The Q&A Archives: What is eating the pansy foliage?

Question: I have set out several successive flats of pansies, only to have the foliage almost completely eaten every time. I suspect slugs, though others have mentioned rabbits or squirrels. We feed the birds, so we would rather not put out toxic slug bait; is there something easier than saucers of stale beer?

Answer: Slugs probably are eating the foliage of your pansies. To make certain, go outside at night with a flashlight and see if you can catch them in the act. Hand-pick them as you find them. You can make effective slug traps out of cottage cheese or margarine tubs. Make a couple of windows by cutting one-inch squares out of alternate sides of the tubs, fill with a few inches of beer, top with lids, and sink the traps into the soil, about an inch below the openings. (That way beneficial ground beetles won't accidentally fall in and get trapped.) Slugs will be attracted to the beer, crawl into the traps and drown. Empty and refill as necessary until you've lowered the slug population in your garden.

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