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Bugs Eating Rose Leaves? [Best Treatment & Prevent Measures]

Having a Rose plant means no leisure as a list of bugs is waiting to feast on the broad serrated leaves and deform them by voracious eating.

Generally, the infestation of bugs like Rose slugs, Japanese beetles, Leafcutter bees, and Sawflies becomes vigorous in the Rose during the early or late summer. So apply recommended solutions to kill the bugs and prevent them from using pesticides with good care. 

As soon as spring hits, the Rose Garden sees new blooms along with some bad guys. So read the article to know about the pests and their preventive measures.

What Eats Rose Leaves?

To guess the bug affecting the Rose plant is daunting, as more than 150 species of flowering shrubs falling under the Rose genus have a list behind them.

However, the most common and the most damaging among all leaf-eating bugs have been sorted with their appearance and damage below.

1. Caterpillars

Often represented as the larvae of moths and butterflies, caterpillars are not deadly to your Rose plant but pose a threat in deforming the leaves.

The green worms have a chewing habit and hide under the leaves of the Rose to give irregularly shaped holes and areas on the leaf blades.

Caterpillars do not affect the growth of the Rose plant, but if the infestation of bugs is beyond control, the leaves lose their vigor and defoliate by continuous eating.

Some common bugs noticed eating the Rose leaves are corn earworms, eastern tent caterpillars, stinging Rose caterpillars, and common emerald caterpillars.

2. Leafcutter Bees

Roaming around as a solitary species, the leafcutter bees signify their presence through oval or circular holes in the foliage’s edge.

The leafcutter bees are tiny, blackish to metallic purple or green-colored flying bugs measuring about 1/2 inch long.

Many have a misconception of the leafcutter being harmful, but that is the opposite, as it is an essential pollinator for the Rose plant.

Since the damage caused by the leafcutter is minimal, better not to remove it and promote pollination.

3. Rose Slug

Due to the larval structure, the Rose slug is often compared with caterpillars, but that’s a total misunderstanding.

The Rose slug is the larvae of Sawflies that grow continually to feed on the foliage of Roses, mainly the Knock Out Roses, giving it a window pane appearance with white spots.
A bug is siting over the leaf of roses
Rose slug is the larvae form of Sawfly.

The damage becomes severe if the infestation reaches beyond the control as Rose slugs feed heavily on the foliage and turn them brown.

You can distinguish the bug by noticing the smooth yellowish-brown heads and yellowish-green bodies underside the leaves.

Also, the slugs are night feeders active during May and June.

4. Japanese Beetles

Skeletonized leaves are the first and foremost symptom signaling the attack of Japanese beetles if it is during early summer.

The beetles are approximately 1/2 inch long, with a metallic green body, coppery wings and chewable mouthparts.

Meanwhile, the eggs laid on the soil hatches to release grubs that are harmful to the plant as they feed on the roots but become dormant during cold days.

The affecting part of the Japanese beetle is not limited to roots and leaves as they can infest the flowers and buds too.

5. Aphids

The most common pest known to affect a diverse group of species is the aphid that feeds on the sap with its piercing mouth part.

However, among different species, the Rose plant attracts Rose aphids, which signals its appearance from the honeydew substance they excrete while feeding.
A person is showing a group of bugs over the stem of the rose.
You can handpick the aphids or use tweezers to remove them.

Also, you can identify them from their pink to a green soft, pear-shaped body of about 1/8 inches long.

Aphids do not threaten your Rose plant if it is in the initial stage.

However, they reproduce rapidly to outnumber themself, which might hamper plant bloom count and quality.

6. Mites

With mites, you can guess it is the spider mite commonly seen webbing your houseplants and outdoor plants when left neglected for a longer time.

The mites are minutely smaller, with a body measuring about 1/50 inch and a piercing mouth part that feeds on the plant’s sap.

Noticing the mites with bare eyes is difficult, so most gardeners use white paper to rub over the branch and leaf of the Rose plant and then their hands over the paper.

The mites also leave visible webs beneath the leaf surface. Initially, mites form white or yellow patches on the upper surface that turn bronze in severe cases.

In the meantime, leaves fall to the ground prematurely and give a dirty appearance to the plant due to dust accumulation.

7. Thrips

Another winged bug with a yellowish-brown body and fringed feathers that are too tiny to notice with your bare eyes is thrips, ranging to 1/16 inch long.

Thrips are sap-sucking insects that feed on flower petals and leaves to survive, being more active during the early to mid-summer.

Under the effect of thrips, Roses have silvery white to brown-edged petals, and the buds tend to open prematurely.

Mostly the brighter-colored Rose plants, like the white Rose, seem to attract the thrips, making the leaves distort and have yellow dots.

How To Get Rid Of Bugs in Rose?

Bugs do not always indicate pests. They are only called pests when insects threaten the plants, including Roses, by sucking out all the nutrients.

And when they become invasive, immediate treatment should be applied to diminish the number of bugs eating the Rose.

  • Mix four tablespoons of bacillus thuringiensis concentrate with 1 gallon of water and spray over the leaf surface to kill caterpillars.
  • Since leafcutter bees are beneficial, let it stay on the plant, but to protect the blooms, cover it with loose netting.
  • Meanwhile, handpick the slugs and use a water hose over the leaves if the number is minimal, which is similar for aphids too.
  • However, resort to horticultural oil, neem oil and insecticidal soap for excess infestation.
  • Leave out some predatory insects, like ladybugs and wasps, that feed on the larvae and adult beetles.
  • Also, you can prepare a remedy for mites on Roses at home using peppermint soap, neem oil, and Rosemary essential oil in a 1:1:1 ratio.
  • As for the thrips on Roses, use insecticide made from ingredients like imidacloprid or dinotefuran for fast and best results.

How To Prevent Bugs From Eating Rose Leaves?

All you need to do is inspect the Rose plant regularly, as bugs can jump on the leaves and flowers for food. Keep some wise strategies and prevent the bugs from reaching the Rose. 

  • Remove dead or decaying matter from the planting area to stop breeding bugs.
  • Attach 6-inch long sticky traps around the plant growing area and trim off any extending branches to keep the crawling bugs in control.
  • Wash the leaves periodically while watering the plant crown to keep pests at bay.
  • Next, trim off your spent blossoms at a specific interval to keep the plant clean.
  • Leave out some beneficial insects like minute pirate bugs, lacewings, and lady beetles.

From Editorial Team


Approach to naturally controlling the bugs in the Rose garden so that none of the insecticides or pesticide residue remains on the leaves, inviting more new problems.

Look out for any resistant variety of Rose plants, including Moss Rose, that can withstand the stress put on by the pests.