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Rose Pests

What are pests?

Roses are well-loved by many people, but unfortunately there are many pests that also love roses. ‘Pest’ is the name given to any insect or animal that has a harmful effect on humans, livestock, crops or plants.

Pests can also include animals that carry disease-causing parasites and microorganisms, cause damage to clothing or buildings, bite people, attack farm and station animals, or cause damage to food and plants. While there are thousands of different types of pests that can cause harm to plants and humans, insects make up the majority.

Types of pests

Pests can cause adverse effects on plants and animals, but there are some types of pests that are more attracted to certain organisms than others. Roses are a plant that, while beautiful, are unfortunately a target to a wide variety of pests including thrips, aphids, and scale.


Thrips are one of many rose insects that cause deformities in leaves, stems, flowers, and buds. These insects are difficult to see due to their size, making it easy for them to bury themselves deep into foliage or on the undersides of leaves. Thrips are sap-sucking insects that cause damage to roses.

Thrips On Roses

It can be expected for the damage to substantially increase if the thrips are carrying viruses that can be transmitted to the plant. When this happens the plant will develop dark streaks and small white patches.

To identify a thrip, you’ll need a magnifying glass.

You’re looking for an insect that is tiny, about 1/50 to 1/25 inches long. Thrips are often associated with having a body that is as thin as a sewing needle. The colours of thrips can vary from yellow to brown to black, and they will have narrow wings. If you try to get a closer look at a thrip it may leap or fly away.


Roses can expect a visit from aphids every year. If and when they do strike, you can expect them to attack very quickly. There are two types of aphids that tend to attack rose plants, these are either Macrosiphum rosae (rose aphid) or Macrosiphum euphorbiae (potato aphid). Aphids tend to infest the soft tips of new growth, flower buds, and leaves. As a result of an attack, roses will grow deformed, shoots will wilt, and parts of the plant may even defoliate.

Common Rose Leaf Problems

Aphids are approximately 2.5mm long and can have quite a varied appearance ranging from being coloured either green, brown, or pink. Aphids can either be winged or wingless, but when a cluster attack happens you can expect to see both varieties.

These aphids usually appear during spring or summer, but due to prolific breeding they will multiply very fast. When the months are warmer, colonies can grow seemingly overnight as it only takes a few weeks for young aphids to develop into adults.

Unlike the potato aphid which is attracted to nearly any plant with a bloom, rose aphids do not have an interest in any other plants and will only ever infect roses.

White Scale

It is quite common for gardeners to see scale on their roses and mistake them for being part of the plant’s growth rather than a pest. This is due to the fact that gardeners commonly associate pests as insects that leap, crawl and fly. Scale pests are part of the Coccoidea family which is made up of several hundred species of sap-sucking insects.

You can tell that your rose bush has scale by the white scale coating that will appear on older stems, leaves, and branches. The various species of scale will all have a different part of the plant that they are associated with. Aside from the obvious formation of white scale clusters on your roses, the first sign of scale infestation include yellowing, drooping and a lack of flower production.

Why are pests attracted to my plants?

There are many rose varieties that are resistant to rose diseases such as a powdery mildew and black spot, but unfortunately there are no rose varieties that are resistant to insect pests.

Even rose varieties that are considered ‘low-maintenance’ can still fall victim to a pest infestation, particularly if they are planted in a cramped space or in a high humidity environment. Whether your plants are grown indoors or outdoors, it’s possible that some sort of insect pest will find a way to make it their home.

Fertilising Roses

How to prevent rose pests

Preventing bugs on roses can start from the moment you plant your rose bush. When selecting the roses for your garden, be sure to find out what variety is known to grow healthy in your area. Certain varieties are more susceptible to diseases and pests when grown in specific climates.

Another thing to keep in mind is your garden layout. Ideally it’s best if your roses are positioned in a part of the garden that will allow them to be exposed to the sun for at least six to eight hours a day while also not being cramped with other rose plants.

Common Rose Leaf Problems

Allowing room between your roses will make it a lot easier for air to circulate throughout the plant, in return making it more difficult for disease and insects to build themselves a home within the foliage.

What to do if I already have rose pests?

The first thing you need to do is become familiar with what type of rose pest has previously infected your rose plants and what type of pest can potentially infect your rose plants.

The easiest way to do this is to learn how to recognise these pests. Remember, not all pests need to crawl or jump! White scale have been known for tricking gardeners into thinking that they’re part of the plant due to their somewhat stationary behaviour.

If the insect is hiding within leaves or foliage and is very thin with narrow wings, then your rose bush may be suffering from an infestation of thrips. If the pests look slightly larger, varying from brown, green or pink and are sitting in a cluster with both winged and wingless variations, there’s a good chance that aphids are inhabiting your rose bush.

Sometimes you can take all the preventative measures to stop pests but somehow they will still find a way to your plant. The best thing a gardener can do is always keep an eye on your roses for any odd insects or critters calling around so you can remove them before they multiply into an unmanageable colony. In some instances you might need to employ pest control options and purchase a rose spray to protect your plants against killer creepy crawlies.

Garden Express has all your rose-growing needs. Whether you’re a first time grower who is looking to plant roses to nurture and brighten your garden, or you’re a long-time rose lover who is looking for all the basic rose care necessities, Garden Express has you covered.

Rose bush

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