Growing and keeping a rose bush in your garden or allotment as a gardener or rose lover is a lovely sight especially when you have a large collection of them around. As much as keeping them around your garden is a joy to behold, they come with their complications. One of the complications when looking at your plant care is the infestation of your roses with caterpillars.
For most people out gardening – getting rid of caterpillars especially in the mid-spring when they appear in most gardens is a major pain in the proverbial behind. As many gardeners know, they do not just attack rose bushes but different varieties of plants and flowers.
Caterpillars and Rose Plants
Caterpillars are part of the stage cycle of insects which could either be important in the pollination of your flowers or that of an unwanted pest to your crops. The caterpillar is a part of the larvae family, they emerge from the eggs laid by different insects mostly on leaf plants or around plants one such plant is the rose plant which produces the rose flower.
Caterpillars are known to have big appetites as they are always hungry. This is why they become a problem to plant enthusiasts because, in their bid to fill their stomachs, they leave tiny holes in the leaves and ultimately on the rose flowers themselves if not checked early.
They eat the green tissues of leaves living the rest to look skeletonised and window-paned before they eventually turn brown and crisp. Ragged holes in the rose leaves are often giveaway signs of rose slug damage. This is caused by rose sawflies.
Although most times the damage from a rose sawfly does not destroy the plant it is on completely. This is often because the plant sheds the damaged leaves and grows another, however, if the caterpillar infestation from the sawfly larvae is very severe, it could leave the plant vulnerable to plant diseases or insects that might ravish the entire plant.
Some of the common caterpillars found in most rose gardens include;
- Tussock moth larvae
- Omnivorous loopers
- Tent caterpillars
- Fruittree leafrollers
How to Get Rid of Caterpillars
There are different ways by which you could get rid of these cute but destructive little creatures from your rose plant real estate.
Below we would look into a few methods that would help you in getting rid of these hungry fellas from your gardens.
The first method to be talked about has to be the Hand-picking method. It’s almost the simplest method on the list. This method is advisable when the caterpillar infestation is light; to do this, ensure to observe closely the rose plant for any caterpillar sighting.
If any caterpillar is found, ensure to look at the plant closely especially on its leaves for the caterpillar nest to handpick them. You should also ensure that you look at both sides of the leaf to ensure that they are no habiting on any side of the leaf. When carrying out this process, ensure that you make use of gloves on your hands for protection because some of the caterpillars have thorns on their body.
Also ensure that you have warm soapy water around so when you remove them from your plant, you can place them in the water to drown them.
Use Sticks, Brooms or a Garden Hose
Instead of just using your hands, you could decide to make use of a long sharpened stick or broom handle to remove the nest of the caterpillar or better still its eggs before they hatch. To do this, simply use the selected item to remove the nest carefully by scraping along the inside of the nest to remove the caterpillars cohabiting within the nest.
After removing the contents in the nest, dispose all into the bucket of soapy water for the caterpillars to drown. You could also make use of the garden hose to forcefully knock off and destroy as many larvae as you can with the current of water. It is important to note that as you spray the water, ensure that you spray both sides (i.e. upper and underside) of the leaves.
Use Insecticidal Soap or Neem Oil
Making use of the regular insecticides might be detrimental to your farm as it can chase away the insects that aids in the pollination needed for the reproduction of your plants. This is why you have to ensure that you use an insecticide that is not harmful to your plant and the useful insect while still ensuring your success of killing the caterpillars.
To do so, you could make use of Bacillus Thuringiensis BT, Neem Oil, etc. These solutions act as a poison to the caterpillars, as BT is a bacterium that kills caterpillars by destroying the inside of their stomach. To use BT, all you have to do is sprinkle the powder or liquid on your plant and watch your plants become free from these tiny destroyers.
For those that are wondering, these insecticides are no harmful to your plant, humans, and other pests/pollinators.
Attract Beneficial Insects & Birds
Another way of caterpillar control in your garden is by attracting insects or birds to help with removing the larvae from your farm/garden. This process might seem a bit slower than the other two methods mentioned above, however; it is a long-term strategy to ensure that worms are reduced.
Attracting beneficial insects or birds that prey on caterpillars would help ensure that they are reduced. Insect to attract includes Brachonid and Ichneumon wasps, while birds to attract include Warblers, Orioles, and Chickadees. One of the ways to attract them is by planting crops like carrots.
The DIY (do-it-yourself) option is also on the table to be used when you are trying to get rid of caterpillars from your roses. One of the options is the use of garlic and pepper spray.
You can get this home remedy by combining 1 tablespoon of dried pepper and 1 whole bulb of minced garlic, and soap all in a gallon of water.
Blend them all thoroughly and leave for 24 hours after which you can spray whenever you want on your plant to keep the leaf-eaters off your plant. Other effective home remedies are the chilli pepper spray and molasses spray solution.