The Q&A Archives: Skeletal Marigolds

Question: Something is eating our marigolds and whatever it is eats the leaves and just leaves the stems and flowers. They look like skeletons. What should we do? This seems to happen every year. We have tried spraying them with a mild solution of oil, water and dish-soap but to no avail.

Answer: I suspect you are dealing with that night time raider, the slug. Slugs leave behind a shiny little slime trail, but that's all you are likely to see. You can stop them with bait (apply very carefully according to the package instructions, it is poisonous to children and pets and so on) or trap them with saucers of beer or inverted citrus rinds, you can hand pick them at night (I use tongs) and drop them into soapy water, you can encourage their enemies the toads and the birds, and finally, you can try barriers such as copper strips or a band of diatomaceous earth. Finally, if you are really mad at them, you can shoot them with a squirt gun filled with ammonia and water. The good news is with some TLC your marigolds may recover.

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