Saturday, August 23, 2014

Tips for Controlling Slugs

Slugs come out at night and slither through your garden feasting on your fruits and vegetables.  My daughter called very upset that something was eating her tomatoes.  Her first garden and first harvests were being ravaged by slugs. Maybe not ravaged but who wants to share a tomato with a slug? This is photo of slug damage on tomatoes.

Slugs are a snail without the shell.  They rasp small holes in vegetables, fruits, and leaves of cabbage and greens.

There are several options to get rid of these pests.  You can go out at night and pick them off with chop sticks or tongs. Then put them in bucket of salt water.  If you are not that adventurous then set a trap.  Here are some options for bait.

1.  Make a cornmeal trap. Put a tablespoon or two of cornmeal in a jar and lay it on its side.  The slugs will be attracted to the cornmeal, but the texture of the meal is too harsh and will kill them. Leave the jar out overnight and dispose of the slugs in the morning and rebait the trap.

2.   Use a fruit trap. Slugs are naturally attracted to fruits. Place a board or jar on its side out near where the slugs have been eating your plants, and put half of an orange or a few slices of cabbage (slug's favorite) or a sliced potato in the center. Leave the board or jar out overnight, and in the morning the slugs should be feasting on the food you left on the board.  Dispose of the slugs. 

3.  Try a honey and yeast trap. This is the same concept as the beer trap which slugs love.  Slugs are highly attracted to the combination of honey and yeast. Boil a cup of water with equal parts of honey and yeast and then allow the mixture to cool. Dig a hole in your garden near where the slugs are and bury a plastic sour cream or yogurt container up to the rim. Fill the container about an inch from the top.  In the morning you should have drowned slugs.

They also have natural predators of birds, toads, and ground beetles.  

Purchased Deterrents

1. Diatomaceous earth. This is often used to ward off various pests. It is made from crushed up fossilized sea shells. Follow the  directions on the product.  Pour the sharp dust around your garden beds. Keep in mind that this will only work when dry, and must be replaced if gotten wet.  This is not my recommended option because it is harmful if inhaled into your lungs.  But if you already have this then use it.

A better option in my opinion is iron phosphate pellets.

2.  Use iron phosphate pellets. These small slug-killing pellets can be found in garden centers; the slugs are attracted to them, but once consumed they  will cause death within a week.
  You can sprinkle these around your garden.  These also get rid of sowbugs and pillbugs. I used this in my strawberry beds for roly polys which where helping themselves to my berries.  I may have had some slugs in there also. Less than a week and no problems. 

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