Slugpocalypse Now – Methods for Slug Control

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Lurking deep in gardens across the worlds, Slugs wait in their millions to prey upon unsuspected young plants and anything else a gardener might care to put in their garden.  For any aspiring gardener it will not be long for them to come face to face with this slimy nemesis of all who till the soil.  Ravenous and hungry, there can be as many as twenty thousand of the glistening gastropods in even an average garden plot. 

So, what’s a gardener to do?  How does one stay on top of the slug menace?  What hope pest control? Well the bad news is that given their incredible numbers it’s practically impossible for a gardener to completely eradicate them.  That said, there are ways to mitigate the damage done by the hungry horde.

Method One – Slug Traps

A traditional method involves setting small traps with partially submerged containers such as yoghurt pots filled with something slugs find utterly irresistible.  Beer is often cited as ideal as something that slugs simply can’t resist.  Drawn by the promise of free booze, the slug will fall into the pot, be unable to get out and drown.

Unfortunately, such traps are relatively high maintenance as those slug bodies need to go somewhere requiring that the traps be replaced frequently.  And given that Governments of all stripes simply love to tax alcoholic beverages, it can quickly get quite expensive to protect anything other than key plants with this method.

Method Two – Salt

As most people by now are aware salt is truly devastating to a slug.  Given how moist they are, an application of salt will quickly dry out the slug, drawing moisture from it’s body and leaving nothing but a gloopy mess behind. 

Unfortunately this method has several draw backs even before one considered the possibility that slugs may experience pain (they are effectively being killed by dehydration).  The key one being that salt really isn’t good for most creatures in large amounts, plants included and large amounts introduced into the soil can be poisonous.

Method Three – Slug Pellets

Chemical methods of control for slugs exist as they pretty much do for nearly every garden pest.  The active ingredient in many slug pellets is metaldehyde, a pesticide that is toxic to slugs.  The trouble is that like many chemical agents it can be toxic to other things too.  Predators that eat too many slugs such as birds may end up sick from too much toxin.

Method Four – Trap and Release

Slugs are mostly nocturnal creatures, hiding away from the warmth of the sun during the day.  As a result it is possible for more conscientious gardeners to take advantage of this tendency and build little traps, areas sheltered under a bit of cover like wood or a paving stone where slugs are likely to wait during the day.  It helps to bait it with some food slugs will find irresistible like leafy greens.

Come day time, the slugs will remain in the trap, ready to be scooped up by the gardener and disposed of someplace else. 

Method Five – Natural Predators

What snails are to Frenchmen slugs are to a wildlife – a tasty protein if slimy snack.   Examples of slug predators include beetles which eat slug eggs, birds, frogs and hedgehogs.  Encouraging wildlife in your garden by building a pond for example can help to attract creatures that will only be too happy to eat away your slug problem.

Have a great method to keep slugs in check?  Let us know in the comments!

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