Slugs Identification, Damage, and Management

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How Do I Know If I Have Slugs?

Slug damage is often difficult to diagnose because they feed at night.  There are several telltale signs that slugs may be attacking your plants.  Here’s what to look for.

Telltale feeding pattern.  Slugs feed by scraping away the surface tissue of a plant with a tooth-covered radula.  This will generally leave a hole the is larger on one side of a leaf than another.

Slime trails.  Probably the best indicator of a slug problem is the telltale slime trail left in their wake.  These slime trails can contaminate produce.

Loss of leaves.  Slugs will eat small leaves in entirety.

Holes in fruit.  Slugs eat tomatoes and strawberries and will produce small holes as they scrape away at the surface.

Can I Get Rid of Slugs Naturally?

Natural Predators.  The escargot of the small animal kingdom, the slug has many natural predators including snakes, birds, beetles, spiders, AMPHIBIANS< MAMMALS.

Diatomaceous earth. Because slugs will not travel over anything abrasive, sprinkling diatomaceous earth, wood ashes, or other such abrasive material will help to repel them.  If it does travel over the barrier, it will lacerate its body causing it to desiccate.

Copper strips.  Slugs are repelled by some metal ions such as copper.  Strips of copper around plants will keep them from crossing.

Salt.  Salt instantly kills slugs.  The caveat with salt is that it can also damage plant roots.

Beer. Slugs are attracted to anything fermented including beer.  Placing shallow containers of beer around the plants will attract them causing them to drown.

Cultural Slug Control

Remove moisture. Slugs thrive under humid, moist conditions.  Lowering moisture levels help to repel slugs.

Plant trap crops. Slugs love marigolds, so planting them as trap crops will help to keep them away from other prized plants.

Reduce habitat.  Slugs hide in debris such as weeds and lawn clippings.  Keep these far from plants to help to discourage their setting up camp in your garden.

Water in the morning.  Soaker hose irrigation is best to prevent excess moisture in the garden, but if you are watering from above, do so in the morning so that the leaves have time to dry throughout the day before the slug activity begins at night.

Space plants.  Adequately spacing plants will allow for air movement to discourage moisture and humidity upon which slugs thrive.

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