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I planted a lovely new rose the other day and all well for a few days, then suddenly one morning nearly all the leaves have gone - there's virtually nothing left of them, just a tiny bit of green on the stalk. Not sawfly I don't think but as nothing left to see can't really tell. I do have rabbits around but don't think this was them as no sign (droppings) in the area and normally they eat the lot, stalks etc. Could it be pigeons or pheasants as have lots of them around?

Lavender Lady

Sounds like some kind of caterpillar to me lotto, they can literally strip a plant overnight.  What a shame though.  I have a lot of pigeons and I have never known them to eat roses. 


This used to happen to my Mme Alfred Carriere in my last garden about this time of year - lots of little caterpillars - no idea what they were - would strip it virtually overnight.  A bit of rose and shrub fertiliser used to perk it up again and it would grow some new leaves.

It doesn't happen (so far! crossed fingers smiley) in this garden, but here we have a family of bluetits gathering every creepy crawly they can find 


Thanks Lavender and Dove. I have other roses and so far (fingers crossed as I have two Mme Alfred Carriere amongst others) haven't been touched. Plenty of blue tits (about 10 young fledglings!) and zillions of other birds here too so would hope caterpillars wouldn't last long but who knows. 

Is there nothing I can do to protect roses from such a hoard of hooligans?



Spraying pesticides would endanger  your bluetits and pollinators.  

I'm wondering if your rose arrived with the pest eggs already on it, (especially as your other roses don't appear to be affected) and they hatched and there they were, munching your rosebush.  Hopefully, with all those bluetits raiding your flowerbeds very few (if any) will survive to pupate and lay eggs next year - I think your best rose defence strategy is to nurture those bluetits 



Well I certainly am nurturing the bluetits so will continue doing that. thanks Dove!

Woodgreen wonderboy

Deer eat roses.Caterpillars don't eat whole plant overnight without being visible next day. Deer hop off somewhere else. One clue, if there are no droppings, is the evidence of foot prints.

I've got a similar problem. Last year my roses lost all their leaves, but still flowered well. This year some of them are losing their leaves, but still flowering. I can't see any caterpillars or bugs of any kind, although I do have a bit of black spot but nothing rampant. It's driving me mad - any suggestions please?


I've never seen deer around here or sign of them (no droppings or footprints) so don't think it was deer but I suppose could be. The leaves aren't dropping they are definitely being eaten as you can see the tiny remains of them on the stems. Two whole stems were eaten in one night! Luckily one stem still remains and has a bud so hopefully it will survive!

Hi there, would normally say sawfly larvae as they can strip their hosts leaves in the blink of an eye, but if stems are going .... I'd suggest surveillance cameras, barbed wire and a security guard!! sorry just kidding.

What might be a suggestion, would be to remove rose if poss and put it in as large a pot as is appropriate and feed with slow release feed and a liquid feed to boost immediate growth so leaves can develop and it can photosynthesise. Also could you keep the pot over night in somewhere secure? Intensive care for a bit until it's back on it's feet?

All the best - what rose is it by the way?

Ps. please remember roses in pots need to be looked after, a bit like bedding plants, they're v hungry and need watering at base regularly. Sorry if this is obvious but you know ...


Hi Sunny, thanks for this. The stems aren't going, just the leaves so maybe sawfly I suppose. I've looked around it for the larvae but can't see them so not sure where they hide in the day. Blighters came back last night and took even more. It looks very odd now just with six leaves and a bud at the stop of one stem! good idea to lift it and put in pot. I will definitely do that and give it some TLC for a few days and hope it recovers. It is Warm Wishes, a hybrid tea. I have a number of roses and yet this is the only one that's being attacked. So hope they don't get to the others!

I have just taken some pics of the same thing happening to mine (including the culprits!) but can`t upload them, any tips as I would like to know what they are! They only seem to attack my red roses, one a bower rose, the other is "Isabella".


Deer eat my roses, I dug some up and put them in pots on the kitchen terrace. These ones were almost dead, but were making a good recovery then the wretched deer came right up on the terrace and ate all the leaves. He did leave a dropping though!

When uploading photos it takes a bit of time so you have to be patient. I thought it didn't work at first.




 Sussed it! Here they are!



At least it's not deer. They strip a rose at one sitting!

Hi Busy-Lizzie, no deer access here, although they are just a few hundred yards away, but lots of birds including blue-tits, so looking at earlier posts, hopefully they won't be around for long! (the grubs!) I usually cut off affected branches and get rid, as I have a phobia of caterpillars! Trying to be tollerant this year, but these are right next to where I have my morning cuppa!!!


PS, couldn't upload pics as hadn't "joined", no probs once I had!

my rose bush was eaten over night the flower is still their big and gorgeous and some leaves under it no sign what so ever of bugs my other 17 rose plants are all around the yard doing great what is it I have deer in my back yard every morning but only seen them in the front twice and bunny rabbits all over the place could it be one of theme ice will be below

Last edited: 30 June 2016 01:39:12


Hi Folks, I've resurected this old thread just to confirm what the caterpillars are on the last photo.  Found loads of them on my Paul's Noel rambler.