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Slugs and Snaiils

 
Wenderlynn Bagnall
Posts: 73
Location: United Kingdom
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Firstly do frogs and toads eat slugs as well as snails?

What is the best way to control them organically if you don't have the option of a pond, ducks or other foul or anything else of that genre? I'm trying to encourage my friend to have a small pond in her front garden but she doesn't want one as she thinks it will be dangerous for her grandson. Most people I know use slug pellets but that's not what I do so mention to others to not use them as well.

Is salt OK to put around plants to keep them off? Copper is good too I know but if you don't have copper tools then it's not happening. I also know that loads of organic matter will help as it's the soil that needs sorting and not the slugs and snails but I'm having a hard time convincing my friend to 'wait'! oh yes and I've heard about beer traps too...Help please someone before she covers her garden in nasty slug pellets?
 
David Miller
Posts: 280
Location: Harrisonburg, VA
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I wish I had answers for you too, my gardens are under assault as well. Beer traps really do work, if you're willing to waste the beer. They're only a knee-jerk reaction though. I'm working on building habitat for snakes and amphibians while also building the soil to act as a preventative but for now, I'm screwed too. I've just been doubling down on my plantings so it won't affect my overall yield
 
Wenderlynn Bagnall
Posts: 73
Location: United Kingdom
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Thanks David. I have to say I don't think I've ever tried to beer thing at least that I remember getting success from so will give it ago again. Do you know if frogs eat snail as well as slugs?
 
Amit Enventres
Posts: 262
Location: Ohio, USA
13
fish food preservation forest garden
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Yeah, you hit all the common solutions there - I've used the beer trap, and I caught them...but it was a lot of work. Ultimately, I think I just decided to co-exist for the time being. I noted that they would perfer the week plants or old fruit to the fresh stuff - so as long as there isn't a population imbalance, we can co-exist. I even started leaving some dead stuff out specifically for them to compost last year. I some how don't think your friend will be convinced to do that. You could maybe try getting her to alter the environment and just turn over rocks where they are likely to hide. Cleaning out/removing the hiding places woudl probably be as affective a sthe beer treatment. You did mention she has access to a little kid too! I happen to know that they are excellent bug hunters and may just enjoy the project of how many snails/slugs they can find
 
M Marx
Posts: 57
Location: Los Angeles
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I have heard people describe this as a duck deficiency instead of a slug and snail problem -- maybe borrow some ducks?

I have noticed that sparrows come through the nisturtium in our garden -- they hop through it like a mini forrest since it is currently one of the climax species-- and look for all types of edibles, snails, slugs, the caterpillar of the white brocolli moth.

So maybe you can plant something to encourage predators too.

Also, I think in one of Sepp's books he talks about putting a bunch of mulch (maybe hay specifically) down overnight.
Slugs snails will go into the mulch to stay moist for the heat of the next day and they will then lay their eggs in the mulch since according to them it is a moist safe environment (they don't know it's a trap).
Take mulch, put it bottom side towards the sun, the sun will then kill all the slug eggs.

Rinse, repeat.
 
Wenderlynn Bagnall
Posts: 73
Location: United Kingdom
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Well Amit she's not a keen a gardener as she'd like to think she is. She actually said to me the other day when I was telling her not to cut certain areas in her lawn because of wild flowers, " but then it won't be like everybody else's lawn". I rest my case as far as that goes. I like the idea of her grandson helping to bug hunt but she's not very naturey if you know what i mean so probably wouldn't even think about sharing that kind of a lovely thing with him. It's a good idea though so I'll mention it to her.

Unfortunately Marx her garden is suitable for ducks. The Sepp thing I've read about too. That might be a good idea too. thanks. She wants this great garden but like most people doesn't know how to look after it or never makes time for it.

I'll definitely mention both of your ideas to her what she says or does.
 
Ray South
Posts: 54
Location: Northern Tablelands, NSW, Australia
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I have lots of slugs and have had since I moved in here 5 years ago. There were no snails then but they're here now as well. I have used copper strip stuck around a can and put this over precious seedlings (a bean I have only a few seed of for example). This works but I can't protect everything this way. I have also used the iron based pellets and although they are probably less toxic than those based on metaldehyde or whatever they aren't as innocent as the manufacturers would like them to be.
Now I'm slowly converting to using wood chip as my mulch (really wood grindings as the sizes vary from dust to large chunks). This appears to be better than straw etc as there is less habitat for the slugs. The top few centimetres of the wood mulch stays fairly dry which the slimy critters don't seem to like much. Time will tell.
 
Wenderlynn Bagnall
Posts: 73
Location: United Kingdom
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I saw her garden yesterday and the slugs had stripped most of the bedding plants. I don't recommend bedding plants for this type of reason but people in this country just love their 'tidy' fake gardens. I was cheeky though. I dug out a hole in one of her beds. Then I put a large garden plant pot in it and covered it with a black plastic bag and laid the excess dirt around it to build a sort of rockery type thing. Hopefully this will encourage frogs etc as well as give the birds and bees water.

she hasn't contacted me yet to let me know how she feels about it. I can always take it out though anyway so it doesn't really matter. The best thing about it is that it's pretty safe to have in even with her grandchild around.
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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you can use a board laying right on the straw or dirt as a slug attractor too. flip it over in the middle of the day.

cut out tops and bottoms of cans, push down around plants. fresh steel cans should have the galvanic response too, old rusty ones won't.
 
Dave Miller
Posts: 409
Location: Zone 8b: SW Washington
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Don't forget that you can be a slug predator too. I have had pretty good success by visiting my "most tasty" plants early in the morning with an old pair of scissors and cutting the slugs in half. Kind of gross at first but after about 100 slugs you won't think twice about it... I can also get the tiny slugs this way, which I think do most of the damage. But I don't kill any native slugs, our native slugs only eat fungi.
 
Wenderlynn Bagnall
Posts: 73
Location: United Kingdom
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oooo, slug cutting and tin cans.... not sure I've got the stomach to cut up slugs. They'd slip through the scissors. The can idea sounds cool. I could even paint them pretty colours and make a feature out of them.....
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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terretorial seed co. sells little sets of copper collars if you don't have access to copper foil
 
Mary James
Posts: 145
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
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Do a search on the site for slugs,, there are other threads with tons of info about slugs and snails and different methods tried to get a handle on them..

If it is a small garden then she has many options..If she wants to spread slug bait their are some which are rated organic ,,,Right now in Montana with all the rain and cooler temps,, the slugs are in full force and we are spraying, baiting and picking as well as using predators but it cannot be kept of with unless we are out 6 to 8 times a day...We have thousands of plants and large gardens ...that the smaller methods are not overly helpful.. or the cost gets ridiculous..
 
Debra Lyndley
Posts: 5
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Try growing your own Nemadodes (not for the squeamish)

I have been experimenting with growing veg in straw bales , on a sheltered but sunny rocky ridge that does not have enough depth of soil for conventional gardening. Unfortunately the organic matter content has also caused an explosion in our slug population, despite beer traps & daily slug picking, & the veg has been decimated. I am reluctant to use slug pellets. At the time, a problem with the production of commercially available nematodes to use as a biological control in the UK meant that they would not be available for at least a month, & by then the surviving veg would have been destroyed.

Then I came across an old article in The Telegraph that really seems to have the answer. Their solution? Take a jam jar & punch holes in the lid, add 10-20 live slugs, a handful of grass, & half an inch of water, then replace the lid. After a fortnight, all the slugs should be dead. Mash the whole lot up, dilute with water & spray onto the affected soil. Should give coverage for 6 weeks in much the same way that commercial nematode preparations do.

The grass gives the slugs something to eat, & a way of staying out of the water & not drowning. The water stops them dehydrating. Holes in the lid stops them suffocating. Confining them means that when they die you have access to the naturally occurring nematodes & internal parasites inside the slugs that would normally build up over time, & may also stress them allowing a bigger than normal build up inside the slugs, concentrating the nematodes & parasites that you want to harvest.

I used bigger containers (2 & 4 ltr plastic milk bottles), & 60 + slugs at a time as I had plenty available. After a fortnight the slug mixture really stinks. I mashed the lot roughly using a bucket with a stick, added more water & spread the mixture using a watering can without a rose, squashed corpses & all. Miraculously, it really seems to work & I am seeing a big improvement in my veg. Am planning to carry on picking up & confining any remaining slugs I find, & spread a fresh batch of slug mixture every 6 weeks over the spring/ summer & do a pre-treat on my seed beds next year.
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2310
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Let me add my $.02 and expand on Morgan's mention of the board trap. I use lengths of old 8" wide house siding that I salvaged. It has three half inch deep channels milled along the backside, the perfect place for a sleepy slug to decide to take a nap. Properly soaked, these boards seem to attract a good collection of slugs and sowbugs.

Other posts above mentioned using beer to entice the slugs to a trap. It's not the alcohol that the slugs are after, so hang on to your brewskis. It's the yeast they want, and sourdough starter works just as well as beer in attracting slugs. If you paint your board trap with some sourdough starter and leave it out overnight, you can harvest a bumper crop of slugs in the morning. I turn my board traps over and slide them into the chicken tractor. The morning escargot buffet is usually gone in 60 seconds!
 
Mary James
Posts: 145
Location: NW MT Zones 4/5 Rollins Mt
4
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Debra,
That one is interesting.I have grown nematodes before for my soil health.I do know the slugs can be uh hmmmmm quite aromatic when they die.And sit a bit..LOL and people think my use of dead deer is a bit over the top to keep them away..We will experiment with a small part of the garden.For us the hand picking and storage could become a serious stink factor though since we can hand pick them by the gallons out of our large garden and not make a dent in the population.Not sure where we could store that much stinkiness..LOL, We have a combination of methods going, Lately we have added in using flour around the plants as well
 
Logan Streondj
Posts: 46
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Well I think that the best solution would be to bring nature back into balance by getting the natural predators of the slugs and snails back, namely snakes via building hibernaculum. can check out my post in Sluggy Business thread if you're interested.

But seeing as how she's not much a nature lover, ferric phosphate is a metal salt used by organic gardeners to kill slugs and snails.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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We have had recurring slug problems year on year. No livestock here, and in the UK the snake population is rather limited ( few grass snakes and adders - only ever seen one or two in the area, despite plenty of habitat).

We have:

Used pellets, usually to protect specific crops. It can work to some extent, but we try to avoid them. Some reading I did previously suggested that it was actually the small slugs that do the most damage, not the huge ones you see later in the year. The recommendation was to use pellets early in the year (mid february I think) to knock back the adult population before they have a chance to lay their eggs. I've never tested this to see if it works.

I've had some success with beer traps, but this is not a viable solution on the scale of our whole garden - we'd need at least 100 of them!

Setting up slug habitats works well - we had a bunch of old boards around the raised beds. These were disintegrating as beds, but harboured massive slug populations. I've kicked most of the boards away now and use them as bait boards. Slugs hide under them and when you come to lift them up you can pick a dozen or so very easily.

When hand picking I usually go around with a large jar part filled with salt and a pair of BBQ tongs.


Ultimately I hope to get some poultry to help out. I've heard that it is possible to train chickens to eat them. Just chop them in half before throwing them in, once they have established a taste for them you won't need to chop them up.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Logan Streondj
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Michael, so you say there is habitat, you mean just rocks, or hibernacula that extend 2 meters into the ground?

But ya, one of the other options for great britain and places that don't like reptiles is Shrew's,
which are a carnivorous rodent (safe for crops), that eats slugs, snails, worms, and other things. Can make some shrew habitat, the Common shrew is endemic to great britain.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Well, I assume there is habitat as we have in previous years seen both snakes and slow worms. There are rocks around, but I'm not aware of any purpose made hibernaculum or accidental equivalents. Maybe we could look into that.

Shrews on the other hand are a genius idea... I need to get looking at how to encourage them. I know my inlaws have masses (the cat keeps killing them!), but they are in wales at the other end of the country!
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1570
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Logan - I've just been out and about the place, looking in the usual hiding places for slugs. I haven't bothered previously this year as we have had relatively little slug damage.

Well, I've pretty much figured out why we have less slug damage. I found a large toad, three slow worms and just one slug. From past experience I'd expect to find 20 or more. Also, we have had some contractors in lifting and relaying an old stone path (100+ years and protected, but it was gradually disintegrating because of poor original foundation work). The guys have apparently seen a few grass snakes around including one that sounded like it must have been an escaped anaconda from the nearby zoo - "It was THIS big"

We clearly have a snake population - would a new hibernaculum really make much difference?
 
Logan Streondj
Posts: 46
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The fact that you have a snake population is good news, that means there are snakes to attract.

You found a toad and indeed they also eat snails and slugs, can make diy toad habitats relatively easily with old pots,
for a smallish property with toads, toad habitat should suffice, to manage insect, snail and slug populations.

One of the problems I imagine with shrew habitat is that mice could just as easily use it,
though mice also eat snails and slugs, they also eat grains and such.

Considering you don't have much of a slug problem, perhaps a hibernacula would be overkill,
however if snails, slugs and mice were a serious issue, or you have a very large property,
then a hibernacula would insure a steady supply of snakes,
which can manage insects, snails, slugs and rodent populations.

Snakes come out of their hibernacula in the spring, and feast in close proximity,
so just like radio-waves there are fewer snakes the farther you are from a hibernacula, or snake-source.
Great thing about snakes is that they are fully carnivorous (safe for plants), and don't carry any transmissible diseases (unlike rodents).
 
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