Slugs – Garden Pest

Elvis Elvis

About Slugs

Slugs are really pretty disgusting little creatures that love to feed on the plants in your yard or gardens. They eat large ragged holes in the leaves of your plants and can also completely consume young seedlings. Slugs go into action and begin feeding early in the spring and will continue to do so throughout the growing season until the first frost.

Slugs have both the male & female sex organs and each carry eggs in their own bodies. They can lay up to 300 eggs at any time but do so mostly in the spring or fall. The eggs come in clusters of 25 and hatch in about 30 days. If conditions are not just right the eggs will remain unhatched until conditions are just right.

In little time these slimy creatures can multiply and become a real problem. Slugs reach adult size in 3-12 months and can live for several years. Although they need substantial moisture, they are survivors and can burrow as deep as 3 feet into the soil to make it through a drought period.

There are many methods for controlling slugs. One popular slug buster is the use of beer. Really, they love the fermentation and will drink, become intoxicated, and drown. And believe it or not, they have a preference in their beers. The top 3 according to a study by Colorado State University are: #1- Kingsbury Malt Beverage; #2- Michelob; #3- Budweiser.

Slugs   Garden Pest

Slugs   Garden Pest

There are 40 + species of slugs in the United States. Three of the more common types of slugs that can do damage in your gardens are:

#1- Common Garden Slug: This is a 1 inch dark skinned slug with a light stripe along its side. It likes to borrow into the soil and feed on root crops.

#2- Grey Field Slugs: This slug is grey to tan in color and had dark spots with a light colored belly and a dark streak down the middle. It is about 1-1.2 inches long and prefers lettuce, cabbage, and nearly anything.

#3- Black Slugs: These are large at up to 6 inches long. They have rough bumpy skin, a light colored foot, and are mostly black but can also be brown or red. They prefer tender seedlings and leave more mature plants alone.

Slugs travel by means of a large foot that glides over a trail of mucus slime that is secreted from glands located under their head (sounds like something from a scary movie). The slime produced provides a cushion over rough areas. The slime also acts as a trail marker for the slug so they can return to their favorite feeding and hiding places.

During the daytime slugs seek protection from the sun and heat in cool damp locations including under leaves, stones, boards, flower pots, and other such spots. There are many ways to effectively remove or get rid of slugs from your yard or gardens. Usually a combination approach is best.

A few of the ways to control slugs are:

  • Disrupt their slime trails
  • Eliminate their hiding places
  • Create dry conditions
  • Create barriers to entry
  • Use of Chemicals (sprays & dust)
  • Introduce natural predators
  • Use of slug traps
  • Hand removal

Slug Control Methods

Barrier examples include:

Copper Strips: For some reason the copper will give slugs a jolt of electricity and repel them. Make sure the strips are at least 2 inches wide for best results.

Hair & Fur: These materials tend to entangle the slugs and eventually strangles them.

Sharp, hard Textures: Lava Rock, Sandpaper, Shingles, Eggshells, Builders Sand, Nut Shells, and Pine Needles. Any hard sharp product that cuts the slugs as they travel.

Certain Plants: Certain plants are slug proof including: Chicory, Azaleas, Basil, Daylilies, Daffodils, Evergreens, Fennel, Foxglove, Garlic, Holly, Mint, Parsley, Pumpkins, Sage, and Sunflowers.

Predators to Slugs include:

* Ground Beetles, Toads, Frogs, Lizards, Turtles, and Garter Snakes.

* Blackbirds, crows, ducks, owls, robins, and others.

Sprays & Dust include:

Iron Sulfate: Kills slugs on contact with a mix of 2 teaspoons of iron sulfate to 2 quarts of water.

Ammonia Spray: Mix 3 ounces of ammonia to 16 ounces of water for the best formulation.

Talcum Powder or Flour: Dust your plants with this.

Isopropyl Alcohol: Mix 8 ounces of 70% rubbing alcohol with 1 quart of water and spray onto plants. Be careful because some plants are sensitive to this.

Slug Traps:

Beer Traps: Put beer into a container and leave out in garden. The slugs will become drunk and drown. Note: Put some escape twigs into the trap so beetles can climb out.

Crop Leaves: Use all sorts of leaves including lettuce to catch slugs and then to dispose of them.

Boards: Use flat pieces of lumber and pull them off each morning by hand.

Slugs are slimy creature that will eat your plants and multiply quickly. Get control of them early to avoid the extra mess and hassles.