University of Maryland Extension

Rose Slugs - Shrubs

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Slug on leaf
Immature rose slug on leaf
 

Key Points

  • The rose slug is one of three common sawflies that attack roses (others are curled and bristly rose slugs).
  • Adults of all three species resemble wasps and are about 1/4" long.
  • Mature larvae look like caterpillars, but they are not. They are about 1/2" long and yellow-green with yellow heads.
  • The larvae skeletonize the leaves and in heavy infestations can cause leaves to turn brown and curl.
  • Check roses in May and June (in Maryland) for the slug-like, greenish-yellow larvae on the under surface of skeletonized leaves.
  • However, rose slugs can be active through the fall.
  • If the infestation is light, pick off and destroy the larvae.
  • To control heavy infestations, use horticultural oil or spray with spinosad. Target the undersides of the leaves.
  • Control is the same for all three species.


Bristly rose slug larvae are about 5/8" long and greenish white with long, stout bristles. They skeletonize leaves by feeding from the undersides of the leaves and later chew holes through the leaves.

Curled rose slug larvae are metallic green above, marked with white dots, grayish white underneath, with yellow-brown heads. They curl up like a cutworm and are about 3/4" when mature. Curled rose slugs initially feed by skeletonizing the leaves, but eventually defoliate entire leaflets except for the largest veins.

Bristly rose slug larvae are about 5/8" long and greenish white with long, stout bristlesBristly rose slug and feeding damage

Bristly rose slug larvae are about 5/8" long and greenish white with long, stout bristles (left) - They skeletonize leaves by feeding from the undersides of the leaves and later chew holes through the leaves (right)

Coiled rose slugRose slug damage on bud
Coiled rose slug                                                  Rose slug damage on bud 

rose slug damage
Defoliated rose

Rev. 2020

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