James Mason– Red Rose
Peggy Martin and Her Rose

Rose Pests– bad bugs


Green lady bug? Nope.


Why am I showing holes in the rose petals?


If this picture is too sad– look no further. If you are squeamish– turn back.


This is a bad bug rose post–  a visual introduction to help you identify who might be harming your roses. I'll tell you about my personal experience, and then I'll defer to Nanette Londeree, Connie Hilker, and Baldo Villegas, and their accompanying links, for more details.

The three shots directly above illustrate rose curculio and its damage. The top guy is a cucumber beetle.

I never use pesticides-- their use is far more damaging to the environment than it is to the bugs.




Each morning, and beleive it or not, almost each afternoon during curculio season, I'm on a search and kill mission. At this point, a few still linger– I want them gone so bad. Thankfully these bugs are slow movers, and with concentration it's pretty easy to catch and flatten them between two fingers. They are crunchy, not squishy. You can also carefully scoot them into a can of soapy water or alcohol, but that's too complicated for me.

Damaged buds and blooms should be discarded for they shelter eggs for next year's hatching.


This many curculios, in a small space, is a sure sign of infestation. For two years in a row, almost all my Rugosa Rubra buds were mortally wounded. I cut the shrub to the ground mid-infestation last year (just after this shot was taken). This year my rugosa had a few of the little monsters, but nothing remotely like last year. In the past, I've uprooted a large Nutkana and an even larger Eglantine that had bad invasions. If sizable shrubs come under attack, I figure it's just too risky to spread the madness. Out they have to come.

Click here and here for more information on the rose curculio.




In Washington D. C. I finally saw these fascinatingly beautiful (yet damaging) creatures for the first time.

Connie Hilker at Hartwood Roses, in Fredricksburg, VA  sent the gorgeous images above and writes: Japanese beetles eat flowers and leaves, and they can defoliate a small plant if we let them. To keep their numbers down, you go out in the early morning and knock the beetles into a jar of soapy water or rubbing alcohol. Some of my rose friends squish them by hand– that's a bit too icky for me, however. Don't be tempted by the promises of beetle traps. The traps contain powerful attractants that lure more beetles into your garden than the trap can catch. Those that miss the trap will find your garden instead.




I don't know much about hoplia beetles, but I saw some in Grass Valley recently, and I hear they go for the roses in Sacramento. Jan Hedman kindly sent me the picture above.



Spit-Bugs-on-Rose-Buds-1 Spit bugs are comic relief compared to the baddest bugs. In my garden, they come in early spring and tend to be on just about everything. They might distort growth for a while, but the plants quickly grow out of it. The bubbles are amusing and the bugs are kinda cute, but spit is spit and not too impressive when guests are expected. Water spray, a few days in a row, does a good job. They generally leave in the middle part of the first bloom period.


Salvia Greggii does not escape spit bugs.




I just want you to know, little guy, it's going to be a long time before you find any stamens on that Pilgrim bloom.


Yeah, stamens on singles (5-petal roses) are your favorite diet.

These bug are rampant in my garden this year-- right this minute-- they are everywhere! They move faster than curculios and they are NOT crunchy. It's a matter of being irritated by them-- damage ruins the flower after it blooms, not before.



House-Cricket They so give me the creeps. Almost every bloom on our Soaring Spirits rose fell prey to these travelers from India. Squishing them between flower petals is the only way I can manage with them-- I'm squeamish even looking at the picture. These crickets are not a major problem anywhere else in the garden. Oh I want to finish this post!




Earwigs love stamens too, but they are not a big problem here either.



Tomato-Worm-Damage Such a drama worm-- what a photo op tomato worms are. No guy, it's not a tomato. There are never too many of these green wonders, but they do take some big chunks out of a rose bud.

Thrips and spider mites are other bugs that bother roses, but I don't really have experience with them. Cane borers do damage, by wilting part of the cane they inhabit. Snapping the cane a little past the wilted part seems to be helpful.

PS 8/23/2012-- since writing this post, I've had spider mite issues in my own garden and a client's. First of all the mites are microscopic. It's kind of weird how I finally knew I had them. All the roses kind of gasp and look dry, spidery webs appear here and there and leaves become sort of spotted, brownish, not themselves. I know this sounds too subjective, maybe a reader has a better discription. The remedy can be quite dramatic. Apparently spider mites hate water. Douse, I mean drench the roses and yourself, with water from your trusty hose, and be sure and spray from under the bush, and of coarse from the top and all around. Spray again and again on the first day, and again and again on the next day. Your roses will thank you and you will definitely be able to tell how happy they are to be releived of spider mites. Two sprayings should do the trick.




I don't have a lot to say about aphids. My roses are affected by them, but soldier beetles and lady bugs keep them in check. You'll find out more about them on my GOOD BUGS post.

I've never been so relieved to finally finish a post. Even though I can't stand some of these critters, I do like photographing them, and this post has been a labor of love that I hope is helpful.

I know lady bugs eat aphids, but I rarely see them in action. I found this image, by Isabelle Breguet, on FB last week. Isn't it beautiful? She has more wonderful images on her blog.

Thank you so much to all the contributors to this post !