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Slugs

Closer Look Of The SlugSlugs are small slimy snails, with no shell, which eat leaves or young seedlings. Members of the mollusks (not insect) family, they are related to clams, oysters and shellfish and like moist, dark areas of the garden, coming out to feed only on cloudy days or at night. Damaged plants are marked by slime trails and irregular-shaped holes with smooth edges. They have the nasty habit of hiding inside cabbage heads, but if you wash the heads well, they cause no real harm. Some slugs are quite large, over an inch or so, and can really chew leaves and destroy plants, but most garden-variety are smaller and do far less damage. Slugs are perhaps one of the more difficult predators to eliminate from your garden. A few slugs are tolerable, but many will devastate your garden.


Adult

Slug AdultMost adult slugs die shortly after egg laying, although a few may survive until the following spring. The gray garden slug is common and are 1 to 1 1/2 inches long.


Eggs

Slug EggsFemale slugs lay clear gelatinous eggs, which resemble small pearls, in clusters of 40 – 100 in the soil under rocks, mulch or debris, and typically hatch in 3 to 4 weeks. Slugs lay eggs in the fall after rains start, typically in late September and early October. If you can manage to reduce the population of adult slugs before they lay eggs, you have won half the battle.


Larvae

Slug LarvaeSmall slugs look just like large ones, only they eat less. They feed on young soft plant parts and organic matter and grow into adults in three to six months.


Vegetables That Slugs Like To Eat

These are their favorite plants, but they will attack almost any plant when they are hungry.

Beans Cabbage Lettuce Okra

Control

Watch which snail baits you use. Baits containing mesurol kill earthworms and beneficial insects and those containing metaldehyde are highly toxic to pets. Baits containing iron phosphate (such as Escar-Go or Sluggo) are safer and less toxic yet still effective.

Vermiculite, when sprinkled around the base of plants, will move when the slugs crawl on it, which the slugs dislike. It is said to be 90% effective as a control and is particularly good for plants that love water.

Diatomaceous earth, lime, sawdust, wood ash or sand sprinkled around the base of your plants seems to work well, but must replenish regularly.

Copper screening seems to work well, as slugs don’t like to cross anything made of copper. Try making a slug collar out of the screening and place it around the base of the plant, and should be at least 3” above the ground to be effective. If you can bend the top of the collar outward at a 45 degree angle, it will be considerably more effective, as slugs will simply not go over the top. Copper screening might be hard to find at your local hardware store, but if you look on the internet, you should have no problem finding it.

Sluggo is the trade name of a product said to be able to kill most slugs. You spread the dry grandules around the base of your plants, and the slugs will eat the grandules and then die. It is said to be safe for pets and humans, but we have little experience with it at this time.

Placing beer in a frisbee will attract slugs, which they will usually drown in the liquid. If the slugs seem to be sipping the beer and then moving away, add some flour to the beer to make a sticky mixture. Mixing yeast in sugar water also attracts slugs and can be used instead of beer. It has been mentioned that Budweiser beer works the best.

Acquire some cheap rough sandpaper, cut a hole in the center and slip it around the base of your plants. The slugs will not cross sandpaper because it irritates their bodies.

You can also use mix #10 and mix #11 to attract slugs (and drown them in small dishes or a frisbee), while mix #22 will kill the slugs if applied directly to them at night.

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