The Q&A Archives: Bearded Iris Destroyed by Insects

Question: I have some bearded iris that were attacked last year by some sort of insect that chopped the iris down at the base. Almost like the way a saw takes down a tree. Do you know what kind of insect this might be? I could not locate any pest on the plant. And I'm not sure how to treat this problem. I greatly appreciate any advice you could give me. Thanks! Sheila Corbitt Andover, MA

Answer: I wonder if your iris leaves are being "chopped down" by slugs or snails--since they tend to come out at night, it makes sense that you have not seen them. To deter slugs, remove any dead leaves and debris around your planting. Don't mulch your bed--mulch provides a perfect hiding place for slugs. You might try sprinkling diatomaceous earth around and under your plants--though you will have to reapply this after any rain. And, of course, you can go outside at night with a flashlight and hand-pickthe critters!

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