Last fall, I discovered several of my young Hostas had Small holes in the leaves. It quickly became apparent it was due to slugs when the characteristic slime trails led to my darling Hostas. I knew then my battle with the slug was only beginning. I hate it when I am right about these things.
From experience, I know slugs don’t travel far in their lifetime. We have lived in our current location for ten years and I’ve noticed slugs around our little town, but not in our yard. They are fairly common pests. This is the first year they have visited our yard. It was inevitable the slimy little fiends would find our yard and sample the tasty little treats I so lovingly planted. I accepted my fate and went to battle this year.
Knowing they eat just about every green plant out there is not comforting. I did discover they don’t really care for herbs; probably the strong smell and taste. However, a gardener can’t live on herbs alone. This year my petunias and marigolds were reduced to leafless stems. Only plants in pots and those with thick, hardened leaves seemed to survive the slug onslaught.
The Internet is full of some of the most interesting ways to rid your yard of slugs. From leaving shallow pans of beer and milk with the purpose of drowning the beasties to leaving cornmeal which once ingested will swell and explode their tiny bellies; the Internet has it all. Years ago I collected them and promptly put them in a bucket with salt. Not the nicest way to exit this life so I decided they must have a quick death. My method of choice this year has been to squish them. Not a task I prefer, but it is quick. I really don’t want them to suffer from poison or methods, such as salt. You can try crushed egg shells or diatomaceous earth which they say slugs hate to cross as both elements are sharp. However, I have tried both and slugs truly don’t care nor seem deterred by them. Leaving out slug poison is not an option for me as I have cats and I worry they may ingest the poison. My method has reduced their population, but I am aware each slug can mate and lay up to 30 eggs. ( they each have male and female genitalia). I have killed at least 100 slugs so far and many of them have most likely laid eggs. So I await the next generation. The evening is a good time to find slugs as it is cooler and slugs are nocturnal.
As a means of prevention, I would suggest if you can find ways to clean up debris, rocks, or sticks in moist areas of your garden, it will help reduce their population. They really love moist areas in gardens. As well, slugs like to hide in dark areas during the day. Turn the earth frequently in theses areas as it may help destroy eggs or slugs who slumber away their days under clumps of soil.
If you do end up with an infestation, don’t panic. The key is diligent, daily control. Whatever method you choose, just do it regularly. Please share any methods you have tried and found success with.