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Slug and Snail Control in the Garden

Ahhhhhhhh! The joys of springtime abound...
The sun is shining, the sky is blue...
The songbirds are singing their sweet melodies to greet you...
As you stroll through your gardens,
admiring the beauty and colors, enjoying the fresh fragrances
of all of your favorite new blossoms as they open...

And just then...
You step on a icky, nasty old slugggg!
Pop! Slip! ICK!
You've been Slimed!
A North American Banana Slug Doesn't Eat Growing Plants

All about the private lives of Slugs and Snails....

Slugs may be a very serious problem to you if you live in the Northwest or other moisture laden areas of the country. A single lawn prawn can successfully remove an entire row of seedlings from your garden in no time at all. He can turn a perfect plant into swiss cheese over night and return to the safety of his hideaway, leaving you to wonder what the heck happened......
As slugs wander about, doing their evil little slug deeds, they leave behind them a trail of slime which amounts to nothing less than a road sign for themselves and every other slug to follow to the grand feast.
To make the situation even worse, slugs are hermaphrodites, they each have both male and female reproductive systems.
Yep, these slimebags can uhh...... uhhhh....
make love with themselves, and in the privacy of their own abode, each he~she slug will literally single handedly produce two to three dozen ravenous offspring several times a year.
That's sick!
The egg clusters look like little piles of whitish jelly filled, 'BB' sized balls.
The eggs will begin to hatch in anywhere from 10 days to three weeks or longer, and these ugly sluglings are born with a ravenous appetite! They eat so much that they can mature from egg to adulthood in as little as six weeks.... and each one start their own families.
Destroy the eggs... whenever and wherever you find them! A good shake from your salt shaker will quickly do the job!
Slugs may live for several years, getting larger with proportionately larger appetites each year. Now, do you really want to go out to your garden some morning and find an eighteen inch Brown Slug eating whole trees?
No thank you...

Organic Methods of Controlling Slugs and Snails

We may never completely win the war by destroying every last snail and slug, but we owe it to our plants to fight them with every effective and safe method we can find. Every small battle won means that hundreds of future slugs will never hatch.
As with any battle plan, it is a great advantage to be able to set the field. Its easy! Cleaning up your garden will eliminate most of the places where the slugs hide, sleep, and reproduce.
  • Pulling the weeds from your garden is something you need to do anyway. As you pull each weed, you remove a potential slug outpost.
  • Keep all decaying matter cleaned out of your garden beds. While leaves make a good mulch, once they begin to compost they become food and shelter for slugs and snails.
  • Prune the branches of any shrubs which are laying on the ground. Keep the old leaves and such cleaned out. By doing this you will have destroyed yet another slug haven!
  • Cultivate your soil regularly to keep the dirt clods broken up, and unearth any slugs which may have burrowed under the surface.
  • The shaded areas beneath decks can be a slug arena: keep them weed and litter free.
  • Just about anything can become a slug home. Boards, rocks, pots and other gizmos should be kept out of the garden.
  • Keep the lawn edges trimmed. Slugs will congregate under the umbrella of unkept grass.

Slug Stickers, Salt and Stale Beer

For the sake of our environment, please try some of these safe and simple methods to get rid of your slug problem...
before you resort to chemical warfare.
  • Keep slug pokers stuck around the garden at random. Meet your enemy, one on one... Your weapon is at hand, impale them!
  • Fill a small bowl with stale beer. Put it in the areas where the slugs are active. Stale beer attracts the slugs and they drown. You may also use grape juice or a tea made from yeast, honey and water.
  • An early morning stroll around the garden, salt shaker in hand will often result in many casualties for the bad guys.
  • Destroy any and ALL slug eggs you find!
  • Bait and destroy tactics work. Set a pile of slightly dampened dry dog food in an area frequented by slugs. In the morning and evening visit the feeding station a few times.... slug poker in hand!

Natural Slug Barriers

  • Cedar bark or gravel chips spread around your plant will irritate and dehydrate slugs.
  • The sharp edges of crushed eggshells around the plants will cut and kill slugs. The calcium in the eggshells is a good soil amendment anyway!
  • Sprinkle a line of lime around your plants. (Obviously this won't work around plants requiring a more acidic soil)
  • Certain herbs (Rosemary, lemon balm,wormwood, mints, tansy, oak leaves, needles from conifers and seaweed will repel slugs. However using a mulch of these plants will only turn the slugs away, in search of other food sources.
  • Oat bran will kill slugs when they eat it... sprinkle some around.
  • Enlist allies..... snakes, ducks, geese, toads, and Rhode Island Reds would enjoy helping you out as they dine on your slugs.

Your Garden Helper Surprise Tactics...

Try as you might, the war against slugs will go on as long as there are gardens. You will never win, but you can keep them under control. Remember that for every slug you destroy, you are preventing countless generations of that slug's offspring.
  • You may want to consider offering a bounty on slugs in your neighborhood. It might amaze you how many slugs an ambitious young person can gather up at a nickel a head...
  • Organize a 'Slug Derby' with some small prize for the biggest slug, the ugliest slug, person with the most captured slugs.... A grand event for any neighborhood, to be sure!

A Garden Helper Tip regarding Slug Slime

As you wage your war on slugs and snails, you are almost certain to be 'slimed' at least once. YUK!
Mix up a little warm water and vinegar, and use this formula to remove the slime from your hands like magic!

Slug Bait and Poison Safety

At times, when the situation can not be resolved organically, it is fine to go ahaed and use an appropriate chemical treatment... as long as you take any necessary steps to assure it is done safely!
It becomes your primary and sole responsibility when using chemical baits and poisons is make sure children, pets, small critters, good creatures are denied access to the poison. Commercial slug bait products can be purchased in the form of meal, pellets, powder, granules, liquid and gel. Each form requires different handling methods. Always read and follow the product's instructions to the letter!
  • Make traps to collect slugs out of plastic pop bottles. Cut the bottle in half and then invert the top part of the bottle into the bottom part to create a no escape entryway. The slug bait can be placed inside the bottle and will draw the slugs in where they will die and await disposal.
    plastic soda bottle
    a simple slug trap
  • Cut a one inch 'V' notch in the rim of a cool whip bowl. Invert the bowl in the garden over the slug bait, and place a heavy enough rock on top of it to keep it secure.
  • At the very least, cover the bait with a weighted piece of wood or an old shingle to prevent access to the poison. Place a few 1-2" rocks under one edge of the board to hold it off the ground and the slugs will think this new 'cavern' is a cozy new Home Sweet Home.... WRONG!
  • Commercial, disposable slug traps may be purchased at many garden centers.
    Quite a bit more expensive, but they work...

Tiny WillyPlease Take Notice! ¹
Not all slugs are bad slugs!
American Banana Slugs are Harmless!
We may give him a hard time now and then, but our good friend Shlug was kind enough to overlook that and pose for this page.
Shlug is an American Banana Slug who works here to keep decaying matter cleaned up from the forest floor.
He may grow to be 18 inches or longer but don't worry, Banana Slugs have absolutely no interest in eating your garden...
They don't even like to eat fresh greens!
We at The Garden Helper salute our American Banana Slugs for the awesome work that they do!
Hug a Slug today!

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