Slugs are mollusks, in the same family as oysters or clams, and are basically snails without a shell. These destructive pests have been known to devour your bulbs, vegetables, annuals, perennials, shrubs and more. One of their favorite snacks seems to be hostas. Thick leafed hostas tend to be a bit more slug resistant than thin leafed. Slugs are nocturnal and have the ability to destroy a seedling overnight. They hang out under mulch, in between boards and under various weeds and debris during the day, and require moisture to move around. This is why we see so many signs of them after a rain or during particularly humid nights. Slugs use a radula, a mouth covered in small teeth, to chew herbaceous plants, fruit on the ground and seedlings. The damage they cause is identifiable by the irregular shaped holes in the leaves they chew on.
As you may have noticed, we are having a very wet spring here in Northeast Kansas. While the yards are greening up and flowers are blooming, you may have also noticed a thriving slug population in your gardens and flower beds. What are these slimy things, and what do I do about them?
There are several options for getting rid of slugs, and a few suggestions for reducing the risk of slug habitation. We offer Hi-Yield Slug and Snail Bait, Sluggo, and Diatomaceous Earth in our garden store. The Slug and Snail Bait temporarily paralyzes the slug until it dries out from the sun. With Sluggo, the snail takes the bait to its hiding place and within 2-6 days, it dies. It can be used in organic garden, and is safe for use around kids and pets. Diatomaceous Earth is a natural approach to killing slugs. Also known as insect dust, it causes the slugs to dehydrate. Do not breathe it in as it can be harmful to your lungs. Each of these has a different approach to killing slugs, but should have the same results in the end. Some people have also found that collecting slugs and dropping them in soapy water or creating beer traps have also been effective for slug eradication. On the other hand, watering in the morning as opposed to the evening can create less of an appealing environment for slugs. Also, removing as much debris and potential hiding places for slugs altogether is another approach.
Remember, while slugs will always be something that we have to deal with, there are effective ways to keep them from ruining all of our hard work in our gardens and flower beds. And as in most situations, the earlier we detect their presence, the sooner we can work to limit the damage they do.