There’s probably no need to tell you what they look like. Their silvery trails will tell you where they came from and where they went to after lunching on leaves of numerous garden plants abd vegetables, including juicy Hosta. But here are a few interesting, even amazing, facts that give clues as to just what the gardener is up against.
Up to 90% of slugs will be hiding underground during the day. On average 200 slugs live in a cubic metre/yard of soil. That means in an average sized garden there will be up to 15,000 slugs - and then there are the snails! They love the weather to be mild and damp, but they will still be around and hungry in the winter if the temperature stays above 5°C (41°F).
Holed, or in bad attacks, skeletal or near skeletal foliage. Holed tubers (potatoes, carrots etc) or bulbs. Pretty obvious stuff really!
Treatment and control
General tips: No garden will ever be free of slugs and snails. The approach should be to protect vulnerable plants. But at the same time, if you come across a slug or a snail you would be well advised to pick it up and dispose of it. Don’t throw them over the fence - they have a ‘homing’ instinct and will come back!
Surface control using pellets: Scatter pellets containing metaldehyde on the soil around vulnerable plants. A good example would be SlugClear Ultra, which is effective against all slugs and snails. The pellet contains 50% less chemical than traditional pellets and are rainproof for 14 days. A word for pet owners: We recommend that you keep SlugClear Ultra out of the reach of children and pets, both in storage and in use. Do not pile them up under bricks or half grapefruit skins.
Surface and underground control: Water over and around decorative vulnerable plants using a diluted concentrate liquid containing metaldehyde. This will deal with all those slugs that can’t be seen, as well as those slugs and snails which can. An example of this is SlugClear, which is a liquid and therefore invisible to pets. SlugClear gets to where the slugs and snails are - underground.
Biological control: Not effective at surface level but an underground option. Nematodes (parasitic worms) can be watered onto the soil and can help control slugs. They penetrate the slug and kill it.
The beer approach: If all else fails why not offer the pests a drink:
- Half fill a jam jar with beer.
- Sink it into the soil, its rim approximately 1cm above the soil surface (this prevents the good guys, such as beetles, from falling in).
- The aroma never fails to attract slugs and in seeking its source the pests simply fall in, drink the lot and get so drunk they can’t climb out! No they don’t, they drown!