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12 Damaging Rose Bush Pests: How To Get Rid Of Them and Prevent Them

Roses are some of the most beautiful, rewarding flowers to include in your garden. Unfortunately, they are susceptible to many different rose bush pests. This can be disheartening when caring for your roses. From aphids to mites, pests can damage and discolor your roses before you’re even aware of it.

Rose Bush Pests

I’ve listed 12 of the most common rose bush pests, including how to spot and get rid of them. Keep reading to learn about these pests and how to keep your roses healthy!

1. Aphids

Aphids
Aphids

How to Spot Aphids

Aphids are the most common rose bush pest. They are tiny, soft-bodied insects (only 1/8-inch in size!), so that can make them difficult to spot if you aren’t intentionally looking. Aphids can be yellow, green, black, or pink in color.

Aphids target rosebuds, soft stems, and new leaves for the plant sap inside them. The leaves will appear wilted or curled, while rosebuds will appear wrinkled. Aphids also produce a substance called honeydew that attracts ants and can develop into a mold on the rose leaves.

How to Get Rid of Aphids

A great thing about nature – aphids have natural enemies! Predators, such as ladybugs and wasps, tend to keep aphids under control. If the aphid infestation doesn’t clear up within a week on its own, you can remove aphids by spraying them directly with a garden hose.

2. Japanese Beetles

Japanese Beetles
Japanese Beetles

How to Spot Japanese Beetles

Japanese beetles are one of the most common beetles that feed on roses. These rose bush pests appear in mid-May and stay through August. They are about a half-inch long with a metallic green body and copper head.

They’re easy to spot because they feed during the day on leaves, buds, and blooms. Their signature damage includes large holes in the leaves of your rose bush with only the leaf veins remaining.

How to Get Rid of Japanese Beetles

It takes a little work to get rid of these pesky beetles. One option is to cover your roses with cheesecloth or mesh tulle for a couple of weeks after you spot the first beetle. You can also hand remove the beetles in the morning time, and place them into soapy water.

For a natural repellant, you can spray neem oil on your rose bush upon the first sign of the beetles. Neem oil works against other rose bush pests as well, such as sawflies and aphids.

3. Rose Sawflies

Rose Sawfly
Rose Sawfly

How to Spot Rose Sawflies

Rose sawflies, also known as rose slugs, are the larvae of a fly, even though they look similar to a caterpillar. Sawflies are around 1/2 to 3/4-inch in size and are yellowish-green in color. They feed at night and blend in easily with rose leaves, so they can be difficult to spot.

They feed on the underside of leaves, leaving holes and papery-thin leaves.

How to Get Rid of Rose Sawflies

These rose bush pests can be hand-removed or sprayed off of the leaves with a garden hose. You can also apply Spinosad to both sides of all leaves. This is a soil bacterium that’s toxic to insects. It only lasts about 16 days, so you will need to apply it every week or two throughout the season.

4. Spider Mites

Spider Mites
Spider Mites

How to Spot Mites

Spider mites are extremely tiny rose bush pests that feed on the plant from underneath the leaf. You really need a magnifying lens to spot these guys. They often spin very fine webs on the undersides of leaves. A good way to confirm if you have spider mites is to tap a leaf with a piece of white paper underneath. You should see tiny specs fall onto the piece of paper.

What does their damage look like? Leaves usually turn yellowish or gray. If the infestation is bad enough, the leaves will usually drop off.

How to Get Rid of Mites

There are several beneficial insects, like ladybugs and lacewings, that will naturally feed on spider mites. If they are not present, use a strong stream from your garden hose to knock the mites off. You can also apply insecticidal soap to the affected areas.

5. Thrips

Thrips
Thrips

How to Spot Thrips

Thrips are tiny, brown insects that feed on plant sap in rose petals and leaves. They often cause rosebuds not to open completely and turn yellow. They also leave silvery streaks on rosebuds. Thrips are especially attracted to light-colored blooms.

To spot thrips, you can do the paper test and shake a rosebud over a piece of paper to look for insects. You can also cut a bloom open to look for infestation.

How to Get Rid of Thrips

These are one of the more difficult and disheartening rose bush pests to control because they feed inside the rosebud. The affected rosebuds need to be removed completely if found after infestation. If there are some unaffected rosebuds on the bush, thoroughly apply insecticidal soap or Spinosad to the areas.

6. Leaf-Cutting Bees

Leaf-Cutting Bee
Leaf-Cutting Bee

How to Spot Leaf-Cutting Bees

Leaf-cutting bees look similar to honeybees, but they are fuzzier and mainly black in color. The females usually appear to have a pollen sac on their underside for collecting pollen. They will chew circular sections in rose leaves that they use to line their nests.

How to Get Rid of Leaf-Cutting Bees

This is one rosebush pest that you don’t necessarily want to get rid of! Even though they can damage rose leaves, their benefits outweigh the negatives. Leaf-cutting bees are important pollinators in our environment, so having them around isn’t a bad thing.

7. Fuller Rose Beetle

Fuller's Rose Beetle
Fuller’s Rose Beetle

How to Spot Fuller Rose Beetles

Fuller rose beetles are brown weevils with no wings. They are usually about 3/8-inch in size, and they feed on flowers and leaves during the night. To spot these beetles, look for jagged edges on leaves.

How to Get Rid of Fuller Rose Beetles

These rose bush pests can be picked off by hand, similar to the Japanese beetle. Since these beetles can’t fly, another great prevention method is to trim any stems that touch the ground or a wall. This will help prevent the beetles from being able to crawl onto the bush.

8. Rose Chafer

Rose Chafer
Rose Chafer

How to Spot Rose Chafers

Rose chafers are another type of beetle that damage rose bushes. These beetles look very similar to a Japanese beetle, but they are paler green or tan in color. They look similar to a wasp in flight, and they are known to feed on foliage. You will see them more often in areas with sandy soil since that’s where they prefer to lay eggs.

How to Get Rid of Rose Chafers

Rose chafers can be picked off by hand and put into soapy water. You can also spray them off with the garden hose. To provide a physical barrier from these rose bush pests, put a cheesecloth or mesh tulle over the rose bush until the beetles quit feeding in June.

9. Midges

Midge
Midge

How to Spot Midges

Rose midges are tiny, flying insects that lay eggs inside rose sepals (the green leaves surrounding the bloom). They tend to gravitate toward hybrid-tea roses. Once the eggs hatch, the maggots will feed on the rosebud, potentially damaging and destroying it. The end of the stem will usually curl up and wither.

How to Get Rid of Midges

To get rid of midges, the affected buds need to be removed and destroyed – similar to thrips. You can also apply a systemic insecticide to the base of the rose bush and water it well. This will disburse the insecticide throughout the rose bush. 

Just be mindful that systemic insecticides will also kill beneficial insects hanging out as well, so they should be used very sparingly.

10. Leafhoppers

Leafhopper
Leafhopper

How to Spot Leafhoppers

Rose leafhoppers are rose bush pests that feed on the underside of leaves. The wedge-shaped insects appear in different shades of green, yellow, and brown. They are usually one-fourth to a half-inch in size.

The best way to spot rose leafhoppers is to look for white spots on the leaves where they have been feeding. They also lay eggs in the bark of the rose bush and will leave dark spots on the bark when the eggs hatch. This can leave room for an unwanted fungal infection.

How to Get Rid of Leaf Hoppers

Damsel bugs and assassin bugs will feed on rose leafhoppers naturally. If there is a large infestation, you can apply insecticidal soap. Just be careful not to apply any insecticides that will kill the beneficial insects around the rose bush.

11. Whiteflies

Whiteflies
Whiteflies

How to Spot White Flies

Whiteflies are winged insects with soft bodies. These rose bush pests are tiny, often only 1/12-inch in size. Similar to aphids, whiteflies feed on plant sap, and they also produce the substance known as honeydew that attracts ants.

Look for wilting or yellowing leaves. These pests also scatter during the day, making them easy to spot.

How to Get Rid of Whiteflies

Beneficial insects, like ladybugs and parasitic wasps, feed on whiteflies. For heavy infestations, you can actually vacuum the whiteflies off and seal them off in a plastic bag. Insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils can also be applied to affected areas. Make sure to remove affected areas in case any pests remain.

12. Rose Scale

How to Spot Rose Scale

Rose scale insects appear as white bumps on your rose bush, and they can easily be confused with some sort of disease. The orange insects have a waxy, white shell that’s about 1/16 to 1/4-inch in size. They feed on the cane or stem of the plant, causing damage and decline to the rose bush.

How to Get Rid of Rose Scale

To get rid of these rose bush pests, completely remove any heavily infested areas. You can also apply horticultural oil sprays to infected areas. Healthy rose bushes usually combat rose scales effectively on their own, so make sure to keep your roses adequately watered and fertilized.

Frequently Asked Questions

Rose Bush Pests

1. What should I do when I remove a damaged area?

Make sure to dispose of any damaged areas of the plant properly. Don’t put any affected stems in your compost pile. The best thing to do is burn the plant matter. This will ensure that the rose bush pests don’t invade another nearby plant.

Also, always remember to clean your plant shears thoroughly after removing infected areas. You don’t want to accidentally spread pests to another plant when pruning.

2. Is it okay to use chemical-based solutions on rose bush pests?

While chemical-based insecticides can be quite effective at removing difficult pests, you also take the risk of eradicating the beneficial insects that hang out around your rose bush. Having beneficial insects is the best way to get rid of most pesky insects and larvae naturally.

Always try to remove infestations naturally first, then opt for insecticides for heavy infestations.

3. Are there any companion plants that help with rose bush pests?

Companion plants are a great natural way to control pests! Scented geraniums, parsley, and thyme are all good for helping deter Japanese beetles from taking over. Marigolds are also a great choice for helping ward off most rose bush pests.

Perennials like yarrow and Russian sage attract beneficial insects to help control aphids and whiteflies.

Wrapping Up Common Rose Bush Pests

From beetles and aphids to thrips and whiteflies, finding pests on your rose bushes is never fun. Fortunately, you can prevent and get rid of them with a little effort! You can save your rose bush and welcome in healthy blooms in no time with some of the tips mentioned above.

What are your different experiences with removing rose bush pests? Let us know in the comments below!

To read and learn more about rose bushes, visit our rose bush section!