Bugs eating my rose leaves. Any idea who?
This is my first post on this forum and I hope you can give me some information. I live near Dallas, Texas. This is my first year to have roses. They have not been sprayed. This is my first encounter with bugs. Four days ago I noticed that something was eating good sized holes in the leaves on two rose bushes. I closely inspected both roses at that time and could not find any critters. The next morning I was shocked to see how many leaves had been eaten in the night. There were lots of leaves that consisted of more holes than leaf. Again, daytime inspection did not reveal any beetles, bugs, or caterpillars. That night I donned a headlamp and took a tupperware bowl of soapy water outside to find and drown the offenders. I was astounded to see that the rose leaves were covered with small dark brown with a very slight metallic sheen, hard bodied, beetle-ish looking bugs, all were about 1/4 inch long, oval shaped body, not a long skinny bug. They have the ability to fly, but are not fast movers. They did not make any attempt to evade me while I picked them off the leaves and put them in the soapy water. I hand picked over 100 bugs off of the two aforementioned roses, and a few bugs off of nearby roses that had previously not had any leaf damage. Last night I picked off more of the same bugs, but the population was significantly reduced. I just came in from removing about 20 bugs from the roses. Again, a significant reduction in population. No other plants in my yard are being eaten. I have looked in one Texas bug book and one general bug book and have googled to find out the identity of this bug, but can't find a critter that matches the description, feeding habits, and season of activity. They do not seem very interested in the rose flowers. They prefer the newer leaves, but some of the older leaves have damage, also. The bugs eat large holes in the leaves, finally decimating the entire leaf. They have eaten entire outcroppings of newly emerging leaves down to the stems.
I know photos would be immensely helpful, but I can't provide them at this time. I hope that the above detailed descriptions are enough to ID this pest.
Does anyone have any clues who this bug is and how long he'll be around? My preference is not to kill off my beneficial insects with chemicals. However, I believe there could be a point where the health of the rose is compromised. And honestly, handpicking bugs every night is not how I want to spend my time longterm. If I could get an identification, then I could select the most effective, least toxic method of elimination. But I guess I've already got that with hand picking. ;)
Thanks for any help you can provide.
On a side note: The last three nights of hand picking bugs has significantly reduced my aversion to touching the critters. I guess this is a good thing? ha!