Rose Slugs and Sawflies

Rose Slugs and Sawflies

If you’re someone who enjoys cultivating roses, then you are likely already familiar with this pest!


Despite their namesake, Rose slugs are not actually slugs. These yellow-green insects resemble caterpillars, but are actually Rose Sawfly larvae. Rose Sawflies are wasp-like insects that emerge in early spring, and can have anywhere from one to six generations throughout the season depending on the specific species.

Adult Sawflies lay their eggs on the underside of rose leaves, and when the larvae emerge they feed voraciously. Their feeding on the soft tissue of leaves results in the skeletonizing of large portions of foliage. In heavier infestations what’s left of the plant often turns brown and curls, giving the plant a scorched appearance. It’s easy to see why rose owners would not be amused by this insect moving into their gardens!


In light infestations you can simply pick off the larvae during your garden inspections, but in heavy infestations treatment is advised. Heavier infestations can weaken the host plant, due to the stress of heavy leaf loss. This weakened state can invite secondary invaders to take advantage! Vigilance is key when it comes to fighting this pest! Catching rose slugs early is critical to ensuring your rose bushes aren’t defoliated by these hungry bugs.

For those of you that love your roses, but don’t have the time to handle their issues, Arborscapes has created a rose-specific plant health care program. This program is comprised of 6 visits that occur between April and August. The program targets not just sawflies, but other common pests and diseases that impact roses too, like mites, leaf spots, rust, powdery mildew, and rose rosette.

Interested in having your roses inspected by a Certified Arborist? Contact us today to set up an appointment!