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Pests: Calling all slug experts! (Not for the faint of heart)

Courtenay, BC

I'd like to know what everyone uses for slug control. Counted 53 of the beasts crossing my driveway heading for the garden this morning! I had no idea they were a herding animal.
They were all in a group and had evil little smiles on their slimy little faces.
Where I grew up it was hot and dry and a slug was this tiny little grey thing about 1/2 an inch long. Here on the west coast they range from 3inches to 8 inches or longer!
I have put beer out in spots (don't tell my husband!)and the
bowls are heaped with dead slugs the next morning, but unless I start my own brewery I could go broke.....besides the dog loves beer as much as the slugs and he can't seem to leave it alone.
My Vedgies have never had the hint of chemicals on them or near them.
Any other suggestions?
Candleberry

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Zowie! sounds like you got some whoppers out there! Guess you'll hafta choose from traps (slugs hide from sunlite so you can lay out boards or the like for them to "go to bed" under then go harvest them during the day), barriers like sand, lime, ashes or diatomaceous earth...all of which need to be re-applied after rain or heavy irrigation. (Crushed eggshells last a bit longer or you can also buy a 50# bag of crushed oyster shells from a local farm/feed store. Or you can also use "permanent" barriers if your garden space is not too huge such as copper strips (they prefer not to cross copper); any metal barrier that can be inserted in the ground and sticking up about 2 inches with the top bent towards the outside of the garden at an angle. Or you could go on a nitely scavenger hunt w/flashlite and salt and season them with that...it will tend to dessicate them, and can be great fun with the right attitude! Enjoy your adventure!

Courtenay, BC

Thanks for some great ideas.
Oyster shells are easy to get here but I wonder if they would have an impact on the soil by leaching a lot of calcium with all our rain.
Worth looking into.
Nightly slug hunts.....I forgot to mention the bear that lives in the woods just beyond the garden, I spook easily
:-) Think I will try the shells.
Candleberry

HAYWARDS HEATH, Suss, United Kingdom

Weeelll, the big news in England to catch slugs in a friendly, organic sort of way is
BEER.
If you're teetotal, even non-alcoholic beer works. Drives 'em crazy.

My little garden seemed to be the slug metropolis and place to be for in slugs. They ate all my swiss chard, chomped my sunflowers and sloped off by dawn. Egg shells helped a bit, then I read about beer traps, then I made my own. They love it, and meet up round the rims of yoghurt pots sunk into the ground with beer in them and half-covered with a stone (then they hang upside down in the beer fumes, the little sybarites), then slide down into them. Sometimes they even get out a couple of times (!) (to go to the bathroom??) then back into the pool.

Works better than egg shells, VERY effective. Only downside is that hedgehogs live on slugs and have been known to eat the drunk ones, then they get the effects of the beer, and can't curl up quickly to protect themselves when the foxes come round... no kidding. But they used to eat the poisoned slugs and die of that, the traditional non-organic way. So I put the slugs way down in the compost heap, out of harm's way.

Plan B is egg shells for me, and Plan C is getting out there with PMS, salt cellar and a torch. Very effective, human resource use: high.

Good luck!

Courtenay, BC

I sure wish we had hedgehogs in Canada! I'd have the fattest ones in the world!
I do use beer in a shallow container and they belly-up to the bar very quickly and die. So far it's been the best thing I've tried. I guess between the oyster shells and the beer, it's my best bet.
Candleberry

New Paris, OH

For long term control attract toads and frogs into your garden area-make damp hiding places and have water areas. These critters love both the adults and the eggs and over a few years will make a huge impact.

In the eastern US we have lightening bugs who love to eat slug eggs

Ducks and geese also love slugs

Hand picking and tossing the slugs into a can of salt is very effective though it takes a couple of weeks to see the effect.

I have never had any success with beer traps but applying D.E or wood ash has been very effective for me, though wood ash will raise the pH of your soil a bit.

I would second ohio's suggestions, and add a further suggestion which works well on the west coast, and serves a couple of additional functions as well....build rock piles in the garden at key spots, and in time garter snakes will come to call them home; they are, in my experience, extremely efficient slug-eaters, and it is nice to feel one's garden provides for more than the just human needs. When placing the piles, consider where they might be most effective:

-Rock piles placed around the drip line of a tree act as condensation traps, and will drip irrigate the tree's surface roots during the day.

-Rock piles as thermal mass can greatly benefit a heat-loving crop, and again act as a stone mulch.

Alternately, one can take a more Taoist "go with the flow" approach, and rather than fighting the beasts, simply provide them with easier pickings...strategically placed piles of cut herbage will attract them, some will eat to their content, and others will be eaten to the content of snakes, toads, and the like...and suddenly, your garden begins to look more and more like an ecology, and less like a battle zone: save the beer for day's end.

Regards.

Courtenay, BC

I have rock beds and garter snakes. The frogs are noticable absent this year though and that is somewhat troubling. i always said that if the frogs were about then the garden was happy.

my nearest neibour is a dairy farm and this past month he has desided to clear cut the forested area behind my property and fill in a marsh. There goes the neibourhood!

He has put a lot of wild life out of their homes and I am so sad to see all the old growth cedars come down and many of my shade gardens will now be full sun.
My property is in the path of a lady bug migration and I use to get swarms of them in the early fall. I wonder if that will stop because of all this. So sad.

Anyway, back to my slugs. I certainly over plant every year so it's not so much the loss of produce but the dance i do to avoid stepping all over them in the morning and evening.

Oh well, That's part of the glory of country life.
Thanks for all your good suggestions.
I have by no means conquered but i have begun to manage.
Jen

You could try upturned potatoes, oranges, grapefruit etc ... just pick them up in the morning and you'll find a whole bunch of slugs in there.

We don't use chemicals in the garden because of our animals and the beer, yoghurt or milk traps never worked for us either. Our best slug and snail reducers are the chickens and ducks who are allowed out of their pens for a few hours a day and watched carefully while they try and ruin the garden. No slug and snail problems this year.

Ivinghoe Beds, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Hate to be a heretic...

but the best way to get rid of molluscs is to mix crushed camphor (eg. moth balls) with bran.

Then lay it thickly around your plants.

'Tain't organic but my grandfather did it every year And I do it now. And it works.

Failing that, grow your plants in bottomless flower pots and smear the sides with grease (eg old cooking oil) mixed with soot or salt. That works too.

JOHN YEOMAN
Village Guild UK


This message was edited Tuesday, Sep 25th 4:38 PM

Toadsuck, TX(Zone 7a)

John...what exactly is in the moth balls??

"eyes"

Contents of mothballs:camphor or naphthalene,used for repelling moths'

Naphthalene/Chem,a white,odorous,crystaline hydrocarbon.
Usually prepared from coal tar and used in making dyes and moth balls.

Camphor/A whitish,translucent,volatile and aromatic crystaline substance,obtained chiefly from the tree Cinnamomum camphora,the camphor tree,used in medicine and as an irritant and stimulant.HTH Sis'

Ivinghoe Beds, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Sis

I could never improve on that :)

If you don't like using camphor on your organic garden (it does horrible things to hedgehogs and other creatures, I suspect), just use bran by itself. Molluscs eat it, swell up and turn into gnocchi.

Or so I'm told...

John Yeoman

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

AHAH! Someone after my own heart! I agree John!...I use wheat and rye bran (must be somewhat fine tho) for dusting my tater plants! The larval form of the potato bugs ingest it while nibbling the leaves...it mixes w/their body fluids, expands and POW!!!POP!!! Great fun to pull up a lawn chair and a cool "soda" for a bit of entertainment! Much more fun than watching the neighbors bug zapper! (ZZZZZAAAAPPPP!!! "Gee Maww, that was uh biggun!! Yuck yuck yuck...").
And now you tell me it works on slugs! I'm totally elated now! Can't wait till slug season! (Hmmm..maybe I can sell tickets at the gate!)

Richmond, KY(Zone 6b)

Put me down for seasons tickets, Shoe.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Ha! Will give you front row seats Brook! And be sure to bring John! (I even have a BB gun we can take turns with, just to add extra entertainment!)

{EDIT}..Oh my, I just re-read the above paragraph. So sorry! HAH, it looks like I just invited Brook to take turns with me shooting a BB gun at John...NOT! I meant to say the THREE of us could take turns BB gunning swollen slugs and POP(!) them. My mind is getting weirder and my language usage is getter "worser"! I'll learn!!



This message was edited Tuesday, Feb 5th 7:00 PM

Newnan, GA(Zone 8a)

just so I get the right thing, what kind/form of bran do I use? couldn't take smelling the mothballs though.

Westbury, NY

I make "slug bread" and find it very effective. Put 1Tbs sugar and I Tbs Yeast in a quart container. Fill 1/4 full with lukewarm water. Let mixture do its thing. When nice and bubbly add more lukewarm water to make 3/4 full. Stir or shake (depending on container you use). I set out catfood cans, filled with the slug bread mix about 1/2 full, scattered around the garden in the late afternoon. Next morning they're full of quite dead fat slugs. If the weather is fine you only have to empty the cans out once a week, or replace them is you're squeamish. And it's much cheaper than using beer which I'd rather put into me, instead of them.

Ivinghoe Beds, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Wow! I like that.

But here's an even simpler version of slug bread. Go to your favourite pub at closing time. Carry a LARGE jug. Ask for their beer slops.

Use that as bait. It's free.

Or... if you make your own beer, use the yeast slops you have to scrape off the head of the beer - as slug bait.

'Tis yeast, the critters yearn for.

Makes them seem almost human, doesn't it?

Yours, mollusc-baiting

JOHN

John,please it's the malt at the bottom,lol' From a seasoned home brewer' :D

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

DOGS! Now I need to set my alarm for when the bars close at 2 a.m....there was a day when I, well...never mind!

Tilton, NH(Zone 4a)

This thread has me laughing so hard...
I remember my great grandma Ella handing my sister and I (I must have been about 8) a squirt bottle full of strong salt water and sending us slug hunting. Then, of course, we'd hang out to watch those banana slugs shrivel up and die, being bloodthirsty young ladies.
You've brought back a lot of memories, and incidentally, given my pansies a fighting chance next year.

Westbury, NY

Ooops! I forgot to mention that enough flour (usually 1/2 to 3/4 cup) should be added to the yeast /sugar mixture to produce pancake batter like consistency. Try it. Really does the job. Arne

Ivinghoe Beds, United Kingdom(Zone 8a)

Folks...

Whatever you do, do not bribe the neighbourhood kids to zap your slugs, and bring them to you - at the rate of one pence per slug. (Okay, maybe that's two cents, over the pond.)

Those wretched little entrepreneurs will be importing a thousand molluscs from your local community garden, into your garden, as fast as I can say 'Bill Gates'.

I speak from experience.

(In my case, it was the local cricket pitch they exploited. Be glad. You do not have cricket pitches...)

Yours, mollusc-troubled
JOHN YEOMAN

Longview, TX

I heard Sluggo was good, and safe. I bought some.

Enkoping, Sweden

try to pot as many slugs as you can find (I took 100 myself)in a pot in gasoline it will be only slime left of them then you tell them not to come to you again (if you dont succed it must be that I have only done it in swedish language) then you pot the pot in the garden so they could smell there dead friends,I grew cale and they where there in hundreds but after that they stay only 5 meters from the cale but none on the cale.here in sweden they call the spanish orange slug for murder slugs because of there hunger
but I dont have any problem with them if they come to close to my vegs I put my foot on them if they dont come to close I let them live.

Seward, AK(Zone 3b)

Kelly333: We have slug problems in our moist cool climate. I, too, use Sluggo. I would consider it organic, since it is just iron phosphate suspended in some sort of oat base pellets. It is harmless to other creatures, but causes the slugs to quit feeding... gee, that breaks my heart!

Baker City, OR(Zone 5b)

When I lived in western Washington state my solution to the slug problem was a shovel. Chop! One slug becomes two pieces and does not crawl any further or eat any more! I had a lot of slugs in the 2 to 6 inch range. I went hunting and counting, the first two or three days were very productive. My large yard/garden area yielded about 200 kills. About an hour before dark and an hour after daylight were the best slug hunting hours. They are canabalistic, so last night's chopped slugs were covered with newcommers feasting (disgusting!) and so the morning chopping was easier. In about 2 weeks it was hard to find anything to chop.

Seward, AK(Zone 3b)

Good idea, MaryE. I carry a pair of little scissors with me when I'm out in the yard. Our slugs are not the big sort you have, so I just snip them in half when I see them.

I use beer traps, putting the beer in plastic soda bottles laid on their side. If it rains, the beer doesn't get diluted or washed away. I also spread diatomacous earth (the stuff you put in swimming pool filters) around my plants. It doesn't hurt them, and the crawly slimers don't like to cross anything that scratches their tender little tummies.

Stone Mountain, GA(Zone 7b)

I had a bad problem with slugs a couple of years ago. My flower bed levels were too low, so I raised up all my flowerbeds to above ground level. I haven't had a problem since! I also heard that slugs hate "gumballs" from gum trees. You can crush them and sprinkle them around your plants and they will stay away!
Good Luck!
yvana :)

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Say what!!? You mean there is something good that comes from them ever-present gumballs!? I'm so happy to hear that I could choke a slug with my bare toes!
Thanks yvana!

Stone Mountain, GA(Zone 7b)

Horseshoe,
I felt the same way when I heard about it! I had been cursing the gumballs all over my yard, but now I throw them under my hosta!! yvana :)

Nashua, NH(Zone 5b)

I found that by keeping the garden clean (raking and cut back some of the ground cover) I've disrupted the balance that promotes the ideal breeding ground for them.
I also go hunting at night with my 6 year old nephew, he just loves it! We pick them up with tweezers, when the tips of the tweezers get slimy, just poke the tips into the ground a few time and the slime comes off.
I've read that in England nematoes are been investigated as a potential control method...lets hope that it works

San Diego, CA(Zone 10a)

You need some box turtles. Ours kept his area slug free. Gotta love those onnivores. Watching him "chase" them keeps small children amused too.

Austell, GA(Zone 7a)

yvana, are you referring to sweet gum balls? I hate them almost as much as the slugs but if it works, I'd be game to try.
Brenda

Stone Mountain, GA(Zone 7b)

Yes, plantnutz!! We hate the sweet gum balls too, but love the sweet gum tree in our front yard. I have tried this and it works....either whole gumballs or crushed up! Why don't you try it and let me know how it works for you!
yvana :)

Hi, my name is Adam. I was wondering if any of you guys or gals wouldn’t mind answering some questions on slugs, its Slug week on my website (http://redpie.co.uk) next week and I could get a few questions together from my friends we could ask, like sort of an interview. Its nothing serious they’ll just be silly questions as the website’s sort of a comical thing. If your up for it, drop me an email on farmerajf@hotmail.com

Newnan, GA(Zone 8a)

the link didn't work farmerajf, but I'd be happy to take your 'interview'. I'm up to my eyes in slugs.

Seward, AK(Zone 3b)

Me, too. Our Southcentral Alaskan town gets lots of rain and lots of slugs. I've got lots of helpful hints to offer.

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