One of the most popular and storied flowers, the rose is technically a flowering shrub; over 100 types of roses exist. Whatever your rose cultivar, and whatever its color—pink, red, white and yellow are just a few of the common shades available—your roses can be attacked by several different insect pests. Discover some of the types of bugs and bug-related problems that may be afflicted upon your roses so you can be better prepared to defend the plants.
Green, red, black or brown aphids, sometimes called rose lice, can attack your rose plants during the spring growing season. The insects typically attack rose seedlings and any new plant growth shooting off of the rose plant's woody stems. Aphids bite and suck out the juices in the rose stem. In great numbers, aphids can quickly kill new growth or an entire rose seedling.
Japanese beetles, which measure up to 1/2 inch in length, are one of the most common insect problems on rose plants. The beetle feeds on rose leaves, punching round holes in the leaves and leaving them looking like lace cloth. Beetle infestations usually last for only a few weeks during the summer and are not deadly to roses, but can cause significant damage and stress to the rose bush.
Scale bugs, such as the cottony cushion scale, rose scale and California red scale, can be a significant problem on rose plants. At best, scale bugs can wilt foliage and stunt growth. At worst, the scale bugs will kill the entire rose shrub. The bugs grab onto the plant and feed on the juices within the rose's stems.
Rose Leaf Hoppers
The rose leaf hopper congregates on the underside of rose foliage and sucks out the juices in the leaves' membranes, causing wilted foliage and stunted leaf development. Common symptoms before complete foliage loss is a yellow or rust-colored hue spreading across the leaf as the leaf is sucked dry.
Thrips are one of the few rose bush bugs that directly attack rose flowers. The insects target blossoms right before they open, killing the flower before it can be appreciated. If the rose blossom does bloom, it will often be mottled in appearance with holes and dark spots.