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UGH! Slugs! How To Control Slugs

slug on leaf

UGH! Slugs!

By Kevin Cutlip

It’s that time when soft, leafy plants begin being chewed up by something. Slugs! We can’t always find them because they are nocturnal, doing their damage while you sleep. With the perfect combination of wet weather and cool nights, their slime is everywhere. How do we control this?

Get to know them. Well, any slug is both male and female (hermaphrodite), therefore they can mate with themselves. Each produces 36 eggs, several times a year, and can posses up to 27,000 teeth at adulthood. They also eat twice their body weight in any given night. Umm, that’s a lot-and probably more than you want to know about them. So how can we interfere?

  • Slugs avoid crawling over anything dry, dusty or scratchy, such as lime, diatomaceous earth, cinders, wood ash, coarse sawdust, gravel or sand. These make great barriers to keep out slugs.
  • Epson Salts sprinkled on the soil will help deter slugs and also help prevent Magnesium deficiency in your plants.
  • Vinegar is a good ingredient for slug sprays and removing slug slime. Just make sure of your PH requirements of the plants you treat because vinegar is acidic.
  • Spread table salt around your plants. Salt dries them out so they won’t go near it. Apply Garden Gypsum to alleviate the compaction of the salts.
  • Collect human, dog, or cat hair and put around your plants, not only will the slugs not want to climb onto them, but the hair will also keep a lot of the little critters away. Predator deterrent.
  • When you find a slime trail, destroy the track so other slugs do not follow.  This is important because they will follow each others trail. There are certain plants that slugs hate, like the strong smell of mint, chives, garlic, geraniums, foxgloves and fennel. Plant them around the edge of your garden to keep them out. Or, take cuttings of these plants, and distribute amongst your “Slug Liking” plants. These plants also discourage Japanese beetles.
  • Put crushed stone paths along your flower beds. Limestone is the best.
  • Put copper or foil barriers around plants that the slugs are eating. Things like, chewing gum wrappers or foil shards. When the slugs cross them, they are given a small shock. Remember the lemon and penny experiments in biology class? This also works for snails.
  • If you find slugs in your potted plants, put petroleum jelly around the base and tops of your plant containers and watch them slip and slide.
  • Fill a shallow bowl with beer and wait overnight. The slugs love it. Dispose of the slugged brew by adding it to your compost. This is what “left over beer” is for.

There are also some formulated products on the market. “Slug Getta” is Carbaryl, Seven Dust. There are also several others that either kill or deter slugs.

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Lastly, keep ahead of your gardening maintenance. Slugs look for leaf litter, overgrown areas, less foot traffic, and especially NE parts of your beds and sidewalks. They are cooler, and they love to “slime” to navigate. Ewww.

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