Somethings eating my sunflower plants!

Dani0025(4)July 17, 2013

I noticed a few days ago that something was eating the leaves of my sunflowers. I rinsed the leaves because I noticed a few tiny bugs. When I checked on them today there are no lower leaves left and the top ones have been munched on! I also noticed a TON of tiny black bugs. They almost look like tiny ants.....ill post a close up pic of those after. Any help/suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!

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Dani0025(4)

Not the greatest pic but its taken with my phone...

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 1:23PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

The ants are probably farming aphids. Looks like something is inside the leaves munching, and also possibly a caterpillar (might be hiding under a leaf) or something like grasshopper that's much more mobile. Your poor plant is like wild kingdom.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 3:48PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

With leaves that torn/shredded, you may need to consider that it could be birds, too....

Here is a link that might be useful: Birds eat sunflower leaves

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 4:33PM
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Dani0025(4)

I never thought of birds, probably because they are only maybe 10 inches tall. I suppose that could be it. Maybe ill pick up some pin wheels...

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 5:13PM
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Dani0025(4)

Do you think gently spraying them with water would remove the insects that have made my poor sunflowers there home? I hope they make it to flower, this is my first and probably last attempt at growing them. My whole first batch were demolished by squirrels =(

    Bookmark   July 17, 2013 at 5:18PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

If you can see something on there, it shouldn't be too hard to remove. Good attitude though, sunflowers aren't prized for their leaves. As long as it can grow as fast or faster than it's being munched, you'll get a flower. Squirrels, the most prolific and busy gardeners on the planet, have some strange ideas! With sunflower seeds, I toss them out there almost every year. Sometimes I get flowers, sometimes not. For $1, it's worth the gamble, IMHO.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 9:07AM
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Dani0025(4)

I think they are just about done for =(

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 1:18PM
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Dani0025(4)

And this is on a lillie about 10ft away. Not sure if its related but im still kind of bummed.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 1:20PM
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Dani0025(4)

Last pic of the damage =\
Some nasty white "fuzz" for lack of a bettee word has appeared on top. There was nothing there yesterday

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 1:23PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Looking back over your pics... plants are leaning, sunflower is staked, grass is very sparse at the base, always shown in shadow, starting to wonder about sufficient sunlight in general for these plants. Which side of the fence are they on? Insufficient light can make plants weak and easy prey for pests.

What is going on at the base? Usually it's either grass or a bed. Once the space(s) is defined, mulch can be added to bed to moderate moisture levels, and eventually decomposing to add tilth and humus to the soil.

Also, hard to imagine anywhere's actually dry right now, but in the top pic the ground looks dry, which can also be deceiving in person or in pic. What's the moisture situation?

If that was my lily, if possible, I'd dig it up, chop off everything above the bulb, put it in a spot of more sun.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 4:35PM
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Dani0025(4)

Where the sunflowers are used to be a full blown flower bed with hostas. I moved all of those and have been trying to grow grass along the fence. As for the lily, I dont think thats actually what it is. Thats what my mother always called them. They get these seeds along the stalk and they just popped up where you see them along the side of the house. The sunflowers get full sun pretty much all day. The others not so much, they are under a tree.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 6:21PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Dani, tiger lilies (Lilium lancifolium or Lilium tigrinium?) ... forms tiny (almost seed-like) bulbils that develop along the length of the plant axils, where the leaves join the stem.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2013 at 11:58PM
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Dani0025(4)

Would you believe that all this time I thought those were seeds. Wow. I feel kind of dumb! Haha.
Alright Ive decided to leave the sunflowers where they are, hopefully we get a least a few flowers! And Im moving the lilys. I was hoping those would make it to flower but now most of them have that icky white stuff all over them.
Hopefully ill have better luck next year.
Thanks for the advice!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 1:18PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Yeah, gardening's always a gamble. The longer you do it, the more different plants you should have. So when/if something goes wrong with one, it's not such a big deal since there are so many others doing well. Not as great to look at from a distance, but a bed of many different plants is much more 'safe' than large monocultures of single plants. Just something to consider while dreaming up next year's schemes.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2013 at 11:38AM
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Dani0025(4)

I know this was a while back but just wanted to let you all know the lillies made it to bloom!
The sunflowers are eh so so. I have a better spot picked out for nect year =)

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 11:53AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Wow, it sure did! That poor wild kingdom plant will not be deterred from its' mission. Thanks for the inspiring update, I wouldn't have thought it possible.

Anyone planning/dreaming about next years' garden in July is confirmed, addicted.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2013 at 12:30PM
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scorpman1

it is the same damage I have on my sunflowers, it is from a brown beetle. they are coming out at night and chewing the leaves. It is the May beetles or June bugs are ý to 5/8 inches long, and reddish brown. the ants are "farming" a type of leaf hopper and aphids. the damage on my sunflowers have been kept low by me going out each night and removing as many of the beetles as I can and I also have a large amount of spiders both ones that I put there and others that moved in own their own to help control the beetles. I don't like to use bug sprays because the birds will be getting the seeds in the spring and because the beetles come out at night, unless you get a spray that stays on the leaf and will kill them as they eat, any direct contact killing spray will be dried and have no effect and a systemic killer will make the plant and the seed toxic which will kill the beetles but the seeds could not be given to the birds or eaten by humans.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 2:14PM
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Lisk(z6CT)

Yesterday my young sunflower plants were fine. Leaves were full and healthy. Today I went out to see only the center stalk and the side stalks of the leaves but not one leaf is left. Any ideas as to what ate the leaves? Thank you in advance for any help.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 6:04PM
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