The ground slug (gastropod) is a common garden pest. Unlike snails, slugs do not have hard, protective shells on their backs. Some have a soft, protruding mantle, while others have nothing at all. Due to the lack of protection from the sun, slugs usually feed at night or on rainy days. During the day, they tend to hide under rocks or in other dark and damp places.
Facing a slugs infestation is a serious matter. Their family can destroy a vegetable crop in a matter of days: damaged leaves and missing seedlings.
Harm of slugs on strawberries
]They eat strawberries, don’t skip salads, even ornamental flowers. The biggest enemy of gardens is their incredible ability to reproduce.
In many gardens, under the cover of darkness, whole hordes of nudibranchs crawl out of their hiding places and attack flowers and vegetables. They are difficult to stop, especially in wet weather. Damaged seedlings, pitted plants, and traces of characteristic slime are sure signs that slugs or snails have been in the garden. They cause great damage to vegetable plots and flower beds.
Note! Slugs eat any vegetation, but prefer tender leaves. This means that plants or seedlings with particularly tender leaves are very vulnerable to attack by these pests. They also eat vegetables and fruits, causing unsightly crops.
They have almost no natural enemies. Toads, hedgehogs and birds that love to eat snails avoid them. Mollusks secrete so much mucus that beneficial insects will suffocate with it.
Slug populations are highest in warm, humid climates and benefit from mild winters. Gardens are especially attractive to slugs and snails because they are usually watered regularly. There is plenty of room for shelter from the sun and wind, which can dry out these pests. Persistently damp corners, rotting piles of grass clippings, and weeds are popular hiding places for slugs and optimal places for oviposition and reproduction. They are commonly found under containers, mulch, boards, rocks, and deep in overgrown vegetation. They are not visible in the garden in dry and warm weather.
Fight against slugs in the garden and in the garden
These pests feed on juicy fruits such as strawberries and tomatoes. Spraying plants with a common insecticide to kill the pest is useless. They feed mainly at night, and gardeners tend to notice damaged plants during the day.
Slugs eat any vegetation
Damage is not limited to foliage and tender stems. Signs that you need to control slugs in your garden:
- if in the morning nothing remains of the seedlings in the garden, except for the edges of the leaves and stumps;
- round holes in tomatoes, strawberries and other soft fruits can also indicate the presence of slugs in the garden;
- torn holes in the leaves;
- traces of slime on plants, rocks or mulch.
Their elimination should be the most intensive in the period from May to July. Fighting garden slugs can be difficult.
Ways to deal with slugs
There are many ways to protect delicate plants without the use of chemicals. Synthetic pesticides not only kill the “bad” insects, but also the good ones that live in the garden and help control pests like slugs. Instead, you can switch to organic methods of struggle.
Natural pest control methods without chemicals require patience, and of course it is better that the snails do not even get to the garden plants. To do this, it is necessary to keep the foliage of plants dry. Water only the root part, and keep the soil clean and dry. Always water the plants in the morning so that the garden is dry by night.
Natural barriers can be created with lime, sawdust, bark, and coffee grounds around the beds. Some gardeners claim that dusting plants with powdered materials such as wood ash, coffee grounds, pine needles, or crushed eggshells can prevent slugs and snails.
Snails do not climb uneven surfaces and do not overcome high obstacles. In dry weather, the beds are fenced with a sawdust strip, at least 15 cm wide, which is watered with strong coffee with sediment. A solution of caffeine is a deadly poison for slugs. Instead of coffee, you can try loose black tea.
Crushed egg shells prevent slugs from moving. It sticks to their mucous membrane and they cannot move. It must be poured in a strip of at least 10 cm without interruption, and around the entire circumference around the flower bed.
Table salt poisons snails. Carefully pour salt around the beds onto the foil, making sure that it does not get into the soil. You can try sprinkling ground pepper on the most visited places for shellfish.
Avoid using loose mulch (straw, hay and chopped wood). Where often they are found, compost is used.
If the garden allows hedgehogs and birds to find shelter, you can count on their help in the fight against snails. Continuous, patient and constant collection of slugs is laborious but very effective.
Beer traps attract slugs and some fall into the beer and drown. Unfortunately, the smell can attract pests from neighboring gardens and thus exacerbate the problem.
With the help of lettuce leaves, you can collect from 20 to 30 individuals at once. In the evening, put lettuce leaves under a wet bag, and wait for them to gather under the bag the next day.
To better collect them, you can create a trap from wet boards by placing them on bare soil around the plants. At night, snails crawl under a cool and damp place after a hearty meal. They do well where it is damp and dark.
They collect pests in containers
Every morning, the boards are turned over and the hiding pests are collected in containers of hot water.
The active ingredient iron phosphate, which is approved for organic farming, is converted by microorganisms in the soil into products available to plants. The substance is harmless to domestic and wild animals (e.g. hedgehogs). The pellet lures the slugs out of their hiding places and shortly after they have grabbed the bait, stops them from eating. After a few days, the pests die.
Note! The large slug, which is called the Spanish, although originally from Portugal, is able to adapt to different types of habitat, and is able to destroy the entire crop. Spanish slugs drive out native species and, if given the right conditions, reproduce to terrible proportions.
However, the Spanish slug has a natural enemy – the tiger snail from the snail family, 10 to 20 centimeters long.
This beneficial insect eats not only rotting parts of plants and dead animals, but also the eggs of the Spanish slug, and even feeds on the slugs themselves. Therefore, tiger snails should not be fought under any circumstances. This also applies to Roman and striped snails.
Destroy snail eggs in the garden in autumn
Egg laying occurs from mid-August to late September, sometimes until mid-December. Small individuals, up to 1.5 cm long, usually hatch from the first days of April.
In autumn, gardeners should take precautions for next year. Locate clutch and remove eggs laid in damp soil, under mulch or rocks.
Plants are resistant to pests
Slugs do not like fragrant plants. They are repelled by garlic, thyme, sage, dill, lavender, peony, parsley, motherwort, and calendula. Densely planted, they are a barrier to snails. From vegetables, snails eat almost everything, especially green salad.
Note! A raised bed makes it difficult for snails to access vegetables.
If slugs are consistently causing problems, it’s time to take action and maintain control from the start of the growing season using the methods outlined above. Snail chemicals should only be used in the garden if slugs are infested.