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Rose Slugs

June 1, 2005

Rose slugs are numerous in central Illinois, causing rose foliage to be lacelike. The green larvae are more numerous on the undersides of the leaflets. Although causing window-feeding when young, the larvae are now large enough to eat holes in the leaflets and even cause defoliation.

The bristly rose slug is green, with fine, hairlike spines, and grows to about 1/2 inch long. Rose slug looks like bird manure when young but when older looks like the bristly rose slug without the bristles. Both are present at this time of year.

Realize that although these insects look superficially like caterpillars that they are sawfly larvae and B.t.k. will not be effective against them. Acephate (Orthene), bifenthrin (Talstar), carbaryl (Sevin), and cyfluthrin (Tempo) are effective. Insecticidal soap will also be effective with very good coverage. Avoid getting the insecticide on flowers, although most rose varieties have had the nectar and pollen bred out of them and are not attractive to pollinating insects. Species roses and particularly some single-flowered varieties will attract pollinators.

Author: Phil Nixon


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