Long term slug and snail control

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

I have slugs. Gobs and gobs of slugs. I have hand picked, set up boards, bought them beer and I might as well own stock in Sluggo. Sluggo works for a few days, then another wave moves in and the slugs waiting in reserve are limitless. My garden is littered with empty snail shells left by the fallen, but I might as well try to hold back the ocean with a broom.

So I've been looking at longer term measures, specifically barrier methods. The critical stuff -- that is, the vegetable seedlings -- are mostly in raised beds, which is the good news, Bad news is: boy do I have a lot of them. I'm looking at either banding all my beds in copper tape or sandpaper. I rather doubt the sandpaper will last and it will take a lot longer to cut strips and tack it up, but it's cheap. Copper tape... eek. I'm lazy: I prefer to do things once and be done at least for a few years, so I do things the right way. Still... unless I find a much cheaper source of copper tape I am looking at a cost of well over a year's worth of vegetables.

Can anyone comment on the long term effectiveness of either method?

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Nicole ~ are you getting lots of rain? Are you watering? The reason I ask is last night I had just read this from Eartheasy...

Quoting:
Watering Schedule
Far and away the best course of action against slugs in your garden is a simple adjustment in the watering schedule. Slugs are most active at night and are most efficient in damp conditions. Avoid watering your garden in the evening if you have a slug problem. Water in the morning - the surface soil will be dry by evening. Studies show this can reduce slug damage by 80%.

Kristi

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

I have a horrible snail problem, and we are dry, dry, dry. We do water, drip by day, overhead on certain areas in the evening. Doesn't matter, we have snails climbing our citrus trees that only get watered every two weeks. I too use Sluggo, my garden is littered with snail shells and more have moved in. It is like there is a never ending supply of them hiding somewhere.

My neighbor said turning the soil will help reduce the population, I tried and it didn't work (we are no-till, modified raised beds 34 x 4 but I turned several beds with a wide turning fork). I bought neem cake, careful which brand you buy because some is just dirt with a little neem thrown in. The snail population in those beds is less. I sprayed with a copper spray, boy do they hate that! It doesn't last and copper builds up in the soil, so not a long term solution. My latest trial is with ammonium sulfate, not an organic solution, but it has really reduced the snail problem in my salad beds and it is not a harmful insecticide. I am keeping all plant debris picked up because we also have rolly pollies.

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Kristi, this is an ongoing multi-year issue, not just a temporary one. But I don't usually water the garden unless it's been dry for a while, and then I use drip irrigation.

I live next to a wet weather creek and and many acres of woods, so killing them in my garden alone isn't a solution. They love to come eat my new seedlings... grrr... Now if I could keep them out of my beds, I'm happy to live and let live. They don't bother my landscape plants much.

Regarding copper, they also say you have to clean your copper regularly, which would be a major undertaking. Thinking of the sandpaper, I used non-slip tape on my deck stairs and ramp that is quite scratchy and not terribly expensive. I wonder if that would work?

UCDavis also mentions painting Bordeaux mixture on tree trunks which lasts for about a year. I wonder if that would work on smooth lumber? Calalily, it sounds like it could be a good option for you for your citrus trees.

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

Nicole, it might work if I only had a few trees. I have 67 citrus trees and 20 figs. The branches come almost to the ground and they have thorns.

Cocoa Beach, FL(Zone 10a)

More effective than beer. 2 cups warm water, 1 pkg. dry yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt , divide up in glass jars and tilt on their side.

I found the recipe when I did an internet search for Hill gardens, Palermo Maine. I met this gentleman many years ago and found his method for making compost, easy and effective.

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Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

There is "wet-dry sandpaper". That might last forever.

I found I could catch a lot of slugs during a warm spell in late winter. I put out a lot of beer saucers and caught many slugs, who then also froze into sulgsickles when the warm snap ended.

If you can find where they lay their egg masses, and in which seasons, you might set up some "trap" areas at their peak egg-laying dates. Wooden boards or newspapers or corrugated cardboard on flat soil, or concrete pavers leaning against a raised bed edge might entice then tol lay where you can get at them, instead of somewhere hidden.

Just before the brreding season, maximize your efforts with beer saucers and bait. Cast bait UNDER something that will keep rain off. Hopefully reduce the numbers of eggs that are laid.

Then, after eggs are laid, put som e fairly storng asmmonia in a sprayn bottle. Lift the boards, remove the cardboard, or tip tyhe p;avers back so you can see the egg masses. Spray liberally with ammonia.

HOPEFULLY that would reduce their numbers. Beer plus bait plus a little of this let me knock my slug population down by 10-20 fold, but everyone said the years when I had the most slougs were the WORST slug years they could remember. So the technique works best if the slug population is about to crash anyway.

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Thanks, I'll look at the wet-dry sandpaper, Rick. I wonder what level of grit drives them off? I would think the rougher the better.

I haven't ever seen any eggs, but they could be laying them anywhere in my woods. The decimation techniques just aren't working -- it's like a B-movie where the waves of zombies just keep coming. :)

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I have read that even if you killed EVERY slug in yhour yard (with a tactical nuke?) , they would just wlak back into your yard from great distances. And if you're surrounded by woods olr orchards ... ouch.

The only natural enemies I've heard of were ducks, and maybe chickens.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Reading thru a site and I found this http://eartheasy.com/non-toxic-pest-control/outdoor/slug-shield#overview Too expensive for volume but I wonder if one could adapt something else similar? Kristi

Cupertino, CA

Quote from RickCorey_WA :
I have read that even if you killed EVERY slug in yhour yard (with a tactical nuke?) , they would just wlak back into your yard from great distances. And if you're surrounded by woods olr orchards ... ouch.

The only natural enemies I've heard of were ducks, and maybe chickens.


Alligator lizards and roof rats eat a large amount of snails each year too. But of all four animals, I bet only the lizard will not touch your vegetables. lol!

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Quote from podster :
Reading thru a site and I found this http://eartheasy.com/non-toxic-pest-control/outdoor/slug-shield#overview Too expensive for volume but I wonder if one could adapt something else similar? Kristi


I've read about people using the copper pot scrubber things (which is what this looks like), but somehow I doubt those are actually made of copper anymore.

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

I have considered ducks, but I don't have a water feature for them, and I really don't need another pet. WE have coyotes and such that would *love* some duck.

Worm snakes eat slugs and snails, bit I don't have any of those. Odd; this is well in their range and I have plenty of food. Maybe they were eaten by birds. (Or the rattlesnakes.) I looked at if I could get some, but at $10 each the copper banding would be cheaper!

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

I didn't know worm snakes ate snails. We have several of those cute little guys in the garden.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I know English Thruses eat snails because we used to collect snails to feed to them. Perhaps American thruses eat them too?

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from podster :
Reading thru a site and I found this http://eartheasy.com/non-toxic-pest-control/outdoor/slug-shield#overview Too expensive for volume but I wonder if one could adapt something else similar? Kristi

You can buy copper scouring pads used for cleaning metal without scratching it. Scotch-Brite (by 3M) makes one, as does Chore Boy. Amazon stocks some, as does Overstock.com and Ace Hardware, if you can't find them at your local grocery or hardware store.

-Rich

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from NicoleC :
I've read about people using the copper pot scrubber things (which is what this looks like), but somehow I doubt those are actually made of copper anymore.

They are indeed made with copper, at least enough to repel slugs. It doesn't take much.

Wow, that brings back memories of sticking strips of copper and zinc into a lemon - it gave an interesting tingle when the free ends were touched to the tongue. Ah, the good old days, when parents didn't freak out every time someone said "chemical" and by age 12 I had enough of them in my made-for-kids chemistry set to kill my entire family several times over - and amazingly (at least according to the modern Nanny State who thinks we all need to be completely protected from our stupid selves) never poisoned anyone.

-Rich

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Quote from HoneybeeNC :
I know English Thruses eat snails because we used to collect snails to feed to them. Perhaps American thruses eat them too?


I looked them up and while we don't have many in the southeast apparently there are a couple of thrushes I should have in my woods. I haven't seen them, but that doesn't mean they aren't there.

I do have tons of robins and bluebirds which are in the same family, but if they or any of the other birds that patrol my garden are eating them, they aren't hurting the population.

On the copper scrubby things, I may try those for the pepper and basil plants I have in my landscaping. I'm still undecided on the raised beds. I think I need to visit the hardware store and check out the rough grit sandpaper; it's it's comparable to the anti-slid tape I may try that instead.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

I wonder if copper wire stapled around the outside edge of the raised beds would work? Maybe something like ww.amazon.com/Bare-Copper-Wire-Gauge-spool/dp/B003B91BTG/ref=sr_1_7?s=hi&ie=UTF8&qid=1338218073&sr=1-7 ? Of course, you would have to concurrently eradicate any snails that are already in the bed, and leaves, etc., could not be allowed to form a "bridge" for them to find a way around the wire... Much of the wire I've seen is coated, so you'd have to be sure to get "bare" wire. Good luck!

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

Just read about crushed egg shells on this thread http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/1099450/?hl=slug+solutions

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

kmom, everything I've read says that the copper has to be wide enough that they can't step over it. Some of the slugs here are up to 2" long stretched out although most are smaller. I know that pales in comparison to some of the slugs out west, but I think the little ones make up for it in numbers!

Crushed egg shells don't seem to work in the beds I've tested them on. It's interesting that the thread mentions violets as an alternate food source. Yes, they DO eat violets. About 50% of my yard is violets, which may explain the hordes of slugs! Ironically, they don't touch my hostas.

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

>> the copper has to be wide enough that they can't step over it.

I believe that.

I saw a YouTube video where two Junior Mad Scientists tried to deter slugs by using two bare wires, stapled about 1" apart, with a 9 Volt battery between them. They made a circle on top of something like a stump, charged it up, and trapped a big slug inside the circle.

The slug started crawling away, reached the first wire, didn;t care, reached the sec ond wire and REARED up and backed off toward the center of the stump. I think there was a se3ocnvd try where he just barely brushed the outer wire and backed off.

He appeared to think about it for a few seocnds, crawleed forward to just short of the seocnd wire, humped up and OVER the second wire. Elapsed time, I'm sure, much less than it took the two JMS to wire up the stump and set up the camera.

So outwitting slugs is harder than it looks.

Murfreesboro, TN(Zone 7a)

This thread is making me think that maybe gardening in the high desert may actually be EASIER than gardening in Slug Town? Rabbits were relatively easy to fence out... Well, I am moving to TN anyway! We are beyond the go/no go check point. Four weeks and counting. :-) Going home!

Talihina, OK

Diatemeous earth (sorry about the spelling but the brain is still asleep) is said to deter the slugs by mechanicl means and it does work but is expensive unless you live near a large mining operation that make the kind for swimming pool filters thinking of kmom246 as I know there is lots of Dicalite plants around Fernly out toward marigold...oh well this has already overtaxed my brain so gotta have coffee

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

kmom, what part of TN? I only know the eastern side but I think it's some of the prettiest countryside around. I do like the desert and the southwest -- it has it's own beauty -- but I still like the rolling hills and trees.

When you come to TN you will have *both* rabbits and slugs!

Talihina, OK

Bird control for slugs is iffy at best birds feed during the day and the slugs hide during the day and travel to feed at night,,besides can you even imagine anything eating one of them slimy****** things If I am reading right you have exhausted every thing that is known to us gardeners that just have a mild slug problem so it seems that some form of scorched earth approach is the only allternative left ,,I can only relate to this in terms of my own yard and to be honest I do not know how I would approach it but I think some type of firebreack or slug barrier is the only solution left to you ,but anyway a bare ground barrier with some type of insecticide organic or otherwise ...

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

The fact that, whenever you ask about controlling slugs, there are dozens of answers, means there is no, one, completely effective answer.

By the way, about firebreaks: they can burrow under ground.
And they can travel a considerable distance.
Someone siad they woujld climb the staricase of their deck to get to an open bottle of beer!

I fall back on "beer and bait", and keep refreshing them.
I cut the bottoms from small soda bottles for the beer saucers. Clear plastic is a little less visible.

I keep intending to build little "slug motels" with a roof to keep the rain off the slug bait. Like an inverted margarine tub with slots cut for entry.

Deep South Coastal, TX(Zone 10a)

I live in an arid area, we have snails, lots of snails. They live in areas that get no rain for months, not just in my garden which gets water almost every day. They are on my citrus trees, on the tunk and in the branches, on the trunks of palm trees and in my garden by the millions. I have been using ammonium sulfate. They do not like ammonium sulfate and if you mix it with water and spray it on them they really don't like it!

New Orleans, LA(Zone 9a)

Quote from RickCorey_WA :

I fall back on "beer and bait", and keep refreshing them.
I cut the bottoms from small soda bottles for the beer saucers. Clear plastic is a little less visible.

I keep intending to build little "slug motels" with a roof to keep the rain off the slug bait. Like an inverted margarine tub with slots cut for entry.


Rick, I recently came across an Instructible that shows exactly what you're talking about. I've used this & it works great, except when New Orleans gets one of its torrential rains that floods everything!

http://www.instructables.com/id/Snails-Drink-Drive-Die/

Saylorsburg, PA(Zone 6a)

Rick,

I was at a gardening meeting last week where the presenter showed us a great way to use the little soda bottles to catch slugs. Cut the bottle in half, fill the bottom with beer like you do, turn the top part upside down and insert it in the bottom. Now you can lay the whole thing on its side, The slugs crawl in the top part, go through the narrow top to the bottom and can't get back out. In a couple of days you can retrieve the bottle and empty the bottom and start over. No need to make an umbrella. He said to place them every 4-5 feet apart. I haven't tested it in the garden yet but did test it in the house and the beer did not leak out because putting the inverted top in kind of sealed it! Worth a try anyway. It's been so dry here that the slugs seem to have disappeared for the last few weeks!

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

The beer/yeast mixture thing has mostly been a waste of time for me, but perhaps creating covered bait stations with the Sluggo will help. Current weather excepted, we often get pop-up thunderstorms in the afternoons so I have to reapply bait often. Keeping it out of the rain would help.

Talihina, OK

When it gets to be full all in summer the slugs are no longer a problem for me so I just kind of forget them until next spring hope I can find the picture id so will send but earlier this spring I took a mold out of the compost pile ,this is a mold I made of a birdbath so that I could repeat it as often as needed..Anywho when I turned it over the slugs had made little furrows in it ..Mind you it is made from pure Gypsum

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Talihina, OK

First pic is the topside which is the inside of the birdbath maybe better throw in a few more pix ..

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Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Good ideas!

I like cutting a shallow saucer from the bottoms of small soda bottles (less beer per trap).

The sideways "turn the top part upside down and insert it in the bottom. Now you can lay the whole thing on its side" design seems cleverest.

One thing I found while comparing iron phosphate bait to the metaldehyde bait. Even a little of the metaldhyde kind produces multiple slime trails overnight, terminating in promptly-dead-slugs. Maybe the iron phosphate always works eventually, beuase theirt numbers do seem to decline slowly when I use the iron phosphate alone.

But the potent, toxic, chemical kind is more effiective.

I wish I could remember exactly when slugs lay eggs, becuase I think that just before that date is the best time to go all-out and try to reduce their numbers as much as possible. And just after that date is a golod time to go hunt for egg masses with a sprayer full of ammonia.

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