If you have an invading slug/snail army coming into your garden, there are a few signs you can look out for:
Slugs are messy, they never clean up after themselves. Look out for slime trails on hard surfaces, leaves, and stems. If you see a silvery deposit, they have arrived.
Are you seeing little holes in plant tissue? No, it’s not the grandkids with a potato shooter, it’s the slugs. They leave these holes with their rasping mouths.
Finally, long-keeled slugs of the milacidae family live underground and tunnel into potato tubes and bulbs. Look out for damage that is similar to that of wireworms.
So, how do you take control of this? Well slugs are so abundant in UK gardens that some damage, unfortunately, has to be tolerated. It’s best to try targeted control measures to protect vulnerable plants, such as seedling and young shoots.
Here is a list of non-chemical control measures that could be effective in controlling your snail army!
* Transplanting sturdy plantlets grown in pots, rather than young vulnerable seedlings. Transplants can be given some protection with cloches
* Torchlight searches on mild evenings, especially when the weather is damp; hand-picking slugs into a container. They can then be taken to a field, hedgerow or patch of waste ground well away from gardens.
* Some birds, frogs, toads, hedgehogs, slow-worms and ground beetles eat slugs and these predators should be encouraged in gardens
* Raking over soil and removing fallen leaves during winter can allow birds to eat slug eggs that have been exposed
* Traps, such as scooped out half orange, grapefruit or melon skins, can be laid cut side down, or jars part-filled with beer and sunk into the soil near vulnerable plants. Check and empty these regularly, preferably every morning. Proprietary traps are also available from garden centres and mail order suppliers
* Barriers, thought to repel slugs, include rough or sharp textured mulches and substances thought to be distasteful or strong smelling. Copper-base barriers have been shown to repel slugs in some studies. A recent RHS study in a garden-realistic scenario however, found no reduction in slug damage from barriers made of copper tape, bark mulch, eggshells, sharp grit or wool pellets
While there are many pesticides available to kill slugs, these are the most humane ways to deal with them.
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