Slimy Slugs: Dreaded Garden Pests

Slugs are slow-moving cousins of the snail and are commonly garden pests, especially in humid regions. These yucky little guys are involved in the worst (or at least most disgusting) and most personal garden pest experience that I have ever had. I was enjoying a beautiful homegrown organic salad, minding my own business when, suddenly, my mouth became completely coated with the slimiest slime that I have ever known. I immediately spit out the offending mouthful of food and saw that there was a teeny tiny slug, or at least most of one, in it. The slime coating in my mouth stayed for at least half an hour, despite many efforts to rid myself of it. Just thinking of it makes me shudder and renews my dislike of slugs.

Your organic slug control strategy is threefold: take their homes away, keep new slugs from moving in and kill any slugs who dare to remain. So, on to the first step, eliminating their habitat. Slugs like to live in damp, shady places during the day and awake to forage in your delicious organic garden at night. By removing tall grass or weeds, rotting logs, boards or any plant detritus (including your compost pile) from your immediate garden area you will eliminate a lot of potential slug habitat.

The second slug control strategy is to create a slug barrier around your garden. The barrier can be made or anything that will poke, stab, dry out or otherwise irritate the slugs. There are many types of organic slug barriers that you can try in your organic garden.
Among the materials of choice are lava rocks, eggshells, lime (calcium carbonate), hardware cloth, copper strips whatever other sharp, drying materials you can think of.

The third step and the one that gives you the most extensive slug exposure (yuck!) is trapping any slugs who persist in calling your garden home. You can accomplish this by luring slugs with the bait of your choosing. Many people swear by using beer as slug bait but for the teetotalers among us, there are various non-alcoholic baits available, either homemade, such as a sugar water and yeast mixture, or purchased, such as Sluggo. Slugs can also be trapped
by luring them with the promise of a snug, dark, moist home (such as under a piece of plywood) and then can be killed by squishing them or sprinkling them with salt.

By combining these organic slug control strategies, you will be able to safely keep these pests out of your garden and out of your salad.

For more Information

Various slug trivia and control strategies can be found at the King County, WA natural Yard Care

The specifics of Sluggo can be found at: PestProducts

Some excellent information about slugs, their biology and their habits can be found at: Backyard Nature

An extensive list of slug barrier materials can be found at  Golden Harvest Organics

See Also:
There's a Goosefoot in my Garden
It's Easy to Grow Great Garlic
How Does Your Garden Grow Part One: Getting to Know Your Soil
Bountiful Basil

Digg! digg it

Tammy Biondi has been growing organic produce for over 10 years. Besides running Blue Horizon Farm, Tammy teaches about sustainable farming at the Central Carolina Community College. She also is a successful freelance writer, focusing on agricultural topics. Contact her at tammy@bluehorizonfarm.com.