Green thumbs up
...to the queen of flowers, the rose.
Green thumbs down
....to the fact that we must share the queen with so many pest-y
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Staying ahead of rose pest insects
Look close early in the year, don't wait for the damage to
Here's what to look for, using 'Knockout' roses as an example.
(The foliage is red in the following photos because the roses are
just leafing out after their annual cutback.)
Right: Aphids are in place and beginning to multiply. The
first generation (including the larger insect in this cozy family
shot) has produced generation number two by parthenogenesis --
females giving birth, no males needed.
The escalation of this and many other insect pests is geometric
from here on out so if you want to control them:
• knock them off as they first appear; use forceful water,
• or stop their breathing with a coating of soapy water or
• or apply an insecticide that poisons them when they eat it along
with the leaf.
Very helpful I.D. and control information available from
• rose pest insect identification,
• rose pest and disease information, and
• rose insect control options from hand picking
to soaps to bio-rational controls such as releasing natural
Below: Don't say, "Oh, woe is me" if you find pests. Of
course insects have arrived. It's a salad bar where a few weeks ago
the table was bare!
Below: Another new arrival is the rose budworm. It's a moth
caterpillar. Tougher to see as the rose foliage greens up.
Eminently squish-able now.
Various other insects are there, too, such as cankerworms
(below), loopers and leaf tiers. (That's tie-er, as in
they tie the leaves together so they can scrape and eat in safety
between two leaf surfaces.)
Many rose-eating insects are no big deal. Cankerworm, for
instance, may chew a few leaves but won't seriously impact the
rose's performance. Others like the budworm (above), can
be devastating simply because the part of the plant they ruin is
the part we revere -- the tip that bears the flower.
And don't look only at the dark side. Watch
your roses to see if there are beneficial insects moving
in on the bounty. We only had to turn our heads to find some.
Predators such as syrphid flies (the wasp-y looking critter,
below, left) and tachinid flies (below, right) lay
their eggs near or on leaf eaters such as caterpillars and aphids.
Their young emerge hungry, and prey is right there. Although
predatory insects won't eat or kill all leaf-eaters in an area they
can do a lot for you and are there on a 24-7 basis. Be careful not
to spray these "good guy" insects with soap or oil, and don't use
systemic insecticides ("lasts a month"), which poison even the
pollen and nectar that these beneficials eat in certain life
It's always best to end on a positive note, right? There
is this: No cane borer attacked the cut ends of canes, that we
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