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Aphids are tiny insects that feed on the buds of roses during early spring, and also have a taste for other flowers like hibiscus. An infestation can lead to quite ugly first blooms at the beginning of the rose season, and most people would like to see their roses free of these bugs. There are many methods for reducing their spread, most of them simple to employ.
Because aphids typically disappear within about a month, you can choose to simply ignore them. Usually, roses that are well fed survive an infestation and go on to produce beautiful blooms throughout the summer. Sickly roses may be more vulnerable to destruction, so keeping roses fed, watered, and healthy is the first line of defense.
Some people prefer to use pesticides, and in most cases, spraying with malathion will destroy an aphid population. Malathion is, however, quite toxic, and may destroy the harmony of an outdoor garden that depends on bees, moths, and birds to pollinate imperfect flowers. This pesticide can destroy bee populations and is best avoided to maintain overall garden health. Insecticidal soap can be used, but it is time consuming and may also hurt helpful garden insects. Fortunately, there are some alternatives that are far safer to use.
Eucalyptus oil can be sprayed directly onto roses to reduce infestation. It will not kill the bugs, but it tends to discourage them. Additionally, rubbing cut cloves of garlic on buds also discourages the insects. Dishwashing soap, water, and oil can be combined to create a nontoxic bug spray as well. Spraying in all areas of an infestation will often kill the bugs.
Planting garlic around roses before spring, and the first assault of aphids, can cause the insects to disregard the roses, as garlic naturally repels them. You can also remove the insects by hand or direct a hard spray of water at them to hit them off the rose. While the hand method will not harm the flowers, the water method can often cause damage to the developing buds, and may do as much harm to the flowers as the insects would.
If you have young children who are interested in bugs, you may want to purchase ladybugs, which are readily available at most gardening retailers in early spring. The ladybugs come in mesh bags and must be released after sunset, or they will not stay on the plant. Aphids are fine dining for ladybugs, who will quickly go to work, naturally removing the insects for you.
The ladybugs must be released within a day or two of purchase, and they tend to leave if it begins to rain, so timing their release is important. On few occasions, ladybugs do bite, though this is usually only associated with swarms. In most cases, they are happy to crawl around on your hand without aggressive behavior. Children are often particularly fond of the ladybug, so this may be the most fun way of dealing with aphids, as well as one of the easiest.