How To Get Rid of Caterpillars On Roses

Roses are red; violets are blue. Caterpillars are everywhere; what should I do?

All poems aside, caterpillars can be a real pain when you’re trying to grow beautiful roses in your garden. Caterpillars are part of the Larvae family and love eating their way through plants.

Green caterpillar feeding on pink rose flower budPin

Although caterpillars are harmless and won’t kill your roses, they will leave unsightly holes in your blooms. That’s why knowing the right way to get rid of caterpillars on roses is essential.

In this post, you’ll discover tips to keep your roses free of rose caterpillars once and for all.

What Are Caterpillars?

In short, a caterpillar is a baby moth or butterfly. They are in the larvae stage of the insect’s life cycle.

First, the females lay their eggs near the plant, usually on the foliage or undersides of leaves.

They will eventually hatch and become a pup, then a full-grown adult.

Like every living creature, caterpillars need to eat to grow large enough to enter the next life cycle stage.

You might remember the book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” and they are hungry insects.

Caterpillars particularly like to feed on plants since they are packed with the essential vitamins and nutrients they need to grow.

That’s why most gardeners run into a caterpillar problem at some point. Caterpillar infestations are a common problem for plant enthusiasts.

There are plenty of solutions on how to remove even small infestations from your plants.

On other occasions, these caterpillar-like creatures are rose slugs or the larvae of a rose sawfly.

These sawfly larvae will often eat the soft, green tissue of the leaves.

Moreover, other caterpillars that target your rose flowers include the rose budworm, leafroller, tent caterpillar, orange and rose tortrix, tussock moth, and omnivorous looper.

What Damage Do Caterpillars Cause To Roses?

Most people grow roses for their aesthetic appeal. Bite marks and holes in rose leaves are usually a massive letdown. Caterpillars generally come around during the later side of spring.

They start by eating the softer green parts of the rose leaves and eventually work their way up to the flower pedals.

Although caterpillars will not kill your roses, they can cause some severe damage. The damaged foliage will have a skeletonized appearance, and the remaining veins of the leaves will become crisp and turn brown.

More severe infestation can weaken your plant’s ability to grow new leaves needed to survive. Other symptoms include flower buds not opening and rose petals have brown streaks.

Caterpillars can make a rose bush more susceptible to diseases or other insect infestations.

If you want to grow beautiful roses, you must take caterpillar infestation seriously.

How To Control A Caterpillar Rose Infestation

If you notice a caterpillar infestation on your roses, remain calm. Use the steps below to handle the situation.

Identify the Infestation

The best way to deal with a caterpillar problem is to find them while they’re still young. Early detection will help you tremendously clear your roses from these hungry larvae.

Around mid-spring, check the lower part of your rose leaves for tiny green worms that look like caterpillars.

Remove Caterpillars by Hand

One of the easiest ways to remove caterpillars from your roses is by hand and drop them in a cup of soapy water.

Remember, almost all species of caterpillars are harmless. You don’t need to worry about them biting or stinging you.

But, always wear gloves or a form of hand protection when doing so to avoid any potential issues.

Use a Chemical Solution

Another effective way to get rid of those rose caterpillars is with an insecticidal solution, horticultural oil, or neem oil.

You can find some that are not as toxic as mainstream brands. This is ideal to keep your garden as organic as possible.

Chemical solutions or insecticides like malathion, carbaryl, permethrin, insecticidal soaps, and combination products are useful.

However, they can also potentially destroy your plants if you don’t use them properly. So it’s important to follow the instructions on the product label.

Remember to spray the solution directly onto the larvae and not anywhere else on your plant.

Otherwise, you might compromise and harm pollinators your plants need to thrive.

If you want to avoid this, consider removing the caterpillars by hand or use one of the home remedies below.

Introduce Natural Enemies

Introducing natural predators of caterpillars is another effective way to eradicate caterpillar infestation and control its population in your garden.

These beneficial predators include:

It will eliminate caterpillars and other common insect pests, like thrips, mites, ants, scale insects, and Japanese beetles.

Other Options To Control Caterpillars

Home Remedies

Some gardeners use a few everyday household items that are excellent for getting rid of caterpillars.

The most popular one is a garlic pest spray. Since garlic has high acidity, it is essentially a natural insect repellent.

  • In a spray bottle
  • Mix two cups of water
  • A couple of spoonfuls of garlic

… You will be ready to go to town on your plant invaders.

Tips On How To Get Rid of Caterpillars on Plants

For this method, you can use either diced garlic or cloves.

Try sprinkling garlic cloves around your rose plants to prevent caterpillars from coming near. It won’t exactly kill the caterpillars, but it will repel them.

Another natural home remedy for keeping caterpillars away from your roses is hot peppers.

To make sure caterpillars stay away from your rose bush, throw a bunch of chopped red peppers around your garden. You can also use jalapenos, cayenne pepper, or chili peppers.

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