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Growing Out of Your Mind with Slugs

Monthly Grown Your Mind

The technical definition for slug in the dictionary is: A nocturnal snail without a shell that feeds
on tender plants in a dark, moist environment. In real people terms, this means: A gross,
slimy bug hiding under every leaf and eating only your most prized, favorite plants with absolute
total disregard for anything or anyone. Did I pretty much hit the snail on the head? Well, that's
the end of that...I'm waging war and no snail, home or not, is safe. My war strategy is simple:
divide and conquer.

It is safe to say that almost everyone has slugs because on almost every property there is a
spot that has everything a slug loves i.e: moisture, shade and vegetation. So the question to
ask yourself is not "Do I have slugs" but, "Where do I have slugs"? Start looking under and in
between leaves and get ready to lose count. Basically, you need to take inventory of what is
getting eaten and decide if you are going to try and save them or see if there are other cultivars
that are less enticing to slugs. Most decide to fight them so picking the right weapons is the
key to winning the war.

Slugs image banner

Know thy enemy: slugs eat at night and can be anywhere from 1-10 cm in size! A female slug will lay on average 25 eggs every month so getting started early is a must. To identify them simply look near the crown of a plant that you suspect has slugs; usually if there's smoke, there's fire. Slime and holes are all the smoke you need. If you are not convinced at this point, take a midnight stroll out to the garden and watch them glitter in the moonlight.

Strategize: take an average size of your slugs; this will help choose the right attack. If you have a few small slugs then you may only need a Slug Pub, which is a sunken can filled with stale beer and a sand or lime ring around your plant. For larger specimen slugs, then slug pellets, copper rings and/or hand picking will need to be implemented. The simplest method would be to remove all desirable cultivars... and starve them out.

Conquer: Patience and a strong stomach for handling the slimy culprits are your "ace of spades" in battle. I know some people who pay the kids down the street a nickel a slug, (one of them bought a new bike recently), which was a brilliant way to raise the ante. It will not happen overnight, and no one will ever get rid of every single one, but it will balance out.

Pests are a natural part of our gardens and we can only   minimize the damage, and live in balanced harmony with them. There will always be some kind of insect or pest looking to devour your plants and nothing will ever stop that. You can however be well informed, roll up your sleeves and put a little elbow grease into managing the numbers. Create an environment where you can relax and for a nickel a piece, you're sure to find some eager youngster to pick your slugs!

Copper wire mesh at bottom of hosta.        Slug Pub  




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