Slugs and Snails: How to get Rid of Them?

Al Ardh Alkhadra > Blog > Gardening > Slugs and Snails: How to get Rid of Them?

slugs and snails

Do you know that slugs and snails can cuase more damage to your plants in one night than some other garden pests?

While you may have worked for months to create a beautiful garden, snugs and snails may be feating on your tender seedlings, edibles, and other plants.

Morning reveals trials of slimy mucus and destruction few pests can match.

however, that does not happen in your garden if you take care of them in the first place.

You can protect your plants and get rid of slugs and snails for good.

Keep on reading to learn more about slugs and snails, and how you can identify them and prevent them from destroying your beautiful garden.

Understanding Slug and Snails

In order to get rid of slugs and snails, you first need to understand them.

These pests are not pests, so typical garden insecticides will not help you get rid of time.

Slugs and snails are mollusks, a category of creatures that also includes oysters, scallops, and squid.

Moreover, the best slug and snail control fall in a class of pesticides known as molluscicides.

It is important to note that both slugs and snails are close relatives and share man characteristics, including their eye-tipped forehead tentacles.

However, only snails tend to have visible shells.

Given their mollusk connections, slugs and snails prefer damp and dark places.

Furthermore, they rarely venture out during the daytime except on dark and cloudy days.

slugs and snails 1

When you are inspecting your garden on a sunny day, you can find shady garden nooks under the:

  • leaves
  • weeks
  • or damp garden debris

Slugs and snails are hermaphroditic, with each individual having both male and female reproductive organs.

Although slugs try the patience of the gardeners, they are not all bad.

For instance, the slugs found in compost heaps help with the process of decomposition, speeding this along.

Moreover, there are lots of slugs that have no interest in vegetables and prefer to eat things like algae instead.

And then there is their value as a food source for all manner of wildlife.

These range from beetles to birds to frogs and toads.

Like weeds, it is not that slugs are intrinsically bad, you just don’t want them in certain places, like around susceptible plants.

Identifying Slug and Snail Damage

Most garden slugs and snails are gray, dull orange, or dark brown. Moreover, they are 1 to 3 inches long.

They will hide in dark, damp, places during the day.

In most cases, you may be prompted to ask “Where do slugs come from?”

This is because they only feed at night and hide throughout the day.

However, if you realize that you have slug and snail damage, and are unable to find the culprits, you are not alone.

It is important to note that slugs and snails leave a slimy secretion where they move from, so even if you are unable to spot them, you will know that is there.

Look for slime on your plants and the surrounding soil.

It is one of the easiest ways to see the trail of slime first in the morning when you need to identify them.

You can also monitor slug and snail activity in your garden by digging holes that are about four inches wide and six inches deep.

Cover these holes with a board, and then check for slugs after three days,

If you see them, these might be the sneaky pests that are eating your plants.

Moreover, slugs and snails lay their eggs in moist soil or compost.

Their populations tend to grow rapidly in cool and moist conditions.

Where are Slugs and Snails Common?

It is important to note that slugs and snails are highest in warm, moist, humid climates.

The protective shells of the snails also influence their locations.

To form shells properly, snails will need calcium which wild snails get from the soil.

Moreover, this need limits their range to areas where natural soil and weather conditions combine to keep soil calcium readily available.

Their shells help them to tolerate these often drier climates as well.

However, shell-less, unprotected slugs do not need calcium as snails do, they will need moisture.

They flourish where it stays plentiful.

Furthermore, many slugs and snails tend to damage gardens that are not native to a certain area in a habitat.

Non-native species are those which you may bring from another region into your country.

What Attracts them to your Garden?

Gardens and lawns are particularly attractive to slugs and snails, as they are often irrigated or watered regularly.

Gardens tend to provide ample spots for shelter from the sun and winds that can dry out these pests.

Moreover, they also provide a smorgasbord of the tender leaves and shoots that slugs and snails prefer.

Even in case, low rainfall strikes your area, these intruders can count on well-maintained gardens and lawns for the moisture and food they will need.

what they eat

During sunny days and hot summers, slugs, and snails shelter where they can stay cool and moist.

They come out at night or when there is a cloud or fog rolling in your area.

In and around your garden, you can find them in staying comfortable and most under dense undercover, untented weeds, leaf debris, discarded boards, and similar objects.

Removing these hiding spots, using drip irrigation instead of overhead watering, and planting drought-resistant plants, you can make your garden less attractive.

Learn more about Drought-Tolerant Plants that will survive in the Driest Conditions here.

How do they Harm your Plants?

Slugs and snails feed on living and decomposing plant material, however, they also prefer young, tender plant growths.

New seedlings that sprout and have soft growth established on plants are often the first targets while lettuces and tender herbs like basil are also favorites.

This is because these plants are foliage plants like hostas.

As slugs and snails feed, they create large, irregular-shaped holes.

Unlike through uneven edges that chewing insects may leave, slugs and snails leave smooth edges.

Moreover, slug and snail damage does not stop with foliage and tender stems.

These pests feed on succulent fruits like strawberries and tomatoes and even citrus fruits.

They also tend to avoid plants that have rough, aromatic leaves like rosemary.

Unencumbered by shells, slugs like to spend time underground in search of moisture.

There they threaten root crops, newly planted seeds, and bulbs.

As slugs and snails feel at night, holes and mucus trails may be your only evidence.

However, the final clue you will see is the extent of damage they cause.

These creatures consume a number of times their own weight in the plant material every day, traveling as far as 50 feet to feed.

Moist moderate weather is spring and late falls are the prime times for slug and nail damage.

Control and Prevnetion

Removing Hiding Places

The first step towards managing these pests is to remove hiding places from within and around your main growing area.

Cut down long grasses right around your vegetable garden, through regular mowing, you will remove the opportunities for slugs and snails to lay low.

Moreover, remove debris lying about. Upturned pots, bits of wood, and old sacks are all potential hiding spots for these slippery slimesters.

Work within beds to make sure you remove any dead or dying leaves as well as any weeds.

Removing all this excess vegetation to the compost heap will help to keep things more open in your growing areas, improving airflow, and discouraging damp, shaded, conditions slugs love.

slugs and snails control

Trap and Remove them

Create a perfect slug and snail trap by lying boards or pieces of cardboard on the bare soil around your plants.

Start by watering the ground if it is dry, ca plank of wood or similar over the surface. Then check the next morning and you will find slugs lurking beneath.

Pick them off and return the plank to collect the next batch.

Citrus haves like that of grapefruit is very effective slug collectors as they create a cool, shady recess for slugs to hang out in.

Again, you will need to lay shells down at strategic locations, close to susceptible crops like salads or tender seedlings.

For something long-lasting, you can also use half a coconut shell at each corner of your raised bed which they are like to crawl in.

However, there are also beer traps, Any cheap beer will do, Sink the container into the ground to leave a bit of a lip, which will help reduce the risk of non-target species like beetles falling in and drowning.

Go on a Slug Hunt

If you really intend to make an impact, go out and hunt for the slugs when they are most likely to be out and gorging on the plants, i.e. at night, especially in warm, damp weather.

You will need a bucket and a flashlight for this. Head out soon after dusk to begin your hunt.

Relocate them to a less susceptible area, add them to your compost heap, or be sure to take them out to a nearby wooded area or similar.

Moreover, you can go further on slug hunt over th coming nights and you will sick up the stragglers and make an appreciable dent in the slug population.

Slug Pallet Alternatives

It is important to note that many have moved from commercial slug pallets due to their impact on other animals and the environment.

Many contain chemicals that do a good job of killing slugs, however, they can also cause harm to aminals higher up the food chain.

But you can take the alternatives.

One option is to use microscopic nematodes on the slug-affected ground.

The nematodes are first suspended in water and then simply watered over soil that has warmed up enough following the winter months.

These nematodes will find their way into the slugs where they infect them with deadly bacteria.

Though it may sound grim, these nematodes come with zero collateral damage, making them a very safe form of slug control.

What does not Work?

Though there are a number of solutions experts have tested, but are not very effective including copper tape, bark mulch, wood ash, coffee grounds, coarse sand, pine needles, eggshells, sharp grit, and wool pellets.

However, each study has found them to be useless.

There are different studies that indicate that a barrier of diatomaceous earth, DE can help.

This is a naturally occurring silica-based rock that can be crumbled into a fine powder.

Slug does not like crossing the moisture-sapping powder.

Just make sure you buy “food grade” DE.

Other Tips

Some other tips are:

  • some plants do well despite the presence of slugs and snails, you can try planting astilbe, phlox, or mint to reduce damage
  • water in the morning, as this will help the soil surface time to dry out a bit before nightfall when slugs come out
  • vulnerable crops like leafy greens and salads that start off in pots or plug trays away from the growing areas, and by the time you plant them, they will be much bigger, more robust, and better positioned to withstand attacks
  • you can protect transplants with cloches or any barrier that physically keeps slugs out like bottomless plastic bottles popped over

tips

  • if you are growing potatoes, dig them up as soon as they are ready as slugs love these tubers, while some varieties are more tolerant of slugs than others
  • slugs and snails have natural predators, and if you have chickens or ducks, they will help by eating these pests and their eggs
  • firefly larvae are also natural predators and the same goes for songbirds
  • companion planting is a great way to prevent pests, so in order to keep them away, place the trap and then destroy the infected plants
  • good traps for slugs are chervil, marigold, and thyme

Final Thoughts

Slugs and snails are common garden pests and are present in large numbers and can quickly eat and destroy a wide range of plants.

Garden snails and slugs eat vegetables and ornamental plants, especially seedlings with young and soft leaves. You can either remove them from hiding places, go on a snail hunt, or follow the above tips to control and prevent them.

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