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Garden Q&A: Those aren’t wild strawberries and those are rose slugs eating your roses

Indian strawberries are not in fact strawberries but a fast-growing, invasive plant. Pull them if you see them.
Indian strawberries are not in fact strawberries but a fast-growing, invasive plant. Pull them if you see them. (Ellen Nibali/For The Baltimore Sun)

I’m getting a bumper crop of these fuzzy wild strawberries. Are they edible?

These aren’t edible. They aren’t even strawberries. They are an entirely different species passing for strawberries.

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Indian (as in India) mock strawberries are a fast-growing, invasive weed. They send out runners like a real strawberry plant, however their blossoms are a tip-off. They are yellow, not white like real strawberries.

Pull the plants as soon as you can. Until you can, pull the “strawberries” so they don’t seed everywhere.

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Something is eating my roses. I can’t find what’s doing it. The leaves are starting to look like lace. Anything I can do that doesn’t harm birds, bees, etc.?

Rose slugs are cleverly camouflaged exactly the same color as rose leaves. The small green “worms” are not slugs at all, but larvae (immature forms) of sawflies, non-stinging members of the wasp family.

Once you know what to look for, you’ll spot them. The three species of rose slugs may be hanging out above or underneath leaves. Rose slugs can be controlled by handpicking. They also can be removed by spraying with water.

Once dislodged, they cannot climb back onto the plant. Insecticidal soap, horticultural oil and spinosad (a microbial insecticide) are also effective against rose slugs. Thoroughly spray both upper and lower leaf surfaces. They will continue to hatch over the summer, so keep an eye out for more.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

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