Ugh, I don’t know what is going on this year with all the slugs but I’m about over it! Apparently, these little buggers thrive on the crazy wet weather we’ve had this year. Bummer!
Here is one I “caught” in the act. Having no idea what kind of slug this is, I tried to look him up online to no avail. This was a great website for reference but they all look so similar to me and I was unable to identify.
It is mind-blowing to me that such a small creature can wreak so much havoc in my landscaping in just one season. This is the pattern one etched onto my canna leaf.
And of course, they have made quite a lacework of my hosta and other leafy plants, like this Brunnera.
I have noticed, however, that they have NO interest in my coralbells, just a few feet away.
After discovering that, I wondered “What else won’t slugs eat?” I found this informative (and very beautiful) resource online to answer that question.
Another thing I noticed are that slugs are picky. Here you can see they ate the crap out of my ‘Silver Heart’s Brunnera but didn’t touch the ‘Jack Frost’ variety. So strange.
In addition to that, I started pondering what I could do to prevent the slug damage. I am an animal lover for sure, but at this point, I am ready to take a little more aggressive action.
A stop at Home Depot was first on my list to check out their options. The sales associate recommended Ortho Bug-Geta (similar to Deadline, Defender), which consists of small pellets you sprinkle around your plants and lightly water in. It enthusiastically claims to kill snails, slugs, plus cutworms, armyworms, earwigs, and more! It contains metaldehyde and when eaten by slugs, it destroys their ability to move and digest food. Metaldehyde is more effective during warm, dry weather. It is best to apply right after a rain storm but when sunny weather is predicted. It’s also considered harmful to kids and pets. So while I might give this a try in my front yard, it’s NO-NO for my 2 pit bulls in our fenced in backyard.
I decided to make a stop at the Grass Pad to look for other options. Iron phosphate (e.g. Escar-Go, Sluggo), applied to the soil as granules, is a less toxic bait for slugs. Iron phosphate is mixed with a food product that draws slugs to the bait. Once slugs consume this bait, they stop feeding and die three to six days later. Might be worth a try if I can use it around the pets?
Copper compounds (copper silicate and copper sulfate) are effective repellents. They are usually mixed with water, then sprayed on plants. Copper products repel slugs but do not usually kill them.
After learning so much about chemical methods. I wanted to look at more natural, Earth friendly ideas. Here are some of the neat tips I gather while doing my research on that topic.
Apparently, slugs cannot hold their liquor. A shallow saucer of beer attracts them with its aroma and while investigating, they fall in and meet a very hoppy death.
They are are most active at night, so I set up my slug bar in the evening by each of my favorite hosta. It looked a little silly but, hey, not the first time neighbors have seen me acting like a dirt worshipin', tree-huggin', hippie.
And behold, I caught one. SUCCESS! It’s important to remove the slug quickly so they don’t “melt” into mush and ruin the beer. You can dispose of slugs in the bucket of soapy water, squishing them or spraying household ammonia at 5-10% dilution.
You can make traps with other items as well. Asphalt shingles, large pieces of bark or even left overs make great hiding spots for slugs and snails.
Copper is a very effective product but maybe not be cost effective method to deter slugs. It might work well in small application like a home garden. Here are some cool ways I saw copper used.
Sharp or abrasive items can also help discourage slugs from making their way across your garden. Items like eggshells
Hazelnut or coco bean shells
Dichotomous earth is a product worth taking a look at. I saw several products options. One was toted at a “bug killer” and the other appear more gentle and was listed as food grade safe which could be a HUGE concern in inedible landscape situation. I'd have to do some more research on the options available.
Seems like gardeners have a lot of success with DE. So I'll definitely be trying this out and report back to you guys what I learn. Here are some pictures from a gardener using DE right now.
There are many types of animals that feed on slugs, such as beetles (e.g. ground beetles, rove beetles, fireflies), toads, snakes, turtles, shrews, ducks, starlings and other birds. To maximize the effect of natural enemies, minimize the use of chemical pesticides. Reduce chemicals by spot treating small pest problems, using baits, and avoiding unnecessary pesticides applications.
So what do you think? Are you struggling with slugs? Or any other critters for that matter? Let me know what else you're interested in hearing about. Maybe we'll discuss those pesky rabbits next. . . Have a great week!