Organic Treatment for Rose Midge?

angelonia_anne Stewart Mancuso(z5NY)August 24, 2004

Does anyone know of an organic treatment for Rose Midge?

I have it really bad. None of my roses have bloomed this year!


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Sophie Wheeler

Heck, a chemical treatment doesn't even exist anymore since Diazanon was banned.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2004 at 8:08AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Not many products have been tested for midge control. You need an organic insecticide with residual action that works on ingestion rather than on contact. I can think of two things to try.

Azadirachtin neem extract (not neem oil) sold as Azatin or Bio-Neem. Any kind of insect feeding on this material becomes unable to go through the stages of growth and reproduction. It doesn't kill immediately, but the midge larva are short-lived anyway. You would be preventing future generations.

Spinosad, sold as Conserve SC, Gardens Alive Bullseye (online), and Fertilome Borer, Bagworm [etc] Killer. This is an insecticide of natural origin and relatively safe.

I would use one of these in a spray bottle and go around twice a week squirting just the growth tips, young flower buds, and growth buds emerging from the leaf axils. That sounds tedious, but if you don't have a big garden, it is feasible. I would alternate the two products because midge, with their fast reproductive cycle, evolve resistance rapidly.

A mechanical control is suggested at a couple of reputable sites. After feeding on the shoots, the midge larvae drop to the ground or organic mulch to pupate in tiny cocoons. If you cover the soil with a plastic sheet under the whole plant canopy, they are exposed and unable to pupate. This might be too ugly except for a cutting garden tucked away somewhere.

If you try any of these suggestions, I would appreciate hearing the outcome.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2004 at 3:54PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Updating, I learned that azadirachtin neem extract has been trialed and labeled for rose midge.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2004 at 12:26PM
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nancyd(5/Rochester, NY)

I feel your pain. RM is a horrible insect and will wreak havoc on a rose garden in no time. I've had limited success with Bio-Neem. Whatever spray you use you have to keep spraying all summer because I've never been able to eradicate midge this way. The trick is to apply the pesticide to the soil, not the plant. RM are very small and able to bury themselves in the new plant growth. It's when they drop to the ground is when you want to catch them. Their growth cycle is every 3-4 days so you have to be persistent in your applications or it's a continual cycle and why you have no roses this year. They are very difficult to treat effectively on the plant. A soil control is the key I think and I've heard the black plastic idea before. It's worth a try and makes sense. Also, with RM it's essential to keep a very clean rose garden. Do a thorough inspection every few days and have a small bucket with you. Pick off all the damaged buds, leaves and tips and throw them out in a closed container away from the garden, don't toss them on the ground.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2004 at 2:23PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

NancyD is right about promptly removing any damaged or suspicious growth tips and bagging them.

I don't have the experience she has, but I think the azadirachtin product ought (or ought also) to be applied to the foliage. It is persistent and works by ingestion, so larvae hatching and burrowing into the new growth would eat it and be unable to go through their metamorphosis. Possibly soil application could be helpful too.

I notice that Oregon State is recommending spinosad as well as azadirachtin as controls. The Department of Horticulture there seems to be interested in this problem.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2004 at 3:21PM
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I don't have anything to add to this except to thank Holly Springs and MichaelG. for always taking the time to answer questions on this forum. It seems that not everyone is interested in trying to do things organically, even though it is not always successful. I, for one, really appreciate the time taken to answer some of these questions. - Barb

    Bookmark   September 16, 2004 at 8:39PM
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yogafemme(CA z9/sunset 17)

I too, want to thank the responders for that information. I just started growing roses for the last year, and was mystified when one of my new plants seemed really leggy, with burned leaf tips (only) and no buds!

So, I'd like to add that Conserve SC looks great, but it is REALLY expensive. $115 for a quart. Yikes!

I searched gardensalive for bullseye, but haven't found it yet. I have plenty of neem oil, but have just learned that high azadiractin content is necessary for midge control. (I have Fungicide 3, which is neem oil, and Bon-Neem, but neither product mentions the azadiractin content.) If you search on "azadiractin" and "neem" however, you get a number of sites that sell high azadiractin neem.

I am also wondering if using beneficial nematodes would be a good long-term control?

Gosh! I have only one rose plant affected and now I'm gonna worry all damn day about the others. What a freak I am! :-)


    Bookmark   September 24, 2004 at 2:18PM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

Patricia, I would be hesitant to diagnose midge in California, as it isn't common, but Baldo Villegas says there is some in Northern California.

On the West Coast, look for a spinosad insect control bottled by Monterey. It may be a better deal. Or here is the link for Bulls-Eye spinosad.

I think Green Light has an azadirachtin product as well as their neem oil product, which does not contain azadirachtin. Azatin is another brand.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bulls-Eye

    Bookmark   September 25, 2004 at 12:13PM
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I have heard increasing reports of rose midge in areas of California lately, including southern California. It appears to be a growing problem.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2004 at 2:29AM
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michaelg(7a NC Mts)

There is a thread on the Roses Forum, currently p. 3, or seach "diazinon." Henry Kuska cites a scientific source that says application of the predatory nematode Steinerema feltiae has shown promise in controlling rose midge. There is also reference to a study where spinosad sprayed at 14-day intervals was not effective (as were not-organic insecticides). I would guess 14-day intervals are too long for any spray to be effective. In yet another study, frequent applications of pyrethrins or oil + soap were effective on larvae of a related midge on a different crop.

Mr. Kuska believes there may be natural controls that keep midge populations under control in nature and some gardens. In addition to nematodes, tiny parasitic wasps and egg-eating mites are possibilities, but only the nematodes have been demonstrated to prey on rose midge.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2004 at 12:09PM
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The study that Henry cited regarding nematodes and rose midge only reported that "Control/suppression of rose midge has also been reported with soil drenches with parasitic nematodes" but they did not investigate it. While we all hope that this will be a viable control, from the research that I have seen it is premature to state that nematodes have been shown to be efficacious.

Also, depending on the material used, 14 day intervals can work to suppress midge and provide adequate control.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2004 at 5:36PM
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decobug(z6a Idaho SW)

How do you know if rose midge is a problem in your area?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2005 at 2:22AM
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I am a rose midge victim. Two years ago, I applied beneficial nematodes to the soil. I followed all instructions, including keeping them moist and cool all summer as best I could. I also sprayed the soil and plants every week or so with azadiracthin. The results were disappointing, as I only got a few small flowers from my hybrid teas. Last year I skipped the nematodes, merely sprayed with azadiracthin every week and got no flowers from the hybrid teas. I plan to try Bulls Eye this year. I read somewhere in the forums that rugosas and polyanthas tend to resist midges. My new rugosa and polyantha did not have any midge damage last year, but they are some distance from the hybrid teas, so maybe the midges just haven't found them yet. As for the hybrid teas, vigorous plants that really pump out the flowers sometimes manage to bloom despite the midges. My Red Freedoms bloom somewhat despite the midges, but my Tropicanas are hopeless.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 9:47AM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

decobug, the telltale signs of midge will be that the tips of the canes, where there should be buds, look like the ends of burned matchsticks, and are dry and crispy. There is also damage if you see nodding bud heads, and there are what looks like burned marks on the necks just below the buds (this is scraping damage from midge chewing). If left untreated, eventually it will infest every plant, and you will have no blooms.

Midge (tiny, ugly things) lay eggs in new growth. The larvae feeds on the new growth for 3 - 7 days. It then drops to the ground to mature into the adult midge (5 - 7 days), which then flys up to start the cycle over again.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 11:58AM
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decobug(z6a Idaho SW)

Thanks Diane :)

Matchsticks, that a great visual. I don't think I've ever seen anything like that here...

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 2:41AM
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My new rose bush had only 2 buds this year,they just withered and fell off.The leaves are being eaten by a green worm with a red head. What is this little critter?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2006 at 10:29PM
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Last spring I read about soggy, wet, newspapers used underneath instead of a tarp. Supposedly Rose Midges hate soggy ground, and three weeks of it,[to out last their life cycle] will do the trick. Or at least, help a lot. Well, We had two lovely soggy long periods of wet spring, and help from marauding deer, thoughtfully pruning susceptible[?] new growth tips. Maybe that dry period came at two and a half weeks..... We had a few blooms, then came the match stick heads, again. But we did have a few intermittant, blooms. Time to yank the row of three 'old' roses, one is very thorny. How long does it take for the soil to recover without a midge host? Isn't it 'just' 2 or 3 years? Dern those old big box stores, selling infected plants.
Good luck everyone.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 12:31AM
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Herbs, and Vinegar/water spray.
Cedar chips over soggy newspaper.

How about herbs around the edge of the soggy newspaper that goes past the dripline, on a little ridge circle of peat, to lift edges, and give the herbs better drainage? Some repellent ones are catnip/mint, lavender, and rosemary and artemesia, maybe they are traditional under roses for a reason. I've had success with scented geraniums offing mealies from clivia. Santolina, anything lemon scented. You could Google repellent herbs for ones that might do well under your conditions.
Vinegar spray seems to up the bug killing of herbs, and is great against fungi-black spot etc..

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 12:46PM
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Can anybody add their stories of success-- or the opposite? I have one infected rose, The Fairy, and have been battling midge several years. So far midge is confined to this one huge plant but my luck will run out and then the neighbors-- Vanity, Lyda Rose and Lavender Dream-- are likely to fall victim.
I have tried using landscape cloth as a ground barrier & even (awk!) sprayed the foliage with Isotox . Despite the barriers and the fact that this partly shaded area is perpetually wet it looks like the whole plant is infected this year.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2013 at 12:51PM
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