Monday, June 18, 2007

Slugging it Out

Slugs can be a problem in greenhouses and some gardens. Adult slugs are soft, slimy, slender animals more closely related to clams and octopi than insects. Slugs have stalked eyes and two small feelers. Some species grow to three or more inches long. They use rasping mouthparts to scrape away vegetable material. This may leave ragged shaped holes in leaves of tender plants. Slugs are active at night and during cloudy, warm weather. During bright warm days, slugs usually hide under boards, stones, debris or tunnel into the soil.

Slug populations can be reduced by keeping raw composting materials away from the garden, "trapping" and destroying slugs under rocks or boards, or destroying them at night. Be careful not to over mulch where the mulch never dries. There are a few chemicals listed for slug treatment, but read the label carefully to determine if they are suitable in your garden or around pets. A saucer of beer is often suggested as a trap, but most experts feel that beer is better used as intended.

For more information on slugs and snails, see Ornamental and Turf Insect Note No. 22 at

From Dr. Steven Bambara

For more information contact your local Cooperative Extension Center and ask for the Commercial Horticulture Agent.