The case of the decapitated sunflowers

After wondering why the sunflowers have not yet emerged, I took a closer look at where they were planted. Pictures below is what I found.

*Note Viewer Discretion Advised*  

The crime scene photos may not be suitable for all viewers.


Sunflower Victim #1


Sunflower Victim #2

As can be seen in the pictures, the perpetrator of this crime removed the cotyledons (seed leaves) right from the victims stem.  A clue to the crime is that the head of the victims were not located at the crime scene and upon very close inspection, tiny teeth marks can be seen indicating that the crime was committed using the aggressors teeth.  Due to recent rains, no fingerprints were found at the scene but police are looking into suspects believed to have committed other crimes in the vicinity.

Below are a list of possible suspects:

1) Cutworm

Cutworm and damage

Damage: Cutworms usually damage the young plants by cutting them off below or above the soil surface. This generally occurs in early emergence. Cutworms feed mostly at night and rest during the day below the soil surface near recently damaged plants.

2) Pill bug

Pill bug

Exploits of this little bugger have been already discussed previously.

3) Slugs

Sketch artist drawing of suspect


Snails and slugs feed on a variety of living plants and on decaying plant matter. They chew irregular holes with smooth edges in leaves and flowers and can clip succulent plant parts. They also can chew fruit and young plant bark.

Because they prefer succulent foliage or flowers, they primarily are pests of seedlings and herbaceous plants, but they also are serious pests of ripening fruits that are close to the ground such as strawberriesartichokes, and tomatoes. They also will feed on foliage and fruit of some trees; citrus are especially susceptible to damage. Look for the silvery mucous trails to confirm slugs or snails caused the damage and not earwigs, caterpillars, or other chewing insects.


Additional information regarding this crime will be made available to the public as investigators learn more.


One thought on “The case of the decapitated sunflowers

  1. Pingback: Winners and losers | Matt's Garden Blog

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