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CULT: Iris Borer


I wouldn't have believed it had I not seen it with my own eyes. 
 
Here in Phoenix, we do not get iris borers, and I had never seen one in my life except for pictures.
 
Well, this morning I went outside to notice the fan of one of my favorite irises SCOONCHIE (Desantis '98) was laying over on the ground.  The center leaf was munched on by something, and I thought to myself, "I have an IRIS BORER!!!" 
 
I pulled the leaves gently and they came clean away from the rhizome, rotted where it had been attached.  I thought I had better pull the rhizome.
 
I got a spade and lifted it out, and sure enough, along the top of the rhizome was a canal that led to a catapillar like thing - but it did not look like the borer that is pictured in The Gardener's Iris Book , by Bill Shear - page 55 in the edition I have.
 
This one was similar in appearance, except for the color.  Instead of being pinkish-white, this one was clearly a dark grey color, with a black head.  I might even go so far as to say it was grey with slight green, and the body was not as segmented as the picture in the book - for it was more smooth. 
 
Of course I wondered how it got there, but I did purchase many irises from outside my own state this year, a thing I had never before done. 
 
All the irises I planted were trimmed and shaved, and I took a brush to them to remove as much dirt as possible.  They were all allowed to dry for a minimum of two weeks - but much of them were drying much longer.  SCOONCHIE was out of the ground two months.
 
My questions are:
 
If what I found chomping on the rhizome is NOT a borer, then what is it?  Do borers come in different colors? Could a borer egg survive the trip to Phoenix and hatch here and survive until planted?  Could the different climate, soil, and AZ grown rhizome give the borer a different appearance?
 
Any info would be helpful...In the mean time, the rhizome is drying, tomorrow I will cut off the rot, soak in bleach solution, and allow to dry three days and then replant. Only 10-20% was eaten, and there are three pups coming out of the sides. It is still 90 degrees here during the day - so not too late to plant irises I hope.
 
Patrick Orr
Zone 9 Region 15
 
 
 
 




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