Photo of the Week: the Rose Skeletonizer

Next to the stoop on the side of the house are a number of bushes.  Most of them are weeds, but early on I noticed a couple of rose buds forming on one of the plants.  “Oh, how fun!” I thought, “I’ve never had rose bushes before!”  Well, two days later, I no longer did.  Here’s what they look like now:

What's left of the rose bushes (not much).

A closer look revealed the culprit. These little guys were making quick work of the only rosebud left:

Some sort of larvae devouring the yellow rose bushes along the side of the house.

I’m sure the look on my face would have been pretty funny to an onlooker; I’m guessing it looked something like D:

A little research uncovered that these bugs are the larval form of Endelomyia aethiops, or the sawfly.  It turns out the larva also commonly known as the “rose slug” or, more disturbingly, the “rose skeletonizer.” Creepy, huh?  It’s called that for its method of consuming all but the veins of the leaves.  Ultimately, it’s not a huge deal because all the plants there need to be removed anyway (we need to re-grade around the house), but there is a certain inkling of disappointment that we won’t be able to enjoy yellow roses while we continue the construction.


Posted on June 26, 2011, in Photo of the Week, Property and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Sorry about your roses. I am about to write a piece for my 5 element acupuncture homework about the Earth element and sharing and interdependence and getting our needs met. Funny how what one species calls “ornamental”, another calls “my very sustenance”! Your post has really gotten me thinking, in a lovely, contemplative ecology way, about the whole food circle….well, web, I guess is more what it is. Maybe you will have some helpful sparrows (the nasty European invaders!) come along and snack on the rose slugs. They, and the wasps, do a pretty good job of keeping the brassicas in the garden caterpillar free. Love your posts. All the best to you and Paul.

    • Rose slugs are pretty much absolute specifists– in fact, different species of sawfly larvae are commonly named after the plant they eat (rose sawfly, willow sawfly, dusky birch sawfly, etc). Earlier, I was looking for the common ways rose gardeners deal with these guys, and the non-pesticide consensus was that you can just pick them off and throw them in the middle of the yard–they don’t eat grass so you may as well be putting them in a desert.

      There really is a lot of ecology going on all over the property–a good 99% I’m guessing we don’t see! Whenever we do put in gardens, we’ll be using integrated pest management with those food web interactions in mind. Thanks for reading Aunt Kate!

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