Sowing sunflower seeds is one of the subtle reminders that summer is near. Although, after sunflower seeds are sown 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 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 struggling to sprout to change from a green shade to a yellow shade.
Snails And Slugs
These slimy slow animals love to feed on 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.
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, they can be easily identified as the culprit as they often leave their dungs behind.
9 Ways To Stop Pests From Eating Your Sunflower Seedlings
1. Spread A Net Over The Seedlings To Keep Birds Away
If birds are eating the 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. Moreover, you can create a three-dimension net fence with a net covering around the planted area to keep birds away completely.
2. Use Rodent Repellants Against Rabbits And Squirrels
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.
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 feed on the aphids. Natural predators you can use for this purpose are parasitic wasps, lacewings, and lady beetles.
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. 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, resist spraying with pesticides because seedlings are too young to be exposed to the chemicals. Moreover, pesticides will destroy both aphids and beneficial insects. You can also spray with neem oil and horticultural oil to keep away insect pests.
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 in a bowl of soapy water to destroy. 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 being hunted. Apply diatomaceous earth around the young sprouts. Doing so will tear their belly apart after they crawl over diatomaceous earth.
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
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 slug 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 into a beautiful mature plant with bright yellow flowers.