What Eats Iris?

Iris plants are distinctly beautiful, available in a number of styles and colors, and overall, are a pretty low-maintenance plant. In other words, they’re a delight as far as we gardeners are concerned! 

But what happens when the unthinkable occurs and your iris becomes laden with holes or goes missing altogether? That’s right – something’s been eating away at it! But what, exactly? 

So, what eats Iris? Iris plants have long been a proven feast for many animals and insects. Moles, rabbits, and squirrels are the main animal culprits, whilst aphids, mites, Iris borer caterpillars, crickets, moths, slugs, and snails, are the insects that pose the most risk. 

Keep reading for more information on which animals and insects could be chowing down on your plants, along with ways to deter them from doing so again!

What Is Eating My Iris?


Moles are burrowing mammals that are known for destroying lawns and gardens.

They typically feed on grubs, insects, and worms, but they may also eat your iris plants if they are nearby.

Moles typically appear during spring and fall, so you should be especially vigilant during these times.


If you notice that your iris plants are being eaten, it may be because rabbits have nested nearby and are feeding their babies.

They’re in pursuit of as many nutrients as they can find, and your irises, unfortunately, take the brunt.

Unsurprisingly, they’ll munch away at every part of the iris without a second thought.


Squirrels are omnivores and will happily munch through a wide array of different plants. Irises are no exception.

The worst thing is that they don’t even particularly enjoy them.

They’ll simply eat the plants if they’re in their vicinity, but without any real appreciation for their texture or taste. 

Additionally, squirrels will sometimes even dig your irises up too.

They cause considerable damage in the process, although it’s worth noting that they do so unintentionally in an attempt to burrow holes in which to hide their all-important winter stash of food. 

Irus Brer Caterpillars

These are perhaps the most formidable insect predator.

Frustratingly, they chew right the way through the leaves, even proceeding to chew through into the rhizome of the plant.

This results in the tips of the iris leaves turning brown, making the plant appear that it is dying. Thankfully, the entire plant will rarely be killed. 

Snails and Slugs

If they’re hungry, which they usually are, snails will devour your iris plants without a second thought.

Their nocturnal nature means that they primarily attach at night time.

Their main subjects are the plant’s leaves and flowers, on which you’ll find holes where they’ve been chewing and slimy trails alike. 

Aphids and Spider Mites

Both aphids and spider mites are also keen invaders of iris plants.

Both of these critters suck the sap out of irises, consequently depleting them of key nutrients that they require to thrive and, more holistically speaking, to survive.

Their infestations are deadly and can be easily spotted by a tired, wilting iris with discolored foliage. 

Crickets and Moths

Are other insects fond of Iris. 

They typically consume a large amount of the flower foliage if they are not removed or prevented. 

How Can I Stop My Irises From Being Eaten?

You’re in luck! There are several solutions that you can adopt to deter animals and insects from eating your beloved irises.

Read on to learn more.  

Install Sharp Edges

One way to stop slugs and snails from eating your plants is to surround the roots with an abrasive substance such as crushed eggshells, gravel, or even coffee grounds.

The sharp-edged nature of these substances will repel the snails and slugs from the vicinity of your irises. 

By Hand

If you prefer, you may want to remove the slugs and snails by hand!

Doing so is as easy as picking them off the iris plants and dropping them into a bucket of soapy water.

This approach is evidently a pretty hands-on one and a favorite amongst many budding gardeners.

Use Scent Deterrents

Whilst irises are often associated with a fairly musty aroma; it’s not always powerful enough of a repellent.

Here’s where the use of alternative scent deterrents could help!

For instance, slugs and snails dislike lavender and rosemary, and moles and squirrels dislike cayenne pepper and castor oil.

Hence, playing these substances in some form around your irises will do a good job of repelling them from the area.

Set Up A Physical Barrier

Another effective solution is to install a physical barrier around your irises. A fence, for instance.

Provided it’s high enough, coming in at least 3 ft, it will deter rabbits from accessing the plants.

It’s also worth ensuring that the fence has an underground presence of around 1 ft to stop burrowing animals, such as moles, in their tracks too! 

With Water

Hosing down aphids and spider mites away is the best way to get rid of them.

By applying a strong water stream to your iris plant, you’ll knock both of these pests right off it.

Just be sure to take action as soon as you suspect an invasion because aphids reproduce quickly, and you’ll never really know how many spider mites you’re dealing with due to their tiny size! 

Using Insecticides

Whether homemade of store-bought, insecticides are of course an option to limit or kill of a number of different bug-predators.

Crickets, aphids and moths are such examples of those insecticide will work against.

How Do I Get My Iris Plants To Flower Again?

Iris plants are perennials intended to bloom year and year again during the Summer months.

However, pest invasions prove to be problematic and significantly inhibit their ordinary growth cycles.

Remove Any Pests

Your primary endeavor to care for your irises should be removing said pests or, better yet, preventing them.

You can use the above solutions provided to do so. 

Optimize Growing Location/Conditions

Next, make sure you fully understand how best to care for irises, even in lieu of pests.

Essentially, it is critical that you plant them in a location where they’ll be able to thrive.

They need well-drained soil and full sun. Fertilizer can offer you a helping hand too.

It should be utilized around two months prior to their expected initial flowering and again only once the flowering season has ceased. 

Deadhead Your Iris

Finally, though often overlooked as a simple garden task, deadheading iris plants is essential to their healthy growth and health and should be undertaken during the months of Autumn.

By removing spent flowers from the center of the plant, you’ll promote better air circulation and prevent the spread of disease.

Additionally, removing spent flowers allows for more sunlight to reach the center of the plant, which encourages stronger growth and faster flowering when Summer comes around. 

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