Ugh! Slugs!

I have been very busy this weekend (sunny at last!) with the garden tour. Here is an interesting and useful post by our friend and Master Gardener colleague, HerbDoc:

A face only a gastropod could love

A face only a gastropod could love

The cold and wet May and June weather has spawned an unwelcome and destructive visitor in the garden.  Slugs have been feeding on many of the ornamentals, leaving holes and rasped areas on what were perfect specimens.

Slugs are classified as gastropods, more closely related to clams and mussels than insects, so most of the pest control methods on the market simply don’t work.  They aren’t often seen in the day because they’re susceptible to drying out so they seek shelter under pots, boards, large chunk mulch, grass, straw, etc.  In my yard, I found a bunch camping out under three bags of mulch!  They sneak out after dark to feast on vegetables and ornamentals.

There are molluscicides which are pesticides that cause intense irritation and death to slugs and snails on contact.  Metaldehyde (sold as Bug-Geta) is effective for ornamentals but cannot be used near vegetable crops and is deadly for dogs or children if ingested.  Iron phosphate (sold as Sluggo, Escar-Go!  etc.) is as effective as metaldehyde but can be used in vegetable gardens and doesn’t pose any hazards to dogs and children.

My favorite way to get rid of slugs is to bury shallow tuna cans up to their rims and fill them with beer.  Slugs are attracted to fermenting materials so they climb in, get drunk and drown.  They die happy, and I’m delighted to be rid of them!  A container will last several days as long as some liquid is present.  Just keep discarding the dead bodies and adding new beer until there is no further evidence of them.  I also check under my large pots everyday and destroy any slugs lurking beneath.

Keep an eye out for these creatures in your garden!  They lay eggs in soil crevices, and since they can eat forty times their weight in a night, can do a lot of damage in a very short time.


About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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3 Responses to Ugh! Slugs!

  1. Wendy says:

    Hi there! I was so hoping the ri part in diggingri would be for Rhode Island! I’m a URI grad, class of 96. Lived in North Kingston for 4 years. Visited recently and discovered how lovely the gardens are in this quirky little state. I look foward to your RI garden updates!!

    About the slug situation, I’ve been using sluggo plus with great results, but need to find dry spells between rains – not so easy this irregularly nice cool rainy Maryland summer. I think the pill bugs are actually doing more damage than the slugs for me this year!


  2. Azra says:

    This year I found 5 different type of slugs in my small garden, they eat whatever you plant, specially this year they attack peas and pumpkins. I try several products but finally bear in can as to collect them or salt directly to those which want to move too far from delicious veggie. Well it may be any other powder but fine salt is, as my opinion, best solution.


  3. HerbDoc says:

    Yes, Azra, you’re correct! Salt is a very good method to get rid of these critters. It dries out the outer skin and you can actually hear them sizzle!
    I used to give my boys old picnic salt shakers and sent them out to find the slugs; they got a kick out of it! Just be careful how much salt you use; you wouldn’t want to have a negative impact on your soil.


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