Purge Slimy Slugs and Snails from Your Landscape

Holes in your plants’ foliage? Leaves that were full and healthy yesterday, and are gone now? Yes, this could be the work of snails or slugs (shell-less snails), those always hungry terrestrial mollusks found in yards across the country. Here’s how to address the situation.

 

Know Their Favorite Foods

Snails and slugs eat a wide variety of garden plants. Some of their favorites include: tender seedlings, tulips, lilies, hostas, delphiniums, petunias, lobelia, primroses, violas, berries and most leafy greens in the vegetable garden. The list is long. Find shaved off edges and holes in the leaves on any of these plants? Place snails and slugs high on the list of likely suspects.

 

Look for Evidence

Typically, snails and slugs don’t venture far from the scene of the crime. Poke around the damaged plants to find the culprits. These critters prefer moist, shady spots and hide during the day under fallen leaves, logs, boards, flat stones and flower pots. Find just one slimy villain and odds are good more are lurking nearby.

 

Giant slug gliding across a lettuce leaf.

Slugs and snails feast on a variety of garden plants including lettuce, beans, corn, hostas and strawberries.

Hit Them Where It Hurts

Snails and slugs travel on a layer of slime they put down to create a comfortable surface between their soft bodies and the rough ground. Many natural snail and slug repellents attack this layer with fossilized shells of diatoms, a type of marine algae. The material which is known as diatomaceous earth, looks like talcum powder but for these critters feels anything but soothing and smooth.  Instead, it works as a desiccant drawing moisture from the snail’s and slug’s bodies and drying them out.

 

Lay Down Protective Rings

To protect plants, first check to confirm that there are no snails or slugs hiding in the base foliage. Then sprinkle a ring of the organic snail and slug repellent around the plants to create a protective circle. The slimy critters won’t cross a band of repellent made with diatomaceous earth.

 

Or Bait Them

Other natural snail and slug deterrents are designed to be eaten.  Made with a wheat flour base, these baits incorporate a naturally occurring soil ingredient that when ingested, causes the snails and slugs to stop feeding and die.

 

Dinner is Served, Now and Next Week

To use snail baits, simply sprinkle the granules around the infested area. Safe around kids, pets and other wildlife, these organic repellent products kill snails and slugs for several weeks.

The next time you’re feeling distraught about the slugs in your garden be thankful you don’t live in parts of the West Coast where banana slugs are common. (You do? Our condolences.) These spotted yellow monsters grow to 10” long and can eat huge amounts of plant material in a day. The good news?  Thankfully, banana slugs, too, can also be controlled with natural slug repellents.

 

10/23/2013    Insects, Snails & Slugs, Uncategorized