THIS BUD’S NOT FOR YOU
By: Ted W. Mills. ARS Consulting Rosarian and Judge
A well-known brewery uses the slogan: “this bud’s for you” to promote its leading product. The buying public readily recognizes it. This may be good for the drinking crowd but a certain bud whose surname is worm does not enjoy the positive response among dedicated rosarians who enjoy growing roses. In fact, they detest this bud’s arrival on the scene. Next to the Japanese beetle, nothing causes more ruin to roses than does this voracious insect.
Budworms are but one species of the caterpillar. These harmful critters attack a number of plants but are particularly fond of feasting on rosebuds. In the case of roses, the mother moth laying the egg knows exactly where the egg should be deposited. She wants to make sure that her offspring will have ready access to food. Hence, the egg is placed not far from the awaiting bud. As soon as hatching is completed, the larvae commences its ravaging destruction of the forming rosebud. Many prize roses have never made it to the rose show because their future beauty was derailed by hungry budworms.
Having just battled vigorously to combat Japanese beetles, it was an equally bitter struggle to eradicate the spoils of budworm infestation. My labor seemed endless but victory over the onslaught was finally accomplished. Not much is written about budworms, but eliminating them is just as important as blackspot eradication. Let’s look at some of the ways that budworms can be prevented or eliminated.
It seems that this culprit generally arrives in late summer or early fall in my area. The rosarian should be aware of their arrival schedule. Be alert to moths flittering to and fro above your precious rose bushes. We should realize that their goal is to replenish the surroundings with a new crop of offspring. Installation of zap lights will inflict sudden death to the winged creatures that are drawn to the illuminated light fixture during darkness. In large rose gardens multiple zap lights are installed to cover the entire rose crop. Naturally the demise of the moths will ensure that the eggs will not be laid, thus no larvae.
Inspection of the forming rose buds is a daily requirement. Watch for signs of worm infestation early on so that immediate action can be taken to rid the garden of this harmful pest. Do any of the rose buds have pierced holes? Is there sap running from the bud? Are the buds malformed? These are sure signs that budworm larvae are present. Of course the affected bud will need to be deadheaded since the resultant bloom will be distorted. However, the rest of the buds can be protected if immediate action is taken.
Since budworms are very harmful caterpillars, it is proper that we turn our attention to proven control. We want something that will eradicate them swiftly. Fortunately, there are products that can do just that. Let me give you my experience in controlling these pests. Several years ago I was introduced to a product called Thuricide. It is but one of the name brands that contain the active ingredient called Bacillus thuringiensis – – often referred to as simply Bt. There are other brand name products that contain the same active ingredient. My experience with Thuricide was satisfactory and controlled the budworms. Of late I have used another product called Dipel Pro DF. Both these products are biological insecticides and when ingested by the larvae prove certain death. The budworms begin to shrivel, blacken, and expire rather quickly after ingestion. Bt infused products attack only caterpillar worms by making them sick to death and are harmless to helpful insects and humans as well. Other effective products are Conserve, Talstar, and Mavrik, to name only a few.
As you attack the problem of budworms, the key action is to apply treatment promptly. Keep a close eye on the buds and at the first sight of the symptoms mentioned, apply remedial action before the infestation becomes rampant. As with all insecticides, use care in handling and adhere closely to the directions on the product’s container.
Yes, this bud (worm) is not to be tolerated. The rosarian must exert the same degree of diligent action as if it were a plague of blackspot, spider mites, or the ravenous Japanese beetle. Your roses will applaud your care and produce the spectacular beauty we rosarians enjoy.