Anyone asking “what is eating the leaves on my roses?” is having a hard time because the beautiful rose plants are suffering from pest infestation.

What Is Eating the Leaves on My Roses

So many pests, especially insects, are responsible for the loss of your rose leaves, so you should know them and possibly repel them. Read this informative guide to learn your rose pests and pest control methods.

What Is Eating the Leaves on My Roses?

Common pests that eat the leaves of your rose bushes are rose sawflies, scale insects, gastropods, leaf-cutter bees, aphids, and thrips. In addition, they might be rabbits or even deer as bigger animals that would eat the leaves that are on your roses.

– Rose Sawflies

The common rose sawfly larvae with yellow, green or black spots are larvae that eat the leaves of roses, damaging each leaf until the entire plant looks ugly. The larvae will start eating the leaves from the inside, so you will spot some holes inside the leaves of the bushes and not in the edges, and this is how you would tell.

On the other hand, the adult form of this insect lays her eggs on the leaves of the rose or around the plant and then the larvae start feeding on the leaves as they grow. Hence, you can identify the adults easily with their black head and thorax, yellow abdomen, and brown wings.

– Beetles and Weevil

Beetles and weevils are some of the most dangerous pests of rose plants. Some beetles that you should watch out for are Japanese beetles, European rose chafers, Chinese rose beetles also known as Adoretus sinicus, Macrodactylus subspinosus, Hoplia beetles, and fuller rose beetles. However, most of these insects specifically look for rose plants to feed on the leaves.

Some of these beetles lay eggs around the plants and their larvae start feeding on the roots and stems of the plants. As soon as they become adults, they move to the top of the plant and start feeding on the roots.

You must note that beetles do not run or fly away when they are done feeding, which means they are easy to find around your roses, overall, you only need to check for them in the morning or at noon. 

– Spider Mites

Spider mites are mites that you can quickly identify on your rose leaves. They are mostly bright red and covered in web-like silk resembling powdery mildew.

These mites usually hide below the leaves, so you only need to turn the leaves so that the bottom side is up to see them. While these insects are easy to remove, they prove to be difficult, especially when you consider how many they are.

Spider mites suck the juices off your rose leaves, so the leaves will start looking pale, and the entire plant will look weak. You do not want the mites near your roses.

Pests are Eating the Leaves on My Roses

– Gastropods

Garden snails damage your rose leaves as they can freely crawl through the thorny stems of the roses without single damage. The snails may not target your roses like other host-specific pests, but they will surely create large holes in the leaves of the roses.

Just like snails, slugs also create holes in the rose leaves. However, they mostly focus on the leaves below and do not go to the top of the plant. These gastropods which are snails and slugs would mostly attack plants at night, which means to find them, you need to check your plants at night or very early in the morning.

– Leaf-cutter Bees

Have you ever seen a bee that is flying alone and does not go back to a hive full of other bees? While you’d love to learn more about leaf-cutter bees, you do not want them anywhere close to your roses and other plants in your garden because they are very disastrous to the leaves of your roses.

Leafcutter bees eat plant leaves by scraping them from their edges and then moving to the next leaf. Well, they do not move in groups, so the damage caused by leafcutter bees is not much. Moreover, you can tell that leafcutter bees are attacking your rose leaves by the circular holes in the edges of the leaves. You can find these bees during the day.

– Rabbits

Rabbits will surely eat as many rose leaves as they can find. Well, they limit their diet to the leaves just near the ground because of the thorns of the bushes. You can tell that rabbits visited your rose trees by the presence of their poop. Rabbits pass through your fence if it has holes, so you want to check the fence if it is secured.

– Scale Insects

If you see white, brown, red, or black scale-like dots on your rose plants, especially on the petioles of the leaves, you most likely have scale insects on the plants. These insects do not create large holes in the leaves, but they can weaken or kill the roses by sucking out the nutrients from the leaves and petioles.

These insects are not so easy to repel, so you always want to monitor your roses and remove them as you see them.

– Aphids and Thrips

Aphids and thrips are common insects that attack so many plants, so if you have a garden, you must watch out for them. Their damage is minimal, but the more they increase in population, the more damage they can cause. Thankfully, they are easy to repel, as long as you have the right repellent products.

– Deer

Ever asked “what is eating my rose leaves at night?” the answer is very simple, and it’s deer. Deer do not really search for rose trees because of their leaves, but if they stumble upon one when walking, they will eat some leaves off the tree. Well, they mostly eat the lower leaves or the ones that they can reach and do not climb the tree because of the thorns.

They do love to eat rose leaves as that is a food they find and if they stubble to roses in your garden, they will feed on them. You can tell that deer visited your roses by the presence of their fur or their waste around the plants. in addition, if deer have visited your garden before, there is a high chance that they are responsible for the missing leaves of the roses.


How To Prevent Leaves on Roses To Be Eaten?

To prevent leaves on roses from being eaten, you can make an insecticidal soap, make a beer trap, spread some neem oil, place birds for protection, hand pick the pests by yourself, water spray them, and even build a protection fence.

– Make Use of Insecticidal Soap

The use of insecticidal soap is a good treatment for bugs eating rose leaves and it is also cheap to make, so you should always have one nearby in case you see pests on your rose. It is a simple product made by mixing water and dish soap. Soap repels insects, so this product repels insects from your roses and kills the ones already on the leaves.

Be sure to use the soap in the morning or evening, depending on the type of insects on your roses, meaning some are active during the day while others are nocturnal. However, note that there is no need to constantly use the product, especially when you have not seen pests on your roses for long.

Prevent Leaves on Roses To Be Eaten

– Make a Beer Trap

If you want to attract and catch pests like snails, slugs, caterpillars, and some insects, make use of the ever-working beer trap. Beer is rich in yeast, barley, and other sweet-smelling ingredients, so it attracts pests. However, the pests get trapped and drown in the trap, dying in the bowl.

Note that to make the beer trap for your rose pests, you only need to keep some bowls filled with cheap beer around your rose garden. The best time to do this is in the evening, especially for nocturnal pests. In the morning, you would need to dispose of the beer and the pests dead inside because they can cause an eyesore.

– Place Birds that Protect

Turkeys, chickens, and other farm birds can help you to repel and control the pest population in your rose garden. If the pests disturbing your roses are insects or insect larvae, there is no cheaper way to control them than by making use of farm birds. These birds will eat the pests and will not get sick, because they are immune, since insects and their larvae are in the natural diet of birds.

On the other hand, you must also remember that roses have thorns, so the birds may be limited to the bottom parts of the stems. They will help to eat pests in the soil, but not on top of the plant leaves above. Overall, monitor the birds so that they do not dig out or damage your rose roots.

– Place Birds for Protection

Neem oil is an awesome home remedy for holes in rose leaves and a rose slugs natural remedy. The oil is an organic substance that would help to drive off pests attacking your rose leaves because of its harsh smell and other pest-repelling properties. You only need to apply the oil regularly, as its effects fade off quickly.

Neem oil can be expensive, especially when you use it regularly, so only make use of it for caterpillars and other pests on the leaves. For pests from the soil, find other methods to get rid of them so that you can save some money.

– Handpick the Pests

One of the cheapest ways to grow pest-free roses is to pick up the pests, preferably with your hands, immediately after you see them. Many of these caterpillar and insect pests may be dangerous to your plants, but they will not harm you. However, if you are not so comfortable about holding insects with your hands, you can always wear gloves or use a stick to remove them.

Throw the pests as far away from the roses as possible, because they do not belong there. If you can, place them in a soapy solution which is fatal. Note that stepping on cutworms and other pests from the soil may not kill them, as they can escape by burrowing in the soil.

– Use a Forceful Water Spray

Another cheap and fun way to remove pests from your roses is by forcefully removing them with a water spray, with a bit of pressure. Keep in mind that you must be very cautious and not harm the flower itself.

This spray is effective for beetles, sawflies, aphids, and sometimes spider mites. However, to ensure that they do not return to the plants, you may want to step on them on the ground.

A forceful water spray is not harmful to your plants as the rose leaves are strong. It is even beneficial as plants enjoy a water bath, especially in the morning before the sun is hot. However, if the pressure of the water is too much and you can see the leaves falling off the plant, you should stop spraying them.

– Build a Protection Fence

A fence will protect your beautiful roses from deer, rabbits, and any other large pest that is entering the garden to eat the leaves of your roses and other plants in it.

Get rid of pest infestation on beautiful rose plants

The fence should go deep a little into the soil so that rabbits and other pests that can dig through the soil will not pass the fence easily.

If there are rats in your garden, you should reduce the space in the fence so that the pests will not have access to your garden.


What companion plants can repel bugs from roses?

Marigolds and garlic are effective companion plants that repel bugs from roses, providing natural pest control.

Can I spray soapy water on roses?

Yes, spraying soapy water on roses can help control certain pests, but avoid excessive use to prevent plant damage.

What is eating my rose leaves at night?

Common nighttime pests that eat rose leaves include slugs, snails, and Japanese beetles. Identify and treat accordingly.


Now you can grow beautiful roses by protecting them from harmful pests. Take note of the following reminders:

  • If you cannot find the pests attacking your rose leaves, check the plants at night.
  • Most pests of roses are insects, so try to make and always have an insecticidal soap to repel or kill them.
  • Some pests will not create holes in the leaves, they do their damage by sucking the juices of the leaves.
  • You can call your turkeys and chickens to eat your rose pests.
  • Free ways to get rid of rose pests are by handpicking them or blasting them with a water spray.

What are you waiting for? Go check your rose garden right away to know the pest disturbing your plants, and swoosh them right off your garden.

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