Irises forum: Slug killing Tips & Tricks sharing

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William
Mar 23, 2017 2:22 PM CST
I have posted this method in other places on garden.org previously, but though that it might interest some on here as well. There is never just one method to kill slugs, different strategies are often needed, but currently using feeding stations filled with slug pellets is my favorite. This is more environmental friendly and much more economical than placing the pellets on the ground as the pellets are protected and virtually nothing goes to waste.

The feeding stations are simply a small box with some ventilation holes and an opening on the side, large enough for a slug to enter, but small enough to keep most other animals out. It will eat pellets until its full and then crawl away and die somewhere else. I use an iron phosphate based pellet called Ferramol, I believe this is called Sluggo in the US. 15-20 pellets is recommended to start with to see if the area is a good one for a feeding station. More can be used if there are many slugs, but too much may cause the pellets to mold and they will loose their effectiveness.

Sorry, this is in Swedish but you can look at how one of these pre-made feeding stations look like here: https://www.snigelshopen.se/sn... . Overpriced and not available to most of you, but if you look at the pictures you should easily be able to do your own from a suitable plastic box. Just perhaps dull the edges a bit on the entry hole so it isn't too sharp.

The moisture in the night air should be sufficient to release the scent from the bait and lure the slugs. Possible exceptions would perhaps be a very arid climate, but then slugs hopefully aren't a super big problem. A stone on top works well to secure the lid and keep other animals out of the box for me, but you might need other methods if local wildlife or pets is very inquisitive.

Slugs have a tendency to follow the slime trails of other slugs so you may find the effectiveness of these boxes to actually increase over time until you exhausted the local slug population. The problem with pellets in a box is the same as for pellets directly on the ground, sometimes the plants you try to protect are more desirable than the bait, so they will go after them instead or they simply refuse to abandon the protected spot they are already in. Small slugs are often also reluctant to move around in my experience. So some hand picking might still be necessary, especially in the beginning.

If you have an open compost its a really good idea to place a few boxes there as well. For me its actually a corner stone in my slug fighting strategy. Sooner or later almost all slugs find their way to the compost heap and when they do, they will also find the pellets and it's lights out.

I have handpicked thousands of slugs over the years and I'm well aware about the controversy regarding some of the additives in slug pellets. There is a possibility that these can be harmful to other garden inhabitants than slugs, but this way much less ends up in the wrong places. This is not a recommendation to use slug pellets, of course it's better if you don't need to, but if you decide that it becomes necessary, you are at least aware that there is a more environmentally friendly and cost effective way to use them.

I haven't tried different brands of slug bait, but I suspect the method would work for many other brands as well. Just don't use any of the very dangerous ones that kills slugs instantly. Besides being very harmful, they wouldn't work well with this method anyway as the feeding stations would simply fill up with dead slugs and become useless in a very short time.
Name: Stewart
Pinehurst, Texas (Zone 8b)
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PlantMania
Mar 23, 2017 2:48 PM CST
I grind egg shells to almost a powder and pour a line around my plants. The shell powder, even though small still have razor sharp edges and cut into slugs as well as cabbage worms.

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Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
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crawgarden
Mar 23, 2017 3:34 PM CST
My Mom would place 2 clay pots on top of each other (smaller and larger pot, with just enough room for the slugs to slip between the sides) at different spots in the garden ;the slugs would gather there during the day to stay cool and dark...than pick the pots up and dispose of the slugs.
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Name: Leslie
Durham, NC (Zone 8a)
Region: North Carolina Irises Cat Lover Garden Photography Enjoys or suffers hot summers Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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Lestv
Mar 23, 2017 3:40 PM CST
I am enjoying reading all these methods. Do any of them kill earwigs too? Always find them where I have slugs.
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Name: Arlyn
Whiteside County, Illinois (Zone 5a)
Irises Beekeeper Region: Illinois Celebrating Gardening: 2015
crowrita1
Mar 24, 2017 6:46 AM CST
Thanks for the tips ! I only have a slug problem on a few hostas............I think the birds help me out, quite a bit
Name: Lilli
Copenhagen, Denmark, EU
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IrisLilli
Mar 24, 2017 11:42 AM CST
Good tips! Thank You!

I use beer traps, which is the most effective method here. I also use pieces of old logs or bark (boards work too, but are less decorative) where slugs like to hide and from where they can easily be collected and disposed of. I also make a habit of walking around the garden in the evening, when the dew has moistened everything and the slugs come out to feed and can be stomped on, speared, cut in half or whatever method of disposal one prefers.

The new type of Ferramol, which is slow to take effect compared to the old type (which was also less environmentally friendly of course) does not work here - either the slugs prefer my hostas or other garden tidbits or they - somewhat infuriatingly - eat the pellets as an hors d'oeuvre before proceeding to the nearest of my precious plants. Grumbling

William, I like the idea of baiting the slugs near the compost heap (and maybe in other places where they are likely to 'hang out') as that would probably mean they would be killed by the pellets _before_ reaching my plants. Certainly worth a try! Thumbs up

Another thing I have learned is to avoid growing things they really like - but I would be very sad if I had to give up on my hostas! Crying
You don't know if it will grow until you try!
Sweden
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William
Mar 24, 2017 3:05 PM CST
crowrita1 said:Thanks for the tips ! I only have a slug problem on a few hostas............I think the birds help me out, quite a bit


It's nice when things are in balance. Smiling Slugs didn't use to be much of a problem here, both birds and hedgehogs were eating them, but now we unfortunately are overrun with the the very aptly nicknamed killer slug. It's a highly invasive species that lays twice as many eggs as our native slugs. On top of that it's so slimy that basically all our native animals refuses to eat them. Grumbling
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Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Hellebores Deer
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William
Mar 24, 2017 5:25 PM CST
Lilli, up until last year I used the same methods as you do. Last year was horrible for me, so that was why I started with the pellets. The garden here is over 4000m2. While only a part of it is cultivated, that's still a lot of slugs that need capture and the time this took, especially the nightly rounds with flash lights were damaging my sleep as I need to get up early in the morning.

I do like beer traps. I made my own from plastic bottles with the top cut of and reversed to hinder the drunken slugs from exiting. Effective but took quite some time to maintain and clean. Very nasty and smelly to empty the traps after a few days as well. In the end handpicking usually was more efficient for me.

I'm curious if you reapplied the pellets every day March to November. I only ask because I initially didn't think the pellets were that good, but when I switched to using the feeding stations the pellets were out there every day as opposed to only sometimes as it takes very little effort and amount of pellets to refill them. You don't need to get them all in one night, but a few every night makes a huge difference given time. At least this is my experience.

The worst thing here at this time of year is normally the damage to crown imperials as they are so early with smelly foliage which really seems to draw in the slugs. They feed on the shoots already bellow ground and in that protected position no trap can draw them out. So far this year I only have a fraction of the slug damage of last year, but will know better as it warms up.
[Last edited by William - Mar 24, 2017 5:27 PM (+)]
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Sweden
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Hellebores Deer
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William
Mar 24, 2017 5:35 PM CST
Lestv said:I am enjoying reading all these methods. Do any of them kill earwigs too? Always find them where I have slugs.




In my garden earwigs generally don't cause serious harm and I like their appetite for aphids, so I haven't had any reason to fight them. They can eat up to 150 aphids a day, which is on par with a ladybug! However I can see that an invasion of them would cause serious problems when they run out of prey and go after the plants.

Have you tried traps of hollow bamboo or similar?

I don't think slug pellets would kill earwigs unless you choose a more toxic product such as Sluggo Plus which also contains Spinosad. I admit that it wouldn't be my choice, but it is a possibility. Smiling I have noted that the product I use does seem to kill pill bugs, although it doesn't say so on the bag.

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UndertheSun
Mar 24, 2017 6:36 PM CST
Earwigs will chew on newly sprouted leaves and they eat aphids. So you have to take the good with the bad. When they become a problem for the plants, I place used cooking oil traps to catch them. (It also catches some slugs..) I have wood chips around my iris beds and the earwigs can become a problem at times. Regrettably, the wild turkey's will soon be back and rid the garden of anything and everything they think is eatable.
Name: Barbara
Northern CA (Zone 9a)
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iciris
Mar 24, 2017 8:39 PM CST
Cooking oil traps... Please tell me more.
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Sweden
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Hellebores Deer
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William
Mar 25, 2017 1:02 AM CST
I guess we need a thread on how to deal with turkeys. Sad My own nightmare scenario is if the wild boars, that are very close to me, find their way into the garden.
Cooking oil traps for earwigs do sound very efficient. Wonder if the one portrayed in this Wiki is similar to the one you use, Rob?: http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid...

Name: Lilli
Copenhagen, Denmark, EU
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IrisLilli
Mar 25, 2017 1:59 AM CST
William, we too have the so-called 'killer slugs' (Arion lusitanicus) and those are my main problem.

Yes, I applied the pellets regularly all season and it did kill a lot of slugs, but did not save my plants. I will try the 'pellet station' approach and see how it works for me.

So far, I have used home made beer traps made from old jars and plastic bottles. This year I'm trying out some commercial traps I found online, which look better in the garden and are easy to empty and refill. They also have the added bonus of small entry holes, which will not allow my big, harmless Burgundy snails (aka Roman snail or Helix pomatia) to enter and drown themselves.

Last year was the worst yet for me too, but at least my garden is small and easier to 'patrol'.
You don't know if it will grow until you try!
Sweden
Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Hellebores Deer
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William
Mar 25, 2017 6:57 AM CST
Lilli, I'm sorry that the pellets on the ground never worked for you. One thing a feeding station might be better for is that there can be a lot of pellets in one place, so it might be easier for the slugs to satisfy their appetite as compared to single pellets on the ground. The feeding stations only have one opening as well, so would probably be likely to spend some time in there and eat more pellets. If the slug is still hungry it would have all the more reason to continue to the nearest plant. However that is speculation on my part.

Burgundy snails are beautiful, but unfortunately not harmless here as they can do great damage, particularly to dahlias.

Do let us know how your new beer traps work out!
Name: Niki
Bend, Oregon (Zone 6a)
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HighdesertNiki
Mar 25, 2017 3:15 PM CST
Last year slugs voraciously ate my newly planted Dahlias while I went on vacations. I think it caused later blooms and one didn't make it at all. Diatomaceous Earth from the local feed store was sprinkled on them before my third trip and they left the plants alone then. It's sharp for things that small, and not poisonous.

It sounds like a board near the compost heap should be helpful for me in the future.
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Name: Lilli
Copenhagen, Denmark, EU
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IrisLilli
Mar 27, 2017 4:57 AM CST
Set up several pellet stations in my iris beds this morning. Sure hope it works! Crossing Fingers!

You don't know if it will grow until you try!
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Bulbs Lilies Bee Lover Irises Hellebores Deer
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William
Mar 27, 2017 10:06 AM CST
Crossing Fingers! Crossing Fingers! Crossing Fingers!
Name: Jan Wax
Mendocino County, N. CA (Zone 9a)
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janwax
Apr 14, 2017 9:58 AM CST
I'm going to try your sniggle traps, William! We have so many snails and slugs!
VOTE!
Name: Lilli
Copenhagen, Denmark, EU
Irises Roses Bulbs Hellebores Foliage Fan Cottage Gardener
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IrisLilli
Apr 14, 2017 10:24 AM CST
Set up even more pellet stations and sprinkled loose pellets over the worst affected areas during the week as the damage to my irises increased - in one of the beds they have even munched the blooms on all my daffodils - never had that happen before... Blinking

[Edited to add: The new beer traps are working well and I remove the old beer full of dead slugs and snails several times a week - surely that will have an effect sooner or later? I do hope for 'sooner'! ]
You don't know if it will grow until you try!
[Last edited by IrisLilli - Apr 14, 2017 10:26 AM (+)]
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(Zone 9b)
Region: California
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UndertheSun
Apr 14, 2017 11:15 AM CST
Put a pizza next to the beer traps and you might trap me too.

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