The Q&A Archives: Slugs on Hostas

Question: How do I kill slugs in my hosta bed? I have tried beer. I have tried squashing. Is there a chemical I can use to kill them.

Answer: It's unfortunate that the environment that makes hostas thrive is the same environment that makes slugs happy. The chemical metaldehyde will kill slugs. It's found in various slug baits. Chemicals of this kind aren't your only options, though, and you might want to weigh the fact that metaldehyde is toxic to birds and animals that might frequent the area. If beer traps don't work for you, try using something on the soil that slugs won't crawl over, like ashes, crushed egg shells or diatomaceous earth. You can also remove leaf litter or mulch material from the soil (slugs like to hide in plant debris). There's a copper slug barrier tape available, too. A gardening catalog that carries these, and other slug deterrents is available from Gardener's Supply Co. (800) 863-1700, or Garden's Alive (812) 537-8650. After the leaves of your hostas die down this winter, rake the area well to remove any slug eggs that might be in the soil, just to keep the population down next year.

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