Awful Aphids, Creepy Caterpillars and Evil Black Spot

My roses are suffering from this triple threat.  With a cool, wet spring and having been mostly ignored, the danger deepens.  The aphids seem to multiply exponentially, small, unassuming and  insidious.  The caterpillars hungrily munch, munch, munch, without the good manners to finish one leaf before moving on to the next.  Black spot is here to stay, and it’s not going away.  So what is a gardener to do with uncooperative weather and organic methods?  This is what I did.  Aphids first  get flicked off with my finger—ping, zing, zap, I send them sailing.  I have been known to knock off a bud or two with this technique, but it’s very satisfying to get physical with those bad bugs.  I also made the citrus solution from an earlier blog, and added a few drops of liquid soap to the spray bottle.  I soaked the aphids with the liquid, but it possibly wasn’t strong enough as they were still sticking on a few hours later.  The caterpillar I picked out of his soft curly leaf bed and told him he could sleep on asphalt tonight.  Black spot is more of a challenge.  The tiny spores of this fungal infection are invisible and pervasive.  There was one caterpillar, maybe 50 aphids, but fungal spores?  Who knows….hundreds…thousands….millions??!!    The important thing is to stop the black spot from spreading, since it’s impossible to make it disappear.  First I clipped off the infected leaves (I’m horrified to say it’s my floribunda ‘Julia Child’ suffering this catastrophe because—confession time—I put her pot in a poor spot.  Too shady, moist, confined.  Now she’s moved!  Out in the open, waiting for the sun.)  Next I will spray with a neem oil like Rose Defense, made by Green Light.  This has worked well for me in the past, stopping the disease from taking over.  Remember, look at your plants frequently.   Give them your attention, or something else will get to them first!

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