Rose Aphids


Rose Pests

Even though the most carefully tended rose garden will occasionally have encounters with certain garden pests, this should never discourage you from growing and enjoying the ‘Queen of Flowers”. Unless you are planning to be a rose exhibitor, don’t stress yourself out with too many complicated measures of pest control. Of course, good garden management depends on learning how to prevent plant problems before they start by giving your roses optimum growing conditions including adequate sunlight, proper soil conditions, food, water and by practicing good garden hygiene; disposing of fallen and diseased leaves and buds.

If you are diligent about doing these things your roses should be healthy enough to resist most pests. If you inspect your roses daily (as most rose lovers do anyway) you should be able to catch any pest problems before they get out of hand. I usually just squish the offending bug, or remove the affected foliage or buds. A strong stream of water from your garden hose will also do the job nicely.

The next course of action would be an organic method of control such as insecticidal soap. These are best for obvious reasons, namely the neighborhood environment and you, your family’s and pet’s health. The following is a list of some of the pests you may experience and what methods are available to control them.


Aphids (picture above) are tiny oval insects that are usually light greenish in colour. Appearing in the spring, they particularly love new succulent growth, draining the tasty sap from rapidly growing shoots. It is best to wipe out aphids when you first notice them, as they have incredible reproductive capabilities. A plant can literally be covered with thousands of aphids in a very short time if not dealt with immediately.

I have never had to use any chemicals to control aphids on my roses. They are easy to locate, simply look for them on the new tender shoots and squish them between your fingers. I have taught my children to find them; they love looking for “bugs” and they feel like they are doing their part in keeping our roses looking beautiful and healthy. For those of you that are squeemish about touching bugs, just use your garden hose to spray them off. If you are consistent about doing this every few days you should not experience any problems with aphids in your garden.

You can also use insecticidal soap that you can purchase in any garden store or make your own. Another method to make your roses unpalatable to aphids and other pests is by spraying them with a ½ and ½ solution of Listerine and water. And don’t forget about ladybugs. They are a wonderfully beneficial insect for your garden, and aphids are one of their favorite meals.

If you see signs of chewing on your rose blooms and young leaves, you may have earwigs. They are a large and soft-bodied yellowish-brown insect with a pair of curved pincers. They hide during the day and come out at night to climb into your rose blooms and feed. A chemical soil drench around your rose should break the breeding cycle of this pesky insect.

Cane Borers

Cane Borers are nasty little insects that drill holes into the end of your rose canes, causing them to eventually die. The most effective method of control is to seal the end of all your canes with Elmer’s glue. If you also add food coloring to the glue, you will be able to keep track of which canes you have sealed.


Inchworms are tiny caterpillars that infest your rose buds and young leaves in the spring. Diligent hand picking is the best method of controlling them.

Japanese Beetles

A Japanese beetle infestation can be quite distressing as they have an insatiable hunger for rose blooms and sometimes even foliage. Preferring the lighter colored and stronger scented varieties, these pests lay eggs on your lawn and around your roses and return year after year. You can use a neem-based product to get rid of them or you can position a bowl filled with dish soap and water under the rose and tap lightly. They should fall out and drown in the solution. This procedure seems to be most effective in the morning or evening when the beetles are resting. MORE>>

Leaf-Cutter Bees

If you happen to see small, perfectly circular holes cut into the foliage of your rose, you can be certain that the Leaf-Cutter Bee has visited. They usually seem to prefer the dull leaves of old garden roses to the modern hybrids. The bee uses the leaf cuttings to build its nest. Chemical controls are not necessary as they do not harm the plant and are rarely more than a minor nuisance.


Leafhoppers are very small, green or yellow insects that jump from the plant when disturbed. If you see a pale spotting on the tops of your leaves you may have leafhoppers. Spray the leaves with an insecticide when activity is seen.

Pear Slugs

Pear slugs are slimy, dark green and about ½ inch long. They are the larvae of the sawfly. You will most often find them in the spring eating holes in your rose leaves from the undersides. Pear slugs can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time, so act quickly. The best way to rid your roses of pear slugs is to squish them between your fingers. Insecticidal soap will also work very well.


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