How To Stop Sunflower Seedlings From Being Eaten?

Young sunflower seedlings in a wooden planter with rich soil, promising growth and vitality.

Sowing sunflower seeds is one of the subtle reminders that summer is near.

Although, after you have sown sunflower seeds in the garden, pest invasion of the seedlings is common. When the plant is just sprouting, common pests that like to eat sunflower seedlings are birds, snails, slugs, aphids, rabbits, and squirrels. Although, for sunflowers grown in flowering pots and taken indoors, birds and rodents may not have access to them. However, insect pests one way or the other know how to find their way indoors to have a taste of the juicy green sprouts.

Hence, listed below are common pests that feed on sunflower seedlings and nine effective ways to stop them from being eaten.

Common Pests That Eat Sunflower Seedlings


Doves, sparrows, blackbirds, grosbeaks, and finches are amongst the variety of birds that love to gobble sunflower seedlings. These birds often frustrate plant owners by uprooting the young sprouts for a nice meal. They are very sneaky animals and may be difficult to stop since the air is in their orbit.


As much as Aphids love grown sunflowers, they also like feeding on the young sprouts. It may be impossible to notice these insects at first because they usually hibernate underneath the leaves. Of course, you will notice the havoc they wreak when they increase and continue to suck the sap in the leaf tissues. Moreover, their feeding activity causes the young leaves to struggle to sprout to change from a green shade to a yellow shade.

Snails And Slugs

These slimy slow animals love to feed on sunflower leaves, and sunflower seedlings are one of their favorites. They often chew irregularly shaped holes across the veins in the leaves. Also, they feed mostly at night, so it’s difficult to catch them in the act during the day.


Young sunflower is frequently eaten by small mammals, and it can be challenging to identify the animals unless you catch them in the act, can identify their tracks, or can find their droppings. Both rabbits and squirrels are notorious for feeding on numerous plants, including sunflower seedlings. They sniff out the young green sprouts and nibble on them until they are short and left with only the roots. Moreover, you can easily identify them as the culprit as they often leave their dung behind.

9 Ways Of Protecting Your Sunflower Seedlings From Being Eaten

1. Spread A Net Over The Seedlings To Protect From Birds

If birds are eating sunflower leaves and seedlings, spread a net or wire web over them for protection. That way, the birds cannot easily uproot the young plants. Besides, the birds can’t go under the net too.

In order to prevent birds from crawling under the mesh, you can cover freshly planted areas with netting or wire mesh that is close to the ground. Moreover, you can create a three-dimension net fence with a net covering the planted area to keep birds away completely. Alternatively, scare birds away by using fake snakes, owls, or whirling, moving objects.

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Another method that might work is to plant stakes close to the plant and decorate them with foil or brightly colored streamers.

2. Use Rodent Repellants Against Rabbits And Squirrels

Many different substances have the ability to keep squirrels away from your plants without endangering them. You won’t need to use potentially harmful pesticides or herbicides to keep your garden free of weeds and insects, in comparison to controlling weeds and insects. Rabbits and squirrels can be kept away by applying blood meal or powdered fox urine around the planted area. Also, you can use garlic or spicy pepper to repel rodents.

That way, you can keep them from eating the sunflower seedlings without killing them, especially when you have rabbits as pets.

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3. Use Natural Predators Against Aphids

Aphids can be easily stopped from eating your young plants by using natural predators to control them. These predators keep aphids away from the leaves by feeding on the aphids. Natural predators you can use for this purpose are parasitic wasps, lacewings, and ladybeetles.

4. Spray The Seedlings With Water To Forcefully Evict Aphids

You can spray the seedlings heavily with water to remove the aphids from the leaves. After the insects fall off, collect them into a bowl of soapy water or alcohol to destroy them. Moreover, spray with water only early in the morning so the young plants can dry before evening. Additionally, allowing them to dry is critical because damp plants generally attract slugs and snails.

5. Spray Insecticidal Soap To Keep Away Aphids

A recommended way to destroy a large number of aphid feeding on your sunflower seedlings is to spray with insecticidal soap. On the other hand, you should resist spraying pesticides because seedlings are too young for chemical exposure. Moreover, pesticides will destroy both aphids and beneficial insects.

You can also spray with neem oil and horticultural oil to keep away insect pests. Furthermore, there are also a few natural repellents that are effective, such as those made with garlic, or hot peppers.

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6. Hand-pick Snails And Slugs

Snails and slugs eating the sunflower seedling can be found in the evenings. Hence, you can hand-pick them and drop them in a bowl of soapy water to destroy them. Also, try to keep the planted area clean of fallen leaves to prevent the snails and slugs from having hiding spots.

7. Use Diatomaceous Earth To Destroy Snails And Slugs

As slow as snails are, they are cunning and smart, especially when they know they are the target of your hunting. Apply diatomaceous earth around the young sprouts. Doing so will tear their belly apart after they crawl over diatomaceous earth.

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8. Use Scarecrows To Chase Birds Away

A classical method to keep birds away from eating the sunflower seedlings is to use scarecrows to chase them away. Erect a stick in the middle of the planting area and place a pot facing upside down on top of the stick. Wrap a ragged shirt around the stick to make it look like a dressed-up human to the birds.

9. Fence The Planted Area With An Electric Barrier To Keep Pests Away

You can keep out larger animals in your garden by erecting a tall fence that fits snugly against the ground. Protecting the sunflower seedlings with an electric cooper barrier can help to keep away rabbits, squirrels, and other rodents. Moreover, that will minimize the population of snails and slugs feeding on them as the slimy animals won’t be able to crawl over the barrier.

The Best Way To Stop Sunflower Seedlings From Being Eaten

The most effective method to stop your sunflower from being eaten depends on the pest that’s feeding on them. Hence, it is imperative first to identify the animal eating them. After, you can use non-lethal methods to prevent birds, snails, and rodents from eating the sunflower seedling.

A few examples of the non-lethal method include: using scarecrows, electric barrier, rodent repellant, and hand-picking snails. For an invasion by insect pests, try to use the natural predators to control first before going for any spraying with insecticides.

Moreover, whatever method you use to stop insects from eating your sunflower seedlings, make sure the insects are destroyed to prevent them from reproducing.

Lastly, take proper care of the young sprouts so they can thrive in beautiful mature plants with bright yellow flowers.


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