Bearded Iris Pests

bearded iris: edith woolford image by Brenda Carson from

Bearded irises are a beautiful addition to any flower garden or landscape. They are a bulb plant, so they will come back year after year with very little maintenance. Each of these pests can be controlled and eliminated with a little care, allowing the bearded iris plants to grow to their full potential and beauty.

Insect Pests

famille image by guy from

Unfortunately, bearded iris attracts pests. Bearded iris plants attract aphids, crickets, and other bugs, and small animals like moles and voles. Weeds can also harm bearded iris. Aphids are small green or grey insects that inhabit leafy plants. Crickets eat everything from seeds to clothes and leather. Slugs can travel the entire height of the plant, and they enjoy eating and destroying the flower buds.

Insect Damage

speckled bush cricket image by john barber from

Aphids suck the sap out of plants and leaves. Aphids can transfer diseases between iris plants and destroy them from taking the nutrition from the plant. This causes bearded iris to become deformed or die. Crickets eat holes in the bearded iris plants that create homes for other bugs, such as the pill bug. In addition, they burrow under plants and stones, harming the bulb and roots of iris plants. Crickets reproduce rapidly, and one female can lay 300 eggs at one time, so they can cause significant damage to bearded iris plants. Slugs will eat a plant into the ground, destroying it completely.

Insect Control

slug descending 2 image by Scott Philbrook from

Aphids can be picked off the plant individually and squished, but there are usually thousands on the plant. Introducing lady birds or using an insecticidal or liquid dish soap mix work well to eliminate this pest and protect bearded iris, and it also works for cricket infestation. Slugs should be controlled immediately after they are first sited on bearded iris plants. Slugs are active all year, so even during the winter months; slug prevention methods may be required. Unfortunately, insecticide will not kill slugs. They can be controlled through traps, crushed egg shells, copper wire and sand, and salt, however.


Rodent image by TMakotra from

Because of the denseness of the foliage bearded iris has, small animals are also attracted to them. Voles are a small black-brown or grey-brown rodent that burrows underground in dense foliage. These animals are voracious also, and eat everything they can. They will eat the iris bulbs and the foliage. Moles are the other small animal that is a pest for iris. Moles are burrowing animals also, eating worms and other small bugs and invertebrates. The burrows moles create cause an airflow problem for bulb plants, damaging or destroying the bulb and plant.


weeping iris image by leafy from

Although it is odd to think of weeds as a pest, they are, especially for bearded iris. Weed prevention strategies and practices will control the damage they do on bearded iris plants. Weeds will grow up and suffocate iris bulbs and plants. They can be controlled through regular hand weeding or weed killers. Be careful to choose a weed killer that will not harm the bearded iris plants.