Stop the Slug Attack – Ways to Prevent Slug Infestations
After a painstaking month of labor, you sit down on a chair in your garden. The sun shines
warmly on your face. The wind blows gently. At the center of your garden are the native plants
that flaunt their beguiling beauty. The flowers are blooming magnificently. Little plants are
growing from the seedlings in your pots. As these leafy and lush vegetables continue to sprout,
your outright anticipation is offset by the discovery of pesky pests – the slugs!
Although they are not insects, they are considered the worst nightmare for homeowners and
gardeners, together with snails. They can devastate your well-planned and nurtured garden. This
is a major and tormenting hassle!
Needless to say, there are ways to prevent slug infestations. Here are the things you need to
know about this pervasive enemy and ways to stop their attack.
Slugs look like a snail without the shell. Imagine a naked snail and that is what a slug is.
However, slugs have a shell that is either reduced or found internally. Hence, they are considered
mollusks. Their elongated body is soft and slimy. They also secrete a sticky and slimy substance
that protects their body and lubricates their path. Despite the mucus, they are slow animals, just
behind the giant tortoise.
Slugs are also hermaphrodite creatures which means they both have male and female
reproductive systems. A slug lays an estimate of 500 eggs a year. They are capable of laying
eggs in multiple clusters. It is also amusing to learn that the eggs of slugs can remain in the soil
for years. Then when the conditions are right, they hatch at the right time. Their eggs look like
small, sticky, white pearls that are clustered. They lay eggs in the spring and summer seasons.
They thrive in moist or any dark and damp places. They sleep and hide during the day while they
come out and feed at night. As for their eggs, they hide and keep them under rocks, rotting
plants, or any areas that are damp and protected.
Slugs are not picky eaters. They are omnivores and they can eat almost everything, even fungi,
rotting vegetation, dead animals, and droppings. However, if your garden has lettuce leaves,
cucumbers, and tomatoes, they will certainly feast on these with gusto. They are pervasive to
new saplings and growing vegetables and fruits.
It is pretty easy to recognize the signs of slug infestations. As slugs love to feed on leaves, you
will notice irregular or ragged holes that have smooth edges bore on these. They also chew
flowers and clip off tiny plants, parts, and seedlings that just sprouted. They are also very
damaging to ornamentals.
Watch out for silvery slime or mucus trails on the chewed leaves or across the rocks, woods, and paths. These are other signs that confirm your plants are invaded by these pests.
There are various control measures employed by Utah gardeners to keep the slug population at bay. It is essential to reduce the numbers and damage to the plants from these pests.
1. Lure them into beer traps.
Beer traps are bait traps you can use to capture these slimy pests. Slugs can be baited with beer. To create this trap, on a small container, fill it with beer at least an inch above soil level, and place it on the ground. You need lots of beer-filled containers and they must be laid every 3 feet, so these will be effective. Well, if you prefer to chug the beer rather than use it as bait, you can also use other liquid baits such as yeast water or plain water. Otherwise, go for powdered slug baits.
2. Remove them manually.
Since slugs are nocturnal pests, you can find them under plants, rocks, woods, or compost piles during the day. Through hand picking, you can control the slug infestation effectively and thoroughly if done regularly. On a slug hunt, pick the slugs from their hiding spots in the morning, at night, or after a rain. Then, seal them in a plastic bag or dump them in soapy water. Just avoid throwing them over the fence as they will surely find their way back to your garden.
3. Water the plants in the morning.
Remember that watering the plants in the morning is better than in the evening. Slugs love moist places and since they come out and feed at night, you may have triggered more their activeness. Besides, watering the plants in the evening will increase the chances of diseases.
4. Place a bug barrier.
Bug-barriers are irritating for slugs. They avoid it at all costs. You can surround your plant with diatomaceous earth, wood ashes, or mesh copper screens. For some reason, these barriers cause them to divert their path.
5. Use natural predators.
Ducks, geese, and other birds are natural enemies of slugs. If you have these predators at home, set them free early morning for a slug hunt. They look for and destroy slugs which will help you limit the population.
On a final note, although slugs are insidious pests that can devastate your garden, there are many ways to control and get rid of them which you can do. You may try one or a combination of two or more of these measures if it works best for your garden. If there are slugs everywhere, professional help is the best option as it will be very difficult to put a dent in their population using the measures suggested.