Slug Wars: Slug Control for Organic Gardens

| 7/22/2016 9:01:00 AM

Tags: slugs, pest control, wildlife, Susan Slape Hoysagk, Oregon,

Acrobatic slug munching on a Stargazer lily bud.

Super slug acrobat munching a Stargazer lily bud.

After my success with the potato bugs, I was feeling quite cocky. Until today. I have just come in from my garden where I noticed those shiny, slimy tell-tale slug trails in my veggies and a number of cucumber leaves with large slug-munch holes. Gah!

I live in the slug capital of the world. Well, at least it feels that way. We do see an occasional snail, but for the most part, it is those long, brown European red slugs, Arion rufus. In my area, they are rusty brown to really dark brown, and some are probably the black slug Arion ater, but without dissecting the things to check out the reproductive anatomy, there is no way to tell.

Frankly, makes no difference what their names are, and the closest I will ever come to dissecting a slug is cutting one in-half with my garden trowel. There are other species of slugs here, but these are the ones I find in my garden. Now for a little slug-fo ("slug" and "info". Clever, eh? I’m like that, you know).

'Slug-Fo' 101

Slugs belong to the large class of gastropods, from the Latin gastro (stomach) and pod (foot), and they do in fact serve a purpose by literally eating their way through life. Makes sense if you are basically just a stomach traveling around on a slimy foot — and eat they do!

8/14/2016 1:24:39 PM

Hi Jura and Anonymouse - thank you for sharing your experiences! Good to know about the Dominique hens and the nettle slurry. People keep telling me "just put salt on them." Besides the gooey mess this leaves behind, salt is not good for your plants. Especially in the amount I would have to use!

8/12/2016 9:01:50 PM

Large Fowl Dominique hens are excellent for slug and snail control. Our Black Star hen used to puff her feathers in disgust when she followed the Dominique ladies food calls and found that they were eating *slimy* things. The Dominiques even went under the deck to pick slugs and snails from the underside. We had our backyard, up to and including our trees, overrun with slugs and snails. After having the Dominiques out for about four hours a day for two or three weeks I went out one evening and realized that there were NO slugs on the deck, in the trees, or anywhere else I looked.

8/12/2016 4:07:59 AM

Thanks for sharing your knowledge. A few words from my observation: Neighboring ducks and geese avoided eating slugs unless faced starvation. 2 years ago we had invasion of the barbarian slimy tribe, what made me to find out ways to combat it. Beer traps and manual collecting after evening rains- #1 way of ad hock decreasing their number. Copper wire coiled around mushroom stumps and raised bed edges curbed with copper strip stood for a #1 mean of preventing them from foraging on my crops. It worked until the copper got oxidized and as such stood as no hindrance to the beasts. (treating with an abrasive paper helped) Coarse material (shattered glass ) placed on their pathways did not work at all btw. Firstly I used to put my mucous harvest into a jar with a salt (which produced a waste product of no future use), but then stared to think in a permaculture way and dumped the collected slugs into nettle slurry (or high temp compost pile).

8/11/2016 11:39:59 PM

Hello Martha and thank you for taking time to comment. I have heard of people using copper wire and strips for slugs, thank you for sharing. I have not had problems with my potted plants but will keep this in mind for future use. Thanks! Susan

7/28/2016 7:11:58 AM

Finding damage to houseplants that spent the summer outside, I realized snails and slugs were responsible. I tried using copper tape and also wrapping pots with copper wire seems to work. I read that copper gives the pests a "shock." Though I have not witnessed it happening, this summer there were a few wandering snails & slugs in the morning. I believe the copper works in preventing them from getting into the planters.

7/23/2016 5:07:55 PM

Hi Amanda! It has taken me some years to get things under control. Late summer into fall is when they lay their eggs. Some hatch and some over-winter to hatch early next spring (also a good time to really hit them. I never get rid of all of them but I have cut their numbers down significantly. Look up slug eggs online,especially the pictures. Finding and destroying them are very helpful in decreasing their numbers. Food grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE)is something that works well in dry conditions. It isn't an instant kill but is another method of attack. Just keep trying and thanks for reading my blog and stopping in to comment!

7/22/2016 2:44:41 PM

Hi Susan, slugs are my nemesis too! Every year they plague me, and it seems that no matter what I do, I can never get rid of them all. I have tried beer traps but that didn't seem to work well for me. Salt works if you can pour a bit right on them, or I have had success with a diluted ammonia spray. This year I resorted to using slug bait (iron phosphate) because I just didn't know what else to do-here in Calgary in June and July the days are so long that I would have to be outside at 2 am in order to pick them off the plants at night. I do go out first thing in the morning, and as you said, after a rain there seems to be more of them out there and I pick of quite a few. Mine are small brown ones here, harder to find, but just as voracious! I picked quite a few off of my rhubarb this morning!

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