Garden Slugs and Snails
Slugs and snails are a common home garden pest. They slither around in the
night, on cloudy days, and in early morning hours. A shiny, slimy trail marks
their coming and goings. They like many common flower and vegetable garden
plants. They have been known to climb right into container gardens that are
on the ground. Slugs and Snails even enjoy a variety of common shrubs.
Seemingly impossible to completely rid your garden of these pests, they can
at best be controlled. There are both chemical and organic means of controlling
these pests. We recommend the latter, but recognize that chemical control
is sometimes needed.
Did you know? Slugs have four noses. Perhaps, that explains why they
are so slimy.
Organic and Natural Control:
Most everyone has heard of using beer in a dish, as effective control. Some
people even suggest you bury a beer bottle up to the lip. Slugs and snails
love sweet things, like your garden vegetables and flowers. They climb over
the edge of the bottle or dish, fall in and drown. It works very well to
control the slugs and snails around your plants.
You do not need to use beer. Soda pop, fruit juices or even sugar water works
equally well. We do recommend you use plastic containers rather than glass
that can shatter in your garden soil. This author uses soup or tuna cans.
Make sure you know where you placed each container. You also need to empty
and refill the containers regularly, and after each rain. Better yet, discard
the yucky contents, container and all, and start fresh.
Another tried and true approach, is a bed of coarse sand around your plants.
Slugs and snails do not like coarse materials, and will not cross it. This
has limited applications. But, it works well during the early stages of fruit
that lies on the ground like pumpkins and melons. Gently lift the small fruit
a couple inches off the ground. Lay a bed of sand under and around where
the fruit will lie, so there is at least a three to four inch perimeter of
sand on the ground around the fruit. Add more sand as the fruit grows.
In controlling slugs and snails, it is important to remove their habitat
and shelter. Keep your garden clean of debris. A board or piece of wood on
the ground is a great home for these little pests. Mulches, consisting of
large wood chips, also should be avoided.
Organic Tip: If you do have wooden boards in or around your garden,
lift them up every couple days. Remove and dispose of any slugs and snails
that you find. This works with earwigs, too.
Other common deterrents that slugs and snails do not like to come in contact
Crushed Egg shells
Human or animal hair
Salt, fatal in even small quantities.
Coffee grounds, slugs don't like them, possibly fatal to them.
Epsom Salt - Encircle
the plant with organic Epsom Salt. It's a line they will not cross.
A Note on using Salt: Some people get a kick out of pouring salt on
slugs and watching them melt. It works, but is not practical in your garden.
Salty soil is fatal to plants.
Natural predators is another means of control. Ducks, geese and many birds
eat slugs and snails. Unfortunately, these slug lovers, may also enjoy the
fruits of your garden as well as the slugs and snails.
Did You Know? A snail can sleep for three years!
Slug bait and Snail pellets and dusts are readily available. But it is a
chemical, and should be used sparingly. It should not be spread around your
garden fruits and vegetables, as it can be absorbed by the roots. Any use
in the home garden should be limited to a covered container or bait trap,
so wind and rain do not wash it into your soil.