MADISON (WKOW) -- You can protect your sunflower harvest from these critters by covering the flowers with a paper bag, cheesecloth, or season extending fabric as the seeds begin to form.
The seeds are ripe and ready to harvest when the back of the flower head is banana yellow or brown and most of the yellow petals are dry. This is when you can easily rub the fluffy covering off the plump seeds that have developed their characteristic gray stripes.
You can eat them fresh or hang the flower heads upside down. Remove the seeds by rubbing your hand over the face of the flower.