The Q&A Archives: SLUGS

Question: what can I do to keep slugs and other bugs from eating all the leafs from my vegetable plants?

Answer: Slugs can be controlled in a number of ways, but it also helps to understand the conditions that favor them. Damp weather and lots of hiding places such as under mulch or under decaying plant material help them thrive. So does evening watering because it leaves the garden damp for the night when it takes longer to dry out. You can control them by handpicking at night when they are active (I use tongs and drop them into soapy water). You can also trap them with either a commercially available trap or by setting a beer filled saucer into the soil. (The slugs fall in and drown.) There are also commercial slug baits available, but if you use those be very careful to read and follow all of the label instructions, especially if you have children or pets. In some cases it may be possible to place the bait under a board that is slightly elevated, just to keep it out of reach to all but slugs. Finally, encouraging their natural predators can also help; for example birds, toads and even some snakes will dine on slugs.

There are a few organic pesticides that you can use on your vegetables, but most are pest-specific. You'll want to identify the pests that are causing the damage and then choose a botanical (such as insecticidal soap for soft-bodied insects) to control them. Be sure to apply according to label directions!

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