Ugh. Slugs. A Swedish woman is in the news for battling Spanish “killer” slugs in her garden. She picked off 1,773 of the repulsive looking things.
While I don’t face any slugs that are known as killer, last night I came home to notice that slugs had been hard at work on some of my hostas, a byproduct of all the rains we’ve been having. Every year the hosta start out so upright, pristine and beautiful. Then eventually some slugs sneak past our defenses and those once-pretty leaves gain the telltale holes.
My slug problem is much more manageable than the Swedish woman’s, but it gave me flashbacks to our early years of battling slugs. We first tried to manage them with beer-baited slug traps, which caught only a small percentage. (Oddly, they seemed to prefer cheap beer, so don’t waste your craft brews.) We tried diatomaceous earth, but that didn’t seem to have much effect and need to be replaced after each rainfall. We used copper tape around the edges but couldn’t see any noticeable change in their traffic patterns. We spread crushed eggshells, which some people say they’ve had success with, but to no avail. Ditto with coffee grounds for us.
The only way we put a real dent in the population was going out at night armed with headlamps, tweezers and a bucket of soapy water. It was reasonably effective, but it’s hard to catch them all.
I try to stick to squishing the invaders, but there were just too many of them. It wasn’t until we found a pesticide I was willing to use that we really turned the tide. (Sluggo is billed as organic, safe for use around pets and wildlife and OK to use on vegetables as well as ornamentals. Escargo is another brand in that category.) So long as we remember to reapply after each rainstorm, it’s done a good job. I’m paranoid enough I don’t use it around vegetables, but I know people who have. (Be careful to look for a repellent that contains iron phosphate, there are also metaldehyde-based baits but those aren’t pet-safe and some brands also contain another chemical to enhance effectiveness that may accidentally kill some beneficial insects.)