Save my sunflowers from the hungry moths!
July 13, 2011 10:34 AM   Subscribe

Last year, tiny (moth?) larvae ate all my giant sunflowers. What can I do to prevent this from happening again this year?

We never were able to ID the pests definitively, but I do know that they moved in around late July (right after the first flowers had opened, sob) and that they were worms or larvae of some sort. Damage was concentrated mostly in the flowers and seeds-- most of the flowers that appeared post-infestation were deformed, with clumps of black droppings and yucky spiderweb-like material in spots. In the fall, when we examined the few heads that had managed to bloom properly before the critters arrived, it turned out that almost every single seed had been bored through or hollowed out. Stems and leaves had been left mostly untouched.

I've done a huge amount of web sleuthing since then, and while some sites do discuss sunflower moth infestations from an agricultural perspective, there's almost nothing out there offering solutions for the home gardener. I'm not averse to pesticides, but would ideally like to use something that wouldn't be dangerous to children or birds who might subsequently come in contact with the flowers or seeds-- and in any case, I wouldn't really know what to apply, or where to put it, to prevent this.

The only non-chemical idea I've come across is to wrap the flower heads in old nylons, presumably for the duration of the season, but that seems both ugly and cumbersome. Has anyone else had any success dealing with these bugs? What else should I be trying this time around?
posted by Bardolph to Home & Garden (3 answers total)
You need bird houses that attract the right kind of birds. I had a Martin house. Best pest control ever. Probably too late this year.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:46 PM on July 13, 2011

Sunflower weevils?
posted by bolognius maximus at 9:21 PM on July 13, 2011

Actually, go with sunflower moth or banded sunflower moth. Homesoma electellum or Phalonia hospes. Handy link.
posted by bolognius maximus at 9:34 PM on July 13, 2011

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