Worms Eating My Sunflowers

I am a true novice at gardening, but I planted some sunflowers along my fence (in full sun) and they were really thriving but now there are furry black worms eating the leaves and they are all dying. Does anyone know what this is, and is there anything I can do about it?

Hardiness Zone: 8b

Thanks!
Amy from Austin, TX

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sounds like caterpillers!

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What you have here sounds like a common tent worm. You can purchase a spray or dust called Sevin and it will deter them and many other kinds of pests.

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I don't believe tent worms to be black and furry. Sounds like catepillars to me. Catch one in a jar and take to a local nursery. Someone there will be able to tell you what to do. You are aware that after the flowers bloom, they die so the heads will go to seed. Often the leaves die back now too, since the plant has already done its job--no flower has a very long life. I mention this because my sunflowers have already bloomed, the heads are turning to seed, and the leaves are starting to yellow--and your growing season should be ahead of ours.

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Home and Garden Gardening Pest ControlJuly 16, 2007
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