Insects on roses

by Richard Jones

It rained on Sunday, so what better way to spend it than planting roses?

Ants crawling over rose soft scale, Parthenolecanium corniIt rained on Sunday, so what better way to spend the day than planting roses? Well, I went and played Power Rangers in the bushes in Dulwich Park with 3-year-old, while my partner did the planting. She'd ordered them at Chelsea, and we'd almost completely forgotten about them when they arrived last week. Roses do very well in London, and so too do the insects that feed on them.

Apart from the leafcutter bees, which cut out those beautiful semicircles, the insects I most associate with roses are the rose leafhopper and the soft scale. I'm not being deliberately provocative when I say that I think they are beautiful and fascinating.

Rose leafhopper, Edwardsiana rosaeThe rose leafhopper, Edwardsiana rosae, is a lovely pale hopper, elegant in form and delicate in line. I'm always amazed to see that skip turn into a flight which then turns and loops back on itself before the insect vanishes, returning onto the bush, but hidden on a leaf underside somewhere. These are nymphs, and therefore wingless and easier to photograph.

The soft scale, Parthenolecanium corni, is a beast of curious form indeed. It hardly looks like a living creature at all, and more like a small wart on the plant stem. I noticed them for the first time when photographing ants running up and down the branches. At each scale an ant would stop, tickle it with its antennae, and suck up the small droplet of honeydew that was presented.

Neither of these insects has ever reached pest proportions in my garden, so I've never had need to regard them as pests. On the other hand, the caterpillars of the rose sawfly, Arge pagana, shredded whole branches a few years ago so I waged war with a pair of narrow tweezers, squishing each one I came across.

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Gardeners' World Web User 04/12/2008 at 10:22

December 4th and I have new growth on delphiniums and 2 flowers on a white one, just come into full bloom 4 days ago. They have survived 3 days of very prolonged frosts!

Gardeners' World Web User 10/12/2008 at 14:11

I have those leaf-cutters as well. They decimated my roses a couple of years ago. Good to know its 'OK to squish'!

Gardeners' World Web User 20/12/2008 at 20:17

It's not ok to squish leaf cutter bees, they do no harm. The aphids are the ones to squish!!

Gardeners' World Web User 01/08/2010 at 20:37

Can anyone help something is eating the tops off my rose buds! And pulling the pulling the bud covers inwards and leaving a white silt.Any ideas! Many thanx

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:37

It took me a few years to learn that the huge ants that would invade my living room floor periodically, it was hard wood, actually came from the spireha? bushes outside. They were covered in aphids, at certain times of year, and that is when the ants gathered to, as the book said "milk them." So once I got rid of the aphids, I got rid of the huge ants.

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