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Re: CULT: Iris Borer

From: Bill Shear <BILLS@hsc.edu>

Patrick--the most obvious answer is the null hypothesis:  it's not an iris
borer, but some other kind of root-eating insect that just happened to find
that iris.  So far as we know, there is only one species of iris borer, and
it looks like the picture in my book.  However, the habit of boring into
subterranean roots and rhizomes is a common one among insects.

However, there are increasing numbers of reports of borers outside the
usual range.  There seems to be no reason to expect that borers could not
survive in many parts of North America where they do not now occur.
However, borers would be likely to be transported only in company with iris
rhizomes or foliage, and probably only in 'trades' among amateur growers
(because most commercial growers spray the bejesus out of their plants).

So carefully inspect any iris you get from a non-commercial source before
planting them in your garden.  Wash the foliage thoroughly to remove any
possible eggs.

My first brush with borers here (and they remain rather rare, we're a
little south of the usual range) was in a box of plants of I. albicans in
which every rhizome had a borer inside.  The plants were a trade from
another gardener in borer country.  That was 20 years ago.  Borers did not
appear in my garden again until about 4 years ago, when they virtually
wiped out my Louisiana Iris plantings.  Careful cleanup has taken care of
them (mostly) but I still see one or two each year.

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374

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