The Q&A Archives: Early Season Slug and Snail prevention

Question: In the early or 'pre-spring' e-mails, there was a tip about creating a early bait perimeter around the yard to prevent the majority of snails and slugs that would be hatching. I'm trying to find this tip to share with a friend so we can mark our calendars and be ready next year. Can you send me that tip/article? I haven't been able to find it on the website after quite some time of searching! Thank you!

Answer: There are lots of things you can do to discourage slugs and snails. You can start by turning the soil around your perennials to expose eggs to birds and the weather. You can also sprinkle lime around your perennials. In the spring, remove mulch and leaf litter near your plants to reduce the moist conditions necessary for their survival. Slugs and snails can be removed by handpicking. The best time to look for them is a few hours after dark using a flashlight. Slug and snail traps can be made by filling shallow containers with beer and placing in a hole in the soil so that the rims are level with the soil. These pests are attracted by the yeasty smell and will fall in and drown. Before putting down the traps, water the area to encourage slug and snail activity that night. Placing a board on the ground, raised about one-inch, is another trap option. It provides a daytime hiding place for these pests that you can then lift to locate and dispose of them.

Protect plants by sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the plants. Diatomaceous earth is very sharp and scratches the skin of these soft-bodied critters, resulting in dehydration and death. It must be reapplied after a rain or watering. Products containing iron phosphate, such as Sluggo, Escar-Go, Schultz Slug & Snail Bait, or Bayer Advanced Dual Action Snail & Slug Killer Bait. Iron phosphate will stop feeding by the snails and slugs quickly, and is much less harmful to pets, birds, and non-target insects than metaldehyde. Any unconsumed iron phosphate bait adds nutrients to the soil.

Anytime the temperatures are above 40F, you can expect slugs and snails to be active so instead of marking your calendar, just check the weather forecast. If you discourage them early in the growing season, you'll have a hand up on the pests.

Best wishes with your garden!

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