4 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Aphids on Roses

Aphids, specifically rose aphids, can damage your beautiful roses by feeding on the sap of the plant. Use these four remedies to get rid of them quickly.

How to Get Rid of Aphids

1. Attract or Buy Ladybugs
Ladybugs love to feed on aphids. If you aren’t able to attract any native species then you can buy live ladybugs online. Sprinkle these beneficial insects around the rose bush.

2. Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth
This natural powder will kill aphids by piercing the bug’s exoskeleton. Sprinkle some food-grade diatomaceous earth around the base of the plant and the underside of leaves.

3. Spray with Diluted White Oil
White oil can kill aphids by blocking their breathing pores. To make white oil, pour two cups of vegetable oil and half a cup of actual soap into a jar and give it a good shake.

4. Spray with Dish Soap Solution
Mix two drops of dish soap with a liter of water. Spray the dish soap solution thoroughly on the rose bush. Be sure to use organic soap and not detergent soap.

Note: the soap may damage the bush if the solution is too concentrated. For method #3 and #4, test the white oil solution or dish soap solution on one or two leaves to make sure the concentration isn’t strong for the rose bush.

Also, you may want to only use method #3 and #4 when it isn’t too hot or sunny outside. These methods may cause leaf scorches if the weather is too hot.

Other Pest Control Guides

  • How To Get Rid Of Cockroaches
  • How To Get Rid Of Spider Mites
  • How To Get Rid Of Grasshoppers

Sam Choan is the Founder of Organic Lesson. He started this site to share tips on using natural remedies at home when such options are available.

Aphids On Roses: Controlling Aphids On Roses

Aphids like to visit our plants and rose bushes every year and can form a major attack on them fairly quickly. The aphids that attack rose bushes are usually either Macrosiphum rosae (Rose aphid) or Macrosiphum euphorbiae (Potato aphid), which attacks many other flowering plants as well. Controlling aphids on roses is well worth the effort to keep beautiful roses.

How to Get Rid of Aphids on Roses

In light cases, aphids on roses can be picked off by hand and squished or sometimes a quick tapping of the bloom or foliage will knock them to the ground. Once on the ground, they will be easier prey for the garden good guy insects.

Also in the lighter cases of aphids on rose bushes, I have had some success with the strong water spray method. Using a hose end water sprayer, spray the foliage and blooms down well. The spray of water will need to be fairly strong so as to knock the aphids off but not so strong that it defoliates the rose bush or plant – nor would one want to damage the blooms with too hard a water spray. This may need to be continued for several days to keep the aphids off the plants and/or bushes.

Aphids are big nitrogen feeders, thus another way to help control aphids on roses is to use slow or time- release (urea based) nitrogen fertilizers. Caring for roses with aphids like this means there is not a big push of nitrogen to the plants or bushes right after feeding them, which the aphids find most attractive for their reproduction. Most organic fertilizers will fit into the time-release category.

Lady beetles or ladybugs, their larvae in particular, and green lacewings and their larvae is another way how to get rid of aphids on roses; however, they can take some time to gain control. If under a significant attack, this method will likely not give the desired results quickly enough.

The last straw option, as I call it, is to break out an insecticide and spray the rose bushes and/or plants. Here is a listing of some of the insecticides I have used with good results at gaining control:

(This listing is alphabetical and not in order of preference.)

  • Acephate (Orethene) – has systemic activity, thus it will move through the foliage of the plant and reach those aphids that are hidden within and beneath the foliage.
  • Fertilome Rose Spray – This product contains Diazinon and Daconil to control both sucking and chewing insects.
  • Merit® 75W – a higher initial cost option but very effective. The recommended application rate for rose bushes is one teaspoon per 10 gallons applied every other week, thus a little goes a long way.
  • Ortho® Rose Pride® Insect Killer
  • Safer Insecticidal Soap

Be aware, most of these last straw insecticide options will kill the garden good guy insects as well and have the potential of opening up your rose bushes and plants to attack from other harmful insects later on.

How to Care for Roses

Roses have the reputation of suffering greatly from pests and diseases. However, a regular program of prevention backed up with prompt treatment of any incipient infestations will keep your roses healthy year-round.

Start by keeping your rose garden meticulously clean. Remove weak, diseased, or dead stems by pruning 1 inch below the damaged section into healthy tissue. Remove fallen petals and leaves without delay. Don’t allow weeds to grow; they may harbor insects and disease. Cultivate the soil regularly to expose insect and diseases to the sun. Most insects can be removed with a spray of water or by shaking the bush over a basin of soapy water. Diseases that can’t be eliminated by pruning can be controlled by applying appropriate pesticides.


Keeping your rose garden clean helps ensure healthy roses.

Control black spot by planning ahead. Black spot, which marks leaves with black spots and then kills them, can spread up the plant and cause complete defoliation. Its damage is not pretty. But it can be avoided. Buy disease-resistant roses, including many of the landscape roses, polyantha roses such as The Fairy, and even disease-resistant hybrid tea roses like Olympiad.
Sprays with baking soda can prevent black spot infection. Simply mix 2 teaspooons baking soda in 2 quarts water with 1/2 teaspoon corn oil. Shake well, put in a sprayer, and go to work. Even disease-resistant shrub roses can benefit from this in extra-humid or wet weather. Rake up and destroy any leaves infested with black spot. This helps eliminate spores that would otherwise reinfect healthy leaves.
In our final section, we’ll talk about roses that are resistant to most plant diseases.

Want more information about roses? Visit these links:

  • Rose Gardens: Learn all you need to know to plan, plant and care for your rose garden.
  • Tips For Growing Roses: Check out this article for invaluable rose-growing advice, inlcuding tips for disease and pest protection.
  • Gardening: We answer all of your general gardening questions in this section.

Getting rid of aphids on roses

Of all the pests and diseases that affect roses, aphids seem to be the most common. They will be found underneath leaves but also clustered around buds and flowers. Aphids can damage buds so that they fail to develop and they suck the sap out of young shoots to the degree that the foliage becomes wilted and unhealthy looking. They leave behind a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew that may turn black and ugly if infected with sooty mould.

Aphids are usually green but can also be black, orange, or shades of brown. The green aphids typically found on roses are usually called greenfly.

It is best to wipe out aphids when you first notice them, as they have incredible reproductive capabilities. A plant can literally be covered with thousands of aphids in a very short time if not dealt with quickly.

The easiest way to handle these pests on roses is to be diligent from the beginning of the rose’s growing cycle and check your roses regularly. If you see any of the offending bugs you can just squash them with your fingers.

You can knock them off a plant with a strong jet of water from your garden hose, or you can spray them with soapy water. If you do use soap however, apply it on a cooler day and wash it off after about 15 minutes or it may damage the plant. The soap helps wash off sooty mould, too.

Ladybirds and their larvae, as well as lacewing larvae and hover-fly larvae, love feeding on aphids so encourage these into the garden. Try planting some dwarf lavender under the rose trees as they tend to attract their natural predators, such as ladybirds. Small birds, especially blue tits, also eat large numbers.

For chemical control there are a large number of insecticides available here at Henry Street Garden Centre. We recommend using Roseclear Ultra which will control fungal diseases such as blackspot and mildew as well. Alternatively try Westland Resolva Bug Killer or a good organic option is Bayer Organic Bug Free. All these insecticides will only kill selected insects and will not harm beneficial bees and ladybirds.

If you need help with pest control and in finding the best product then our garden experts will be more than happy to help you in our store.

Aphids


Rose Aphids are small green, brown or pink sap sucking insects which are approximately 2.5mm long. They appear in clusters and can be winged or wingless. Aphids infest the soft tips of new growth, leaves and flower buds and can cause deformed flowers, the wilting of shoots and may even defoliate the plant if left untreated. They usually appear during Spring and Summer and can build up their numbers very quickly due to their prolific breeding. During the warmer months Aphids produce live young that develop into adults within weeks mulitplying the colony seemingly overnight. Rose aphids will only inhabit roses and will not attack other plants in your garden.

Treatment

At the first sign of Aphids, use a hose to spray the affected rose making sure you spray above and below the leaves. Aphids hate water and will soon move on.
Remove Aphids by hand. Rub your fingers up and down the buds to squash and remove them.
Encourage natural predators to the Aphid, such as: Hover fly larvae, ladybirds, lacewings, parasitic wasps and red and blue beetles.
It may be necessary to spray roses with an insecticide or Eco Oil. Remember that the aphids also lay eggs on the plant and a repeat spray may be necessary a couple of weeks after the first. Please use chemicals sparingly as they also kill the good insects and natural predators as well as the one you are trying to get rid of – always look for a natural alternative before using chemicals! Aphids have a short life cycle, having many gererations in one year, therefore they can become immune to a certain chemicals if used too often, try changing sprays with different active ingrients for best results.
Try using a garlic or chilli spray. Take two teaspoons of crushed garlic or chilli and put into 500mls of water. Let this sit for a couple of days so the water is very potent. Strain and spray onto the plants. Although this home remedy is highly effective it will need to be repeated each week for a couple of weeks or after it has rained.
If you do know you will have aphid troubles then please consider companion planting. Aphids dislike garlic, chives, mint and lavender. Roses grown with companion plants are much less prone to aphid attacks.
Important: signs and symptoms will vary significantly between varieties, even within similar categories. The information provided here is a basic summery of the most common affects and will not always be applicable to all rose varieties.

Roses are one of the most popular perennial landscape plants. They thrive in warm summers, frequent rainfall, and moderate winters. Unfortunately, ample rainfall and warm summers are also favorable conditions for the growth of pests. The most common diseases that affect the growth of rose plants are aphids, black spots, powdery mildew and rose rust. My rose bushes are afflicted by aphids nearly every year. And although I regularly spray my garden with insecticides, aphids seem to always find their way back into my garden. So what exactly are aphids, and how can we get rid of them? Keep reading to find out!

Aphids are tiny, soft-bodied insects that appear in a wide range of colors, ranging from yellow to light-green, pink, red, brown and even black. Most species of aphids have a woolly exterior coating, an elongated pear-shaped body with a pair of long antennae and a pair of exhaust pipe-like structures called cornicles protruding from the hind part of their body.

Aphids prefer to attach to young, succulent shoots and feed on plant phloem. Phloem is plant tissue made up of specialized cells that transport food from the leaves to the rest of the plant. And aphids use a specially adapted mouthpart called stylets to pierce the plant tissues and reach deep into regions where the phloem is located. They feed on the sap and assimilate the soluble organic nutrients present in it.

Aphid reproduction

Unlike other insects, aphids have a unique way to increase their numbers and colony size. Their reproduction shuttles between asexual and sexual phases and is controlled by seasonal changes. Once the spring arrives, fertilized overwintering aphid eggs hatch into wingless females, attach themselves to a host plant, and feed on its sap for sustenance. These wingless female aphids, after attaining maturity, reproduce asexually to give birth to young female aphids. This asexual reproductive phase continues throughout summer resulting in the formation of a huge aphid colony of aphids from a single female aphid. At the end of summer, aphids switch into a sexual mode of reproduction, which begins by giving birth to both male and female aphids. The male aphids are winged insects that mate with female aphids and produce several hundreds of fertilized overwintering eggs. These overwintering eggs stay in the soil and hatch after the winter season ends. The male aphids then fly to a new plant in search of food carrying several young wingless females with them and deposit themselves and their female companions on healthy young plants to repeat the growth cycle.

Impacts of an aphid infestation

As the aphid colony increases in size, the health of the host plant starts to deteriorate rapidly. Aphid infected flowers and fruits become distorted. Leaves infected with aphids turn yellow and begin to wilt or curl. Aphids also excrete a sugary liquid called “honeydew”, which sticks to the plant and attracts ants. On top of also encouraging the growth of a sooty mold, which makes the plant shoots appear black and sooty. And the stressed plant is also prone to several secondary infections and may eventually die if the aphid problem isn’t treated in a timely manner.

How to get rid of aphids on roses: control & preventative measures

  • Prune infested plant shoots: Start with a simple approach. Cut off the branches showing signs of an aphid infestation (like wilted and curled leaves). When cutting the branches, make sure that the infected branch does not land on an adjoining healthy branch or a nearby healthy plant because you do not want to transfer the aphids to new host plants. Carefully discard the cut portions of the plant in a yard waste collection bag. And store the bag as far away from your plants as you can.
  • Water jet: Spray the shoots of your roses with a jet of cold water to dislodge the aphids from the infected plants. Repeat the process every few days to remove the last traces of aphids from your rose plants. Focus on the underside of leaves because aphids tend to hide in those places. It is recommended to use this strategy in the mornings, so as to allow enough time for the leaves to dry throughout the day, because if left moist overnight, leaves may develop fungus.
  • Dust with flour: Dust your rose plant with a generous amount of flour. Even though aphids ingest the flour, they cannot digest it. Undigested flour clogs their digestive system and causes death. This approach is especially useful when the rose bush is young and cannot withstand the force of a powerful jet of water. Dusting with flour may also be used against aphids when the infestation occurs on flower buds and young shoots.
  • Mild dish soap solution: Spray the leaves of your roses with a mild dish soap solution. Apply once every 2 to 3 days and continue this practice for at least 2 weeks. Alternatively, you may choose to wipe the leaves with the solution instead of spraying it on.
  • Insecticidal soap: People also often use diluted insecticidal soap solutions to spray on their rose plants to get rid of aphids. Usually, the labels of such products claim that they do not harm beneficial insects. Well, the fact is that insecticidal soaps, once used in a garden, affect all insect species alike. So, refrain from using this option for milder infestations that can be treated using other methods.
  • Introduce natural predators: Ladybugs, green or brown lacewings, blister beetles, soldier beetles, damsel bugs, midges, and hoverflies are all-natural aphid predators. You can, therefore, purchase a small bag of these beneficial insects and introduce them to your aphid infested rose garden. They will rapidly devour the aphid colonies on your rose plants effectively getting rid of aphids on roses and leaving your plants healthy and thriving.
  • Kill overwintering eggs: Spray Neem oil, horticultural oils or other environmentally friendly oils on the soil in your garden during the fall season. This will help eliminate the overwintering eggs of aphids.
  • Companion planting: If you do not have an aphid infestation on your rose bushes currently but want to prevent a possible aphid infestation in the future then a good preventive strategy is to plant catnip, garlic, or chives near your rose bush to deter aphids. This approach of growing certain plants in close proximity to other plants that either repel pests or attract pollinators is called companion planting.

You could apply any of these aphid infestation prevention and control strategies depending on the needs of your garden and the level of the aphid infestation. For serious and recurring infestations, either uses a combination of these strategies or seek help from a professional pest control company.

Getting Rid of Aphids on Roses

Question: Aphids on My Roses

August 2, 2007

Aphids are invading my roses, anything organic that I can use? Tips from the ThriftyFun community.

Three Ideas from Ellen

Try washing them off with the garden hose first. A few high-pressure bursts of water will dislodge most of them. You can support the stems with your hand while spraying if you’re worried about them breaking. You may need to spray them every other day for awhile to eliminate them. Advertisement

Otherwise, use a safe, commercial insecticidal soap or make your own with 1 tbsp liquid dish soap and two cups of water.

Strong smelling roots and spices such as garlic, onions, horseradish, ginger, rhubarb leaves, cayenne and other hot peppers, are all known to repel insects. To add any one (or all) of these to your spray, chop them finely and put them into a glass jar. Add 2 cups of boiling water, cover tightly and let everything stand over night. The next day, strain off the liquid and add your dish soap. Freeze any leftover mix to use the next time.

Good Luck!
Ellen

Soap

This is the simplest one to fix. Mix soap, not detergent, with water and mix it up. Spay over roses and aphids are history. Dish soap is just fine.

By Bev

Removing Them

I have been pulling aphids (squishing) them with gloves every spring for years. I do use a soap solution to “drown” Japanese Beetles, which appear on roses (and other plants) later in the season. The beetles are weak in the mornings, and you can push them into a cup of soapy water. Advertisement

By Kayla

Plant Onions Near Roses

My mother used to work as a secretary at Ohio State University in the botany department. She once heard that planting onions around roses keep aphids away. She had a miniature rose bush and placed a pot of chives (onion family) near it and the aphids left, never to return! The professors gave her a good-natured teasing about that one, but it sure worked!

By Margie

Rubbing Alcohol

I know of two methods that both work well. One is ladybugs, they eat aphids. The other is rubbing alcohol. Now if it’s the entire plant you’ll want to dilute it and put the mixture in a spray bottle but if it’s for just a few leaves on a plant you can dab a cotton ball in the rubbing alcohol and swab the leaves.

By Michelle

Answers

August 2, 20070 found this helpful

You can buy lady bugs at most garden centers. They come in little containers and when you open it you have hundreds of them flying around.

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I don’t know how expensive they are…Not very, I used to get them for a pre school treat when I was still working Reply Was this helpful? June 26, 20090 found this helpful

I’ve thought of the ladybugs, but have only seen them in groups of 1,500. Imagine that many bugs in your yard! Eeks. I might try the soap route next.

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How do you control aphid attacks on a rose bush? Here’s the scene!

It’s springtime and after a long weekend, coffee in hand you visit your heirloom rose bush collection. All your eyes see are the flower buds of your beautiful roses covered with aphids, including the Knock Out roses.

It is not in a small area or in small numbers but overnight it appears the entire aphid population attacked your rose garden.

You know if this aphid infestation is not dealt with, the sap-sucking pest, feasting on the plant juice of new growth, flower buds and rose stems will soon become:

  • Distorted and crippled flowers
  • Leaves and stems get covered with sooty mold as the aphids excrete a sweet sticky substance called honeydew all over even the undersides of leaves.
  • A plant that attracts ants which protect and farm aphids
  • Gnarled and curled leaves
  • An entire rose bush plant with less vigor

The first questions many new to battling aphid attacks are:

  • Where do you start in the control of rose aphids?
  • What chemical or natural sprays will get rid of the aphids?
  • What natural enemies will eat aphids lunching on the rose bushes?
  • Mostly, how to kill aphids on roses?

Before you grab the killing sprayer, let’s take a moment for some education.

What Species Of Aphid Bugs That Eat Roses?

First, there are various species of aphids (100’s) which attack all kinds of plants.

  • Oleander Aphids
  • Apple Aphid
  • Green Peach Aphid

However, there are a couple of species which fancy rose bushes.

The two “rose aphid” insects are the:

  • Macrosiphum rosae (Rose aphid)
  • Macrosiphum euphorbiae (Potato aphid)

When Do Aphids Come Out And When Do You Start Spraying For Aphids?

Here’s a “Master Gardener” tip: Nature gives aphids a “feeding” head start every spring.

When temperatures start to reach 50° degrees Fahrenheit, these insects “come out” and begin to hatch.

The warm spring weather arrives and new growth begins to emerge, the plant juices start flowing, the live young begin feeding, and the population starts to increase reaching their peak in early summer.

Predators like Aphid lions and cute, voracious Ladybugs along with others do not begin to hatch until temperatures average 60° degrees Fahrenheit.

This allows populations a solid 10 to 14 days to become established before the beneficial “bugs” can begin their work.

Don’t wait until the garden is full of insects. During this 10 to 14 day period apply sprays to keep the insects in check and keep the colony from growing too large.

Holding the pest in check until the predators get going, helps maintain an even balance.

This reduces the need for spraying. Plus, the sprays will not wipe out the pest or harm beneficial insects.

  • How To Control Thrips In Gardens
  • When Should A Pesticide Be Applied To Control A Pest?

How To Get Rid Of These Pests

Many home gardeners start their insect control by pulling out the garden hose and hit the new colony of young aphids feeding on the new growth with a strong water spray.

While this home remedy of blasting the colony with water works for starters with many types of plants, we don’t recommend that approach with roses.

When these conditions come together: Water + Moisture + Rose Leaves all come together they add up to Powdery Mildew or Black Spot.

Instead of getting the entire plant wet, why not opt for one of the natural spray solutions.

What Chemical Or Natural Sprays To Use For Rose Aphids?

Both chemical and natural spray options will work in controlling these insects but the best insecticide for roses will depend on a few things which we’ll dive into below.

However, we always want to exhaust all the options to reduce and control white aphids populations on roses organically before pulling out synthetic chemicals like Malathion, Acephate (Orethene), Merit® 75W and others.

To answer your question, “how do I protect my roses from bugs?” take a look at these sprays.

Natural homemade spray for roses include:

  • Insecticidal soap solution
  • Liquid Dish Soap Spray
  • Neem Oil
  • Horticultural Oils
  • Rubbing alcohol

Insecticidal Soap

This insect killing soap is not a hand-washing dish soap or detergent.

A true soap like “Castile soap” contains fatty acids. These acid dissolve or remove the cell membranes and the natural waxy protective coatings of soft-bodied insects causing death from dehydration and excess water loss.

These insect soaps can be a home remedy or purchased ready-made. Here’s our recipe for insecticidal soap or buy the Safer soap band.

Liquid Soap Solution Spray

This spray is a simple homemade solution fine for use on small outbreaks.

Two ingredients are all that is required:

  • Water
  • Dish soap – like pure liquid castile soap, without any additives (like chemicals, moisturizer or fragrance)

Follow these steps:

  • Use a sprayer or small clean spray bottle
  • In one quart of water mix in 1 tablespoon of soap. For a one-gallon spray solution add 4 to 5 tablespoons to a gallon of water.
  • Mix thoroughly and use immediately.

For best results, evenly coat infected plants including the underside of leaves. The insects need to come in contact with the soap-spray to be effective.

Neem Oil

Neem oil is one of our favorite natural pest control options for aphids, scale insects, spider mites, mealybugs and a host of other garden insects.

The oil has a low toxicity for animals and humans along with being a powerful deterrent to unwanted insects.

Neem oil is a useful natural insecticide against soft-bodied insects, but it also interferes with the feeding activities of larger, tougher insects such as beetles.

Though this article is focused on controlling white aphids on rose bushes, Japanese beetles and other pest attack roses as well.

More on Using Natural Neem Insecticide To Control Scale, Aphids, and More

Horticultural Oils

In general, use horticultural oils as your last option for controlling these pests.

Oil sprays use to be heavy. Today, these horticultural oils are refined and “lightweight.”

Most of these oils are safe for use on many plants throughout the growing season as new colonies of pests appear.

The oil is applied, dries up and is non-toxic to plants, but very effective in pest control.

The phrase “dormant spray” refers to the timing of when to use the oil and not the type of oil utilized.

Always follow the application directions on the insecticide label.

Look for products with these “labeled terms”:

  • Dormant oil spray
  • Volck oil
  • Dormant spray
  • All seasons spray oil
  • Summer oil

For more read our article: What Is Horticultural Oil And How To Use It In Gardens

A cotton swab and 70% rubbing alcohol has long been a home remedy for controlling insects.

Take a cotton ball swab dipped in rubbing alcohol, and dab it directly on the insects to kill them.

To make a rubbing alcohol pest spray mix 1/4 cup of alcohol with 1 cup of water.

Place the solution in a small, clean spray bottle and spray the insects on infected plants.

NOTE: Beware that the leaves on some plants may burn. To treat roses apply on cloudy days.

WARNING: Can You Make A Homemade Spray To Get Rid Of Aphids With Vinegar? Yes! But Don’t

If you search the web you’ll find the “recommendation” of mixing vinegar and water in a spray bottle to kill aphids.

The mixture will kill the insects on contact but will also do some damage to your roses and other plants sprayed.

If you want to kill weeds use the vinegar spray but NOT on your roses.

What Natural Predator Insects Will Kill or Eat Aphids Attacking My Roses?

Many people when they hear the word “bug” assume all bugs or insects are bad. Not True!

There are lots of many good insects (beneficials) waiting for the opportunity to rid your garden of “bug” and lunch on some pests.

Timing is important when using “natural enemies” if the food source is not available they will leave and hunt elsewhere or die for lack of food.

A few natural predators for controlling these bad insects include:

  • Ladybugs or Lady beetles
  • Green Lacewings
  • Hoverfly
  • Parasitic Wasps

Ladybugs or Lady beetles

The cute little-spotted lady beetles (ladybug) are voracious insect predators and the best-known enemy of aphids.

Both larvae and adults actively prowl gardens during the day hunting for soft-bodied “true bug.”

Once spotted, the cute ladybug uses its powerful jaws to grasp and consume their prey.

In fact, egg-laying adults can gobble up two hundred of these insects per day.

How To Use Lady Bug In Gardens

Green Lacewings

The green lacewing earned the name “aphid lions” because of their aggressive voracious appetite.

After hatching, the lacewing larvae begin searching for garden pests to consume with a favorite delicacy – aphids.

These “eating machines”, are constantly hunting for the next meal.

If they encounter a slow-moving, soft-bodied insect or their eggs – they will eat it.

Learn To Use Green Lacewings For Gardens Pest Control

Hoverfly

Hoverflies larvae often are found in the midst of a colony devouring their prey.

The larvae love soft-bodied pests like thrips, aphids and plant scale. Hoverflies are also excellent pollinators.

The hoverfly takes second place to the lady beetle or ladybug with their capability of wiping out large numbers of aphids.

Learn Natural Control With Beneficial Hoverflies

Parasitic Wasps

Parasitic wasps may be tiny but are important natural control agents.

These wasps, live a portion of their lives inside other insects as parasites. They vary in color and size but are usually black or brown and small to medium in size.

In general, parasitic wasps do not sting and provide natural biological control of other insects.

The wasp lays their eggs inside the bodies of these insects using their ovipositor, a pointed egg-laying structure.

The young parasite eggs hatch and begin feeding on the contents of their “host,” killing it.

Two parasitic wasps common in gardens are:

  • Aphidius colemani (Braconid wasp)
  • Ichneumon Wasp

Pest management is the key to insect control for your roses and other plants in gardens.

  • Learning when aphids feed
  • Knowing your control options
  • Understanding when sprays are the most effective without killing off the good insects.

You have many options available for keeping aphids on your roses under control. It’s learning to use the tools and maintain the balance.

Identifying and Controlling Insects that Prey on Roses

Before you wrestle with any insects on your roses, make sure you know what the problem is. For a start, consult the list of common insects in this article. If you need further help, contact a local nursery — the folks there should be familiar with the common problems that affect roses in your area. Nearby botanical gardens and your local cooperative extension office also may be able to help.

Following is a list of the most common insect pests you’re likely to find infesting your roses and the best ways to control them:

  • Aphids are tiny, pear-shaped pests that come in many colors, including black, green, and red. (See Figure 1.) They congregate on new growth and flower buds, sucking plant sap with their needle-like noses. They leave behind a sticky, sugary substance called honey dew, that may turn black and ugly if infected with sooty mold. Honey dew also attracts ants.

Figure 1: Aphids are attracted to new growth.

    Aphids are easy to control. You can knock them off a plant with a strong jet of water from a hose, or you can spray them with an insecticidal soap. The soap helps wash off sooty mold, too. But usually, if you just wait a week or two, the aphid population boom is followed by a buildup in beneficial insects, especially lady beetles, and these beneficials take matters into their own hands (er, mouths) before serious damage occurs. Malathion, and acephate are traditional chemical controls for aphids. A new product packaged under the name Merit (imidacloprid), is very effective against aphids, and is fairly environmentally friendly. However, it can be hard to find.

  • Cucumber beetles are easy to recognize — they’re about 1/4-inch long and yellowish green, with black stripes or dots on their backs. Two different types exist. They feed mostly on cucumbers and vegetable plants, but they also love rose blossoms and take big bites out of them just as they open.
    Control is difficult. Try spraying spray with pyrethrum, neem, or insecticidal soap. Parasitic nematodes prey on the soil-borne larvae. Carbaryl is a traditional chemical control.
  • Japanese beetles can really be a serious problem east of the Mississippi River. The 1/2-inch long beetles have coppery bodies and metallic green heads. (See Figure 2.) They feed on both flowers and foliage, often skeletonizing the leaves.

Figure 2: Japanese beetles can skeletonize foliage.

    Control can be tough. Treating your lawn and garden soil with parasitic nematodes or milky spore may reduce the white, C-shaped larvae, but more adults will probably fly in from your neighbors’ yards. Milky spore takes years to spread throughout your lawn. Turning the soil in the open areas of the rest of your yard to expose the grubs to birds may also help. Floral-scented traps that attract adult beetles are available, but the traps may bring in more beetles than you had before. If you try traps, keep them at least 100 feet away from your roses.
    Neem, insecticidal soap, and pyrethrum are effective alternative sprays for controlling adult beetles. Traditional chemicals that may help include carbaryl and acephate. You can also just pick them off your roses (late evening is the best time) and or drop them into a can of soapy water.
  • June beetles are about an inch long and reddish brown to black. They usually feed at night and prefer the foliage of various trees, but they also feed on roses. Control is the same as for Japanese beetles, but milky spore is not effective against June beetle grubs.
  • Caterpillars are the larvae of moths or butterflies. They occasionally feed on the foliage or flowers of roses. You can control them with Bt or by releasing trichogramma wasps (they prey on caterpillar eggs). Acephate and carbaryl are traditional chemical controls that may be effective. Remember, however, that moths and butterflies are essential for pollination. And if you enjoy seeing butterflies in your garden, plant extra roses to account for caterpillar damage.
  • Rose midges are small, almost invisible pests that rasp new growth, especially flower buds, causing it to shrivel and turn black. If your rose plants look healthy but do not produce flowers, suspect rose midge. Insecticidal soaps sometimes work. For better control, attack the soil-borne larvae with Diazinon or chloropyrifos.
  • Rose chafers are tan-colored beetles with long legs, as shown in Figure 3. Again, control is the same as for Japanese beetles and June beetles, but milky spore is not effective against the grubs.

Figure 3: Rose chafers are tan and have long legs.

  • Rose stem borers are tiny, worm-like larvae (shown in Figure 4) that bore into recently cut or new canes, and feed inside them, sometimes causing the cane to die. Several different insects can do this kind of damage, and they all are hard to control.

Figure 4: Rose stem borers feed inside newly cut canes.

    Cut off the wilted stem well back into healthy tissue. (You may be able to see a small hole where the borer entered the stem. Cut back below that.) Look to see whether tissue inside the cane is damaged. If so, cut lower still until the inside of the cane is normal. If the borer has reached the base of the cane and bored into the bud union, you may lose the plant. Few sprays of any kind are effective, although you may get some of the larvae as they drop to the ground after feeding by using parasitic nematodes near the base of the plant.
    If borers are really giving you fits, put a drop of white glue (Elmer’s style) on the top of the cane after you cut a flower or prune. This keeps out the type of borer that enters through pruning cuts, but not the type that bores directly into new canes and causes them to wilt.
  • Spider mites are tiny arachnids that you can barely see without a magnifying glass. If the population gets big enough, you can see their fine webbing beneath the leaves. As the mites suck plant juices, the leaves become yellowish with a silvery stippling or sheen. If things really get bad, the plant may start dropping leaves. Mites are most common in hot, dry summer climates and on dusty plants.
    A daily bath with a strong spray from a hose should keep infestations down. Just make sure you work hardest on the undersides of the leaves. You can control spider mites with insecticidal soaps, which also help to clean off a plant’s leaves. Summer oil is also effective, as is releasing predatory mites. If the pests get completely out of control, you may have to use a miticide, such as Avid.
  • Thrips are another almost-invisible troublemaker. They feed on flower petals, causing them to become discolored and the buds to be deformed as they open. Thrips like all roses but are particularly fond of light-colored varieties.
    Many beneficial insects feed on thrips, especially lacewings. Insecticidal soaps are also effective, as are several other insecticides, including acephate. Imidaclorid, mentioned previously under aphids, is also effective against thrips.

How to get rid of greenfly on roses

Black bean aphid Picture: Alamy

3. What damage do greenfly and blackfly cause?

  • Greenfly are sap-sucking creatures that can alter the growth of a plant, decrease its vigour and produce a sticky substance which is the perfect environment for moulds.
    Greenfly on rose Picture: Alamy
  • Blackfly, similarly to greenfly, are sap-sucking. As a result they can stunt growth, produce a sticky substance and can also cause severe damage to the flowers of plants.

4. Organic methods of dealing with greenfly and blackfly

  • Soapy water. Sometimes, a concoction of warm water and detergent can be administered to the plant via a spray bottle, or even by hand.
    While this can be successful, it’s not going to keep aphids away, so constant monitoring of plants is necessary.
  • Squishing by hand. As gruesome as it may be, sometimes the only effective method of controlling greenfly is to kill them between finger and thumb.
    Perhaps use gloves if you’re squeamish.
  • Ladybirds. Of course ladybirds are the natural predator of greenfly, however using biological control (i.e. buying in masses of ladybirds) unfortunately doesn’t work outside.
    With regards to natural predators, you can try to encourage ladybirds and other beneficial insects such as hoverflies by growing the plants they like, such as marigolds, chives, cosmos, dill, fennel, yarrow, caraway, angelica and Queen Anne’s lace.
    Ladybirds are the natural predators of aphids Picture: Alamy
  • Diversionary tactics. Perhaps instead of the aphids having a field day on your roses, you could plant an area of nasturtiums and cosmos (easy to grow) to act as a larder for the aphids – tearing them away from your prized plants.

Nasturtiums are great food for aphids Picture: Alamy

•Top ten dangerous garden pests: how to tackle them

Aphid control: How to get rid of greenfly

What are aphids?

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that seem to find their way into every garden. It’s important to get aphids under control before they reproduce and multiply, however luckily aphid control is relitively simple.

Control and prevention

The best way to control and ultimately get rid of greenfly may be to feed your ants, says gardening expert Doug Stewart.

It sounds an unlikely solution, doesn’t it? However, the best way to control greenfly and blackfly on fruit trees, could be to make up a sugary solution and feed it to the ants in your garden, according to the latest research. Unlikely as this may sound; it could be just the solution we have been waiting for as gardeners. There is something plant scientists call ant-aphid (greenfly) mutualism. This is a complex way of explaining that aphids, who are really good at extracting the sweet juices running through a plant’s stem, digest some of it and exude the rest, which often falls to the ground in the summer, making both cars, patios and garden furniture sticky.

Ants have tapped into this wonderful sugary food source, collecting it from the aphids. Soon they become addicted to this sugary delight. While the odd aphid might also nibble at a little bit of protein, the real damage occurs as the ants move the aphids around the infected plants, in essence setting up small aphid farms. The ants also protect the aphids from natural predators and parasites which would otherwise naturally control the aphid population. Researchers found that once the ants were removed from the scene, the aphids quickly fell prey to predators, and are attacked and consumed.

How to remove greenflies

Something as simple as a sugar solution being made available to the ants stops them farming the aphids and so reduces the damage to fruit trees. The research was presented by Professor Jerry Cross to fruit growers at the East Malling Research Association in association with the Horticultural Development Company. He recommends the use of a 30% sucrose solution, stabilised with the sugar alcohol sorbitol, which should be made available to the ants just before blossom and kept available for 4 – 6 weeks.

For those of us trying to garden organically, pull on your overalls or work trousers, and focus on using nematodes for slug control, encouraging beneficial insects with beds of nectar-rich flowers, and placing small bottles of sugar solution at the base of fruit trees – could be the trend to follow in 2019.

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