Japanese Beetle observations: what roses do they love best?

Rosecandy VA, zone 7July 31, 2014

This is my second year with roses and my first year with roses during japanese beetle season (last year they were too small for the beetles to notice). I noticed, as I picked the beetles and clipped the blooms and buds (boohoo!) that certain roses were more covered in them than others. None of my roses were badly affected until they had buds and/or blooms. I don't spray anything in my garden.

Deep Secret, Midnight Blue, and Ebb Tide seemed to be their favorites, as a "ball" of beetles covered buds and flowers and leaves were munched considerably. Midnight Blue's buds were left alone and Deep Secret was their favorite until I clipped the buds and blooms.

Stainless Steel and Kashmir were the next favorite with several beetles eating their flowers. Kashmir had a few leaves eaten and they loved eating Stainless's buds.

My Girl was liked for a time, though they didn't seem to like her flowers they did chew a bit on her leaves. I knocked them off once and they have since left her alone.

Iceberg was totally ignored, but she has had major blackspot issues since I got her. So far she's not living up to her reputation and I guess the beetles were less than impressed also.

One of my Midnight blue roses was also left alone. She has been losing her leaves (I thought to blackspot, but now I think potassium deficiency) and I wonder if that affected the beetle's decision to ignore her.

Hot cocoa, Paint the Town, Yellow Brick Road, Midas Touch, Neptune, and Sunrise at Heirloom have not been touched.

I don't know if they like Moonlight Magic as a deer ate the blooms that were forming. So far they have left her alone.

A couple of my "not touched" roses (including Stainless) had a beetle chew a few holes in their leaves throughout the season, but it wasn't enough to be mentioned.

The glossier the leaves are on my roses the less the beetles seem to like them. I wonder if this is a coincidence or if it's something to consider? Also, they're ignoring all my bright, vibrant roses (Sunrise at Heirloom, Midas Touch, Yellow Brick Road, My Girl, and Paint the Town). Could it be that we in japanese beetle land can have some roses during their season?

Paint the Town has both very glossy leaves and a vibrant bloom - and both are completely ignored by the beetles (and every other insect, actually) dispite being next to Kashmir and only 8 feet away from Deep Secret.

So how about you? What have you observed about these horrible beetles? Is there any pattern in their decimation?

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seil zone 6b MI

I've found they usually like the lighter colors best here. Tiffany has been hit the hardest. I don't see them much at all in the darker ones and I don't think I've ever found any in the dark reds at all. Maybe they're color blind?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 4:39PM
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wirosarian_z4b_WI

I have 125-130 rose bushes & the only 2 roses I've seen them leave alone are 'Lavaglut' & 'Ramblin' Red'. I have a bad JB infestation in my area because I'm 2 blocks from a large, irrigated University athletic field. Some years the JB population is so bad that they eat the summer cycle rose buds before they even open. And it isn't just flowers & buds, they also skeletonize the leaves of my old garden roses that don't repeat & aren't in bloom with the JB's show up. They seem to start on the fragrant, light colored roses first but once they find your rose garden, pretty much everything is fair game.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 5:19PM
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AnneCecilia z5 MI

WIrosarian is correct and it's pretty much like asking what can I plant that the deer won't eat? The answer is, it doesn't matter much because it depends on what they feel like that evening and if they can reach it, it's fair game. Same with the beetles, which begins here with rose chafers, different in appearance to JB's but oh, so alike in appetite. RC's emerge same time as the first roses begin to bloom. Early or late, I don't know how they time it but they time it right. Yellow's are goners for sure, followed by white and pink roses. Fragrance simply draws them in like a magnet, all of which means my old garden roses get devoured. Reds and dark colors will get eaten sometimes too, poor Bayse's Purple and scarlet red Eddie's Jewel this year being prime examples of apparently delicious petals.
After a month or so of the rose chafers, the JB's continue the assault, basically following the same preferences. My poor Polereis has not had an undamaged bloom all year. And some roses like Morden Sunrise have leaves that are entirely skeletonized. Yes, once they've found your garden, more beetles will come. They send out chemical signals to advertise the bounty they've discovered. But do you know which rose in my garden seems untouched by either evil beetle? Yup, the Double Knock Out that the previous owners had planted. Figures, doesn't it?

And so far, neither bug is interested in my daylilies. Small wonder why the number of DL's I grow is fast approaching and ready to surpass my roses! At least diverging into other collections allows me to separate and mix the roses in between other plants. Sometimes that helps a few rose blooms to escape detection here and there. My worst garden for damage is the strip along side the garage (facing east and prime rose territory) where I planted a long bed of mixed yellow rose varieties and purple and blue tall bearded iris behind. This was planned and planted before I realized the rose chafers here in the village are just as bad as they were out in the country where I was surrounded by hundreds of acres of fallow fields (their prime breeding ground.) And it was before I knew I ALSO had Japanese beetles here to contend with. That bed will have to be dug and redone at some point because it's just too painful to see all the damage there in a row with nothing else to look on.

Cheery, no? Still, I continue to tend my (fewer) roses and hope for the best. Maybe NEXT year, the beetle count will be lower and I'll see more blooms....hope (and gardening) springs eternal!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 7:48PM
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DrPekeMom

I have a theory: they seem to like my Asian lilies more than my roses. That said, they still get on those roses, but I've been picking them off my lillies assiduously. They are so gross!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 10:53AM
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jazzmom516(Zone 7 LI, NY)

Saw two of them on my 'Molineux' rose, a yellow rose about a month ago.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 1:19PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Beetle traps incorporate rose scent for the ladies plus female JB pheromones for the gents, and a blob of yellow for a visual target.

If you have fragrant roses in bloom, the scent will attract beetles to the yard, and then they home in visually to blobs of bright color, generally preferring lighter colors to orange, deep purple, and red, but also preferring whichever plants are prominently placed and in full bloom. Removing all the flowers before buds open will reduce the JB traffic in your yard. Gathering beetles every day and bagging them will cut down on the female sex attractant in the air.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 4:48PM
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ken-n.ga.mts(7a/7b)

In my neck of the woods, every rose in the garden was fair game this year. Even Pink Pet was destroyed. And they have never touched Pink Pet before. They'll be gone in a few weeks and I can start cutting back for the fall.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2014 at 5:21PM
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Rosecandy VA, zone 7

Oh well, it was worth a shot asking! Thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 6:35AM
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DrPekeMom

I take my racquetball racquet to them and swat them out of the air. I look like a crazy person but it sure does add steps to my little fitbit counter thingy.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 6:53PM
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kentucky_rose zone 6

Some of the JB 's favorites in my garden are: PJPII, South Africa, & Beverly.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 7:07PM
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