Home Rose Care Pests

Identify And Deal With Rose Pests

When we say "Rose Pests," we're not necessarily talking about those pesky visitors like your husband, kids, or the neighbors dog who come trapsing up the path to interrupt right when you're deep in the middle of your garden, basking in the sanctuary of blossoms.

No, what we're really referring to are those little bitty black bugs that mar your treasured blooms or the funny looking crust that showed up a couple weeks ago. Some of these rose pests are no more than an annoyance, while others can literally kill your plant. So it's a good thing to be able identify and handle these rose pests when they're encountered. Most pests require only an insecticide spray to handle, so if caught early, you should have no trouble controlling and even eradicating these little invaders. On the other hand, we would also like to find you some organic solutions as it's good to think about the environment. We'll add those as we can.

So use the list below to determine which rose pest you're dealing with and how to handle it.



It's great that aphids are easy to control, otherwise they might be more formidable rose pests for the gardener. These little green/brown insects swarm (colonize) over plants, sucking the sap from them. They are 1/8-inch long and are also known as plant lice. In addition to green or brown, they can also be red or black. Mostly seen in spring or early summer, they damage new shoots by attacking them in large numbers. They can stunt or slow plant growth and deform leaves.

Ladybugs (or ladybirds) are an aphid's natural predator, helping to keep these rose pests populations under control. Also, a dish soap and water solution is effective in ridding this pesky insect from your roses.

Beetle Family

Fuller Rose Beetle

Fuller Rose Beetle

The Fuller Rose Beetle is a gray-brown beetle that does most of its leaf-chewing damage during the larval stage. You can pick them off as an immediate solution, or use insecticide for more intense control of these rose pests.

Metallic Flea-Beetles

Metallic Flea Beetle

These little guys are talented jumpers, as the name implies. They are small, metallic and chew irregular shaped holes in young leaves and buds. The holes enlarge as the leaves grow. Insecticide is your solution.


Rose Chafer

Rose Chafer Beetle

Common to North America, these beetles emerge in late May to June and congregate/feed upon leaves, buds and fruits of roses. It is spiny-legged and has a grayish-brown cast. You'll need an insecticide to eliminate these rose pests.


Japanese Beetle

Japanese Beetle

The Japanese Beetle is a shiny copper and green insect that eats holes in roses, especially lighter colored roses. They are most prominent in midsummer. Treat the soil around plants to eliminate the grubs.

Spotted Cucumber Beetle

Spotted Cucumber Beetle

This insect is yellow with 12 dark spots on its wing covers. You will need to use an insecticide to control them, if you find them on your blooms from time to time. Be aware that they carry bacteria.


Harlequin Bugs

Harlequin Bug

Found mostly in the Southern United States, this bug sucks leaves, leaving behind calico markings and causing wilt. They are brightly colored red and black insects. Insecticides will handle this variety of rose pests.

Tarnished Plant Bug

Tarnished Plant Bug

This little green or brown insect lays eggs along stems and extracts the juice from them. Fortunately, it's not that common, but they can carry disease. If found, use an insecticide to handle.

Cane Borer

Cane Borer

Now here, when we say "boring" insects, we're not talking about bugs who fall asleep at parties. We're talking about bugs that tunnel into plants and in this case, the cane borer tunnels into canes, under bark, and into new shoots where they eat the stem's pith. You'll notice them first by sudden wilting on new growth tips. Hand-picking is the only control. Seal canes after pruning and use an insecticide as well.



Caterpillars skeletonize leaves or chew holes in them and also bore through buds. They will launch a fine thread and drop off a plant if disturbed. All varieties of these rose pests can be controlled with insecticide.

Leaf Rollers

In spring, these little guys roll up foliage and start chewing, boring their way through leaf and bud. Use an insecticide.


Notice a sudden blackening of buds or young shoots on your roses? It could be the midge, a minute maggot about 1/25 of an inch long that rasps the tender tips of new growth, causing them to blacken and shrivel. Since the larva pupate in the soil, that is where you should begin to control the Midge.


The name nematode may sound kind of cute, but these tiny animals cause swellings on your roots and stunt growth. They will also cause pale green leaves and wilting in mild weather. You're going to need an all-purpose rose spray for these fellows. Make sure the label mentions nematodes to ensure its ability to handle this kind of infestation.

Rose Slugs

This insect is actually a fly in its larval stage. It is yellowish green and eats holes in leaves. Over time it will skeletonize them. You'll need an insecticide to take of the rose slug.


Rose Scale

If you find a crusty white or gray shell sucking sap from your plants, you've got Rose Scale. They're primarily found along stems and branches, but can spread to the stalks of your flowers. By the time that happens, though, your plant would be stunted and spindly with a white, flaky crust on its bark. You'll want to cut out infested areas and apply a dormant lime sulfur spray in early spring. Also, use an insecticide.

Cottony Cushion Scale

This pest doesn't cause much damage per se, but it does produce a sugary-sticky substance called honeydew, which can lead to sooty mould. It infests branches and twigs and is oval-shaped, reddish-brown and has black hairs. The female body encases hundreds of red eggs. Handle this pest with insecticide.

California Red Scale

Less than 1.5 mm across, orange to orange-pink in color, this scale appears frequently in plague numbers. It causes yellowing, leaf fall as well as twig and branch dieback as it infests upper surfaces of foliage. May cause plant death if seriously infested. Use insecticide to control.

Spider Mites

Spider Mite

If you find silvering or dry-looking leaves; if foliage is a dull red or yellow color, you may have spider mites. You may find fine webbing underneath, which is a sure sign of Spider Mites (aka Two Spotted Mites or Red Spider Mites). Sucking the life from the undersides of leaves, they leave their eggs and webbing behind. Eventually, defoliation can result.

It's a good thing these tiny creatures hate water, so hosing or misting your plants frequently will go a long way towards controlling them. If needed, use a rose miticide every three days to curb re-infestation by hatching eggs.



Tiny squirming insects with wings slither between petals to suck juices from the buds of plants, making them appear bruised. Thrips can be nearly invisible, favor white and pastel roses and resemble fine black slivers of wood. You'll need to remove infested buds and use an insecticide to control these pests.

If you want more information on rose pests, diseases, and control measures (including which sprays to use), then you can visit http://www.rosegardeningguru.com.

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