Iris borer (Macronoctua onusta) is a pinkish caterpillar with rows of black spots on their sides. When full grown, it is about 2 inches long. The larvae emerge from the ground in April or early May when iris leaves are about 4-6 inches tall. They enter the leaves through tiny pinholes and burrow their way down to the rhizome. By midsummer they eat their way through the rhizome leaving only the outside shell and then return to the soil to pupate. In August-October, iris borer emerges as a night-flying moth with brown front wings and yellow-brown hind wings and a wing span of 2 inches. The moths will then lay creamy white eggs which later turn lavender on foliage or debris which will winterover and start a new lifecycle the following spring.
Early signs of iris borer are disfigured foliage with irregular tunnels in the lower section of the leaf and chewed leaf edges that appear in early spring. Leaves may also have water soaked streaks.
Bacterial soft rot
One of the major problems that iris borer introduces to the leaves and rhizomes is bacterial soft rot (Pecotobacterium carotovorum). Rhizomes become soft, mushy and have an offensive odor. The leaf tips are withered and leaves have long brown streaks or appear water soaked. Bacterial rot can also be introduced through careless cultivation. Crowded, shaded growing conditions can make the plant susceptible to infection. More info on iris..