Stop critters from eating sunflowers - Citizen Science Contest

The SciStarter Citizen Science Contest is live! This is your opportunity to help millions of citizen scientists contribute to real scientific discovery. Make their experiences better by coming up with solutions to some real annoyances that hinder their participation. To get you started, here is a specific--and very real--challenge sent to us by project organizers.


Background: The Great Sunflower Project uses data collected by citizen scientists to create an online map of bee populations. Participants grow sunflowers, observe how many bees visit those flowers, and then submit their observations.

The Problem: Critters, like mice and birds, often eat the sunflower seedlings before the bees are able to visit. As a result, some volunteers are unable to collect and submit data.

The Challenge: Create a safe, simple way to ensure the sunflowers are protected from critters and reach maturation.

Enter now! Contest closes January 21, 2013

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ghwright34 years ago
Do it like the farmers have done for millennia, Felis silvestris catus ...
ferrets are more efficient....
Alex Gaut4 years ago
wouldn't some kind of bird netting be the simplest thing to do? Grow the seedlings in the ground but under some kind of simple set up with some poles (bamboo/wood/plastic) and a large piece of bird netting over the top and down to the ground. Still lets the light in, but would keep rodents and birds out. Bird netting is very cheap.
lemonie4 years ago
I don't think that the bee-data will be valid if you interfere with the environment. I.e. some of the bee population data will be based upon environments where other wild-animals are artificially-discriminated.

lebuhn lemonie4 years ago
Yes, we'd like to make sure that it doesn't interfere with bee visitation. Most of the herbivory happens before flowering though
lemonie lebuhn4 years ago
I see it like this:
If it's just bee-behavior it's probably OK, but you could plant other flowers (less tasty to critters).
If it's a local environmental-study; don't mess with the environment because it will give false data.
I don't know which the project really fits, as it seems to be a bit of both.

MomRah4 years ago
What about tying Mylar strips to stakes near the seedlings? I know that helps keep birds away, apparently because of the fluttering noise and the random flashes of reflected light; does anyone know if squirrels are deterred?
lebuhn MomRah4 years ago
Interesting. We'd have to test whether it keeps bees away. Then again, we could just remove the mylar strips once the plants start flowering.
lwillmore4 years ago
I was thinking maybe a high pitch sound frequency generator would keep away birds and squirrels when they go near it and it would only activate when animals come near it.
Interesting, how would you set up the activiation?
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