takes a two prong approach.  First, you must hunt them in the early morning or in the evening.  Second, you will need a bowl of water.  Take the bowl of water and place it under the rose.  Gently shake the rose and the Japanese beetles will fall in the bowl and drown.  Repeat as often as needed to get rid of the beetles. 

Need some other tips to organically treat rose pests?  The best measure is to let Mother Nature take care of the problem herself by releasing beneficial insects into the environment.



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