Garden slugs can be one of the most notorious pests of the garden, destroying plants, and anything they find remotely edible, even the letters in your postbox can end up as slug (or snail) chow. Slugs and snails are related; the main difference between them is of course, either having a shell or not.
Slugs are mostly active at night, while they sleep during the day. On overcast days, they can also be active during the day. They are able to breed at a fastidious rate and can easily spread via their eggs in new soil, or from your neighbor’s garden. While some people keep slugs as pets, most gardeners find them a nuisance. If you don’t want slugs in your garden, here are some oft-used slug control measures. These tips will also apply for snails.
Garden watering time
Water your garden in the morning, so that there is enough time for the soil to dry out. Evening watering simply provides ideal, moist conditions for the slugs to come out and forage for food during the night. If you have a lawn sprinkler system, switch the watering time to either the morning or early afternoon.
Using copper barriers
Buy thin copper strips, cut them into 2 inch bands and place them as a kind of barrier around your flower beds, or gird them around bigger plants. Slugs hate copper because their slime reacts to copper. Anti-slug copper barriers are also available from garden supply shops.
Manually removing slugs
Slugs are easily removed by handpicking them. You spot them, you remove them. Slug eggs appear as tiny yellow or white colored round pearls, and are usually found in damp dark places, like underneath logs, pots, boards, beams, and rocks. Slug hunting is best done at night, after 10 pm, when it is cool enough for them to emerge and forage for food. What to do about the slugs you caught? Slugs can be killed by salt or squashing. You could always use the slugs you caught as fish bait, though!
Slugs and snails can be trapped rather easily since they always seek out dark and damp places. Simply place a thick cardboard, plank, or piece of wood in an infested area, about an inch or so above the ground surface. Slugs and snails will seek out the cool shade underneath it, and then, you’ll be able to pick them off easily.
Slugs are also attracted to fermented material. You can use beer or yeast solution to attract slugs. Simply pour some beer into a shallow plate and place it in a shaded area or underneath the plank mentioned above. Place some soil or sticks up to the rim (or bury the plate halfway into the ground) so the slugs can crawl into the plate, and get drowned in the beer. The plate needs to be refilled daily. Alternatively, special slug traps can also be bought from garden supply shops and used in place of plates.
Using commercial slug bait
Commercial slug bait is another way to control slugs. Packaged slug baits usually come in powder, pellets, or emulsions, and two of the most common chemicals used are metaldehyde and mesurol. Remember, these slug chemicals are toxic to other animals and the environment.
Mesurol is odourless snail/slug bait, and is highly toxic to aquatic life. Metaldehyde is most effective during hot weather, but conversely, it is also the time when slugs are most inactive. Don’t water the ground for a few days after applying metaldehyde; moisture reduces its effectiveness.
Slug baits are best applied in the evening, when it is not too hot or cold. Apply them near locations where slugs and snails will frequent or cross, such as near dark, moisture-high spots. Slugs have a tendency to return to their foraging sites so the treatment needs to be applied continuously until the problem is contained. Scatter slug bait at intervals of 4 inches, but don’t pile them up. Also, avoid using them if you have pets around, as your pets can mistakenly gobble them up.
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