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slugs

 
rachael hamblin
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Are there any ways to discourage slugs that doesn't involve killing them?  Suggestions for plants that either keep them away, or that they especially like that could be planted to keep them from eating other things, would  be especially awesome. 
 
paul wheaton
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Oh wow!  Yeah!  That is a great idea! 

Now .... just what would be the plants .... 
 
                    
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Other barriers that slugs don’t like to cross are sand, seaweed, lime and salt. Don’t put too much salt around your garden as this can damage your soil and kill your plants.

Beer traps are another non-poisonous way to get control of a slug problem. For some reason slugs find beer irresistible. Take cans that have just a couple of inches of beer in the bottom of them and bury them to the lip in your garden. The slugs will fall into the beer and become trapped. You should change the beer every few days to keep the smell fresh. Another way to use beer traps is to fill shallow dishes with beer and scatter them about your garden. Empty the traps every couple of days and replace with fresh beer.


Putting sharp substances around your plants is a good way to keep them free of slugs. Slugs have soft bodies and do not like to crawl over sharp things. You can sprinkle broken eggshells or pine needles around your plants and these will provide a good mulch and fertilizer for your soil as well as keeping the slugs away.


If you put a few leaves of lettuce out in your garden bed at night you can lure the slugs away from your plants. In the morning you will find the slugs on the lettuce leaves and you can dispose of them. You can also put a wooden board in your garden and the slugs will hide under it during the day and you can turn it over and dispose of them.


Another safe method for repelling slugs is copper tape. Slugs’ bodies react with an electrical jolt when they touch copper. Put copper tape around your vulnerable plants and the slugs will not cross over it. The copper tape will last a long time and you can pull it up to use again next year.

-Christina Sostarich Getting Rid of Slugs wo poison
 
rachael hamblin
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Any ideas why slugs don't like to cross sand and seaweed?  Would it hurt the slugs or just discourage them?  Those both sound like good possibilities, especially the seaweed as it's also great for soil. 
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Reviving this for someone recently wondering how to deal with slugs in an area where he can't run ducks or chickens.

From "Goods for the Planet" newsletter, a bit of info on one way to use eggshells:

"Save your egg shells, slightly microwave them to dry them out, crush them and spread them around, and throughout your garden. Slugs won’t want to crawl over them! You can also do this for potted plants. Also, the calcium is good for your plants."

One other good slug barrier is hair. Yes, your own hair clippings!  Slugs don't like to crawl through it.

My personal favorite is a dandelion weeder tool. Can be tedious, but quite effective over time. Mainly, it's just verrry satisfying. 
 
paul wheaton
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
Reviving this for someone recently wondering how to deal with slugs in an area where he can't run ducks or chickens.



Easy!  Run pigs!  Pigs think slugs are yummy!



I think that this thread is proof of the value of a full farm eco system including slug eating critters. 

Other than that ...  the sluggo stuff works really well although it is really expensive.  And people have had great luck with copper.


 
paul wheaton
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Apparently, diatomaceous earth is excellent at keeping slugs away:  http://www.organicgardening.com/feature/0,7518,s1-2-9-1502,00.html

The thing I don't understand is:  if DE works only when dry, won't the slug slime make it wet?

Plus, won't you just end up putting it down every day since it morning dew will counter the DE?

 
Fred Morgan
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paul wheaton wrote:
Apparently, diatomaceous earth is excellent at keeping slugs away:  http://www.organicgardening.com/feature/0,7518,s1-2-9-1502,00.html

The thing I don't understand is:  if DE works only when dry, won't the slug slime make it wet?

Plus, won't you just end up putting it down every day since it morning dew will counter the DE?




I think why diatomaceous earth works is that it is like lots of little glass shards.
 
Kelda Miller
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You can always throw a party and then ask everyone to pick up a few slugs at dawn or dusk. Then you get a little collection like this and noone had to work too hard.
 
paul wheaton
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Fred Morgan wrote:
I think why diatomaceous earth works is that it is like lots of little glass shards.


Yes - which is why it works so well on the exoskeletons of insects.  But I was under the impression that DE does not harm earthworms.  So, how does it hurt slugs on not earthworms. 

Maybe this is something where we need to put some slugs in a jar with DE and some earthworms in a jar with DE.

 
Leah Sattler
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that has always perplexed me  also. the only thing I can think of is that once it is diluted in the soil where the earthworms hangout it is less of a problem and that maybe it needs to be pretty thick. rather like giving them 100 knife cuts not 1 or 2.  if the bit of moisture in the soil is enough to render it harmless then there are some applications it just wouldn't be practical for. the dew situation comes to mind. does it get back its killing power after it dries back out?
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I don't think slugs are harmed by the mechanical action of the DE.  I think it's more likely the absorbancy or perhaps the chemical action.

Like salt, DE would dry them out directly.

Finely divided silica takes up calcium and binds it, as I mentioned both in the DE thread and a few threads on concrete.  It could be that this damages slugs' nerves, in much the same way hydrofluoric acid would.

Unlike copper, which would give slugs an unpleasant sensation as it absorbed into their tissues, chemicals that strip calcium from nerves produce a subtle numbness and paralysis that is difficult to notice in time.  This would also mask the sensation of drying.

As in the case of salt, none of this bothers a person because we're larger, and have much deeper reserves to draw on in maintaining our equilibrium.
 
paul wheaton
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Matt Ferrall
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many domesticated vegetables are bred for sugar and water content wich makes them prize eating for every creature to hone in on.I have no slug problems eating undomesticated plants .They live in my debri piles and other than seedlings,they generaly do little damage.I give them plenty of kale and such to eat in that I can only eat so much.
 
                    
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I used DE last year for slugs, to no avail.
Then I messed up and left the bag in the garden, and it rained.
The next day, I opened the bag and it had, slugs in it.  The slugs were not injured by the way, and the DE was wet.  That ended my usind DE for slug control, back to egg shells.  Do slugs give live birth?  There was a big one, and maybe 5-6 little ones in the bag.



I recently read, that a cucumber slice on a saucer would run off slugs, they don't like the smell allegedly.
 
Ardilla Esch
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Ozark Lady wrote:
I used DE last year for slugs, to no avail.
Then I messed up and left the bag in the garden, and it rained.
The next day, I opened the bag and it had, slugs in it.  The slugs were not injured by the way, and the DE was wet. 


The DE that is sold as a filter media for pools and what not is useless for pests.  It is treated such that its normal sharp edges are dull.

Do you know what kind of DE you had?
 
                    
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I got it at a garden shop and it showed pests that it controlled on the outside of the bag.  And it did seem to control bugs, but after seeing the slugs in the bag, I was a bit put off.  Someone explained that wet it is inefficient and once it dried it would again help with slugs.

 
Joel Hollingsworth
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My largest deeply-mulched bed, and my compost, have both become home to salamanders. I've read they eat slugs, which makes sense. I'll second that they don't seem to go very high to eat, and so mature plants are mostly immune.
 
                    
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when I lived in Germany we had the most unbelievable slug problem year in and year out.. huge slugs,  as long as four inches and longer, and multitudes of them. sepp holzer trained his pigs by picking up a half a bucket full of slugs and mixing it with pig feed  and feeding this to them.  After that they would search out the critters, that is in fields, not gardens. .  Wanting to not kill them is a noble thought, but in practice it will open the door to a big problem, unless you keep natural predators. Their absolute favorite plants seem to be marygolds and dahlias.  But they will be eaton off in no time flat. I tried that, and picked them off those plants  en masse .  They lay loads of eggs that will turn into new slugs. letting chickens into the garden inf all, to scratchup the slug nests, helps some. we kept two ducks for slug control and that worked, until we moved where we could not keep ducks.  My husband has a way with animals and trained the ducks to come running and go slughuntig with him. we put boards out on walkways and would turm them over.  Just letting ducks run as they like can do more damage as they do good, they do not watch what they walk on. there has to be some management.
 
paul wheaton
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Ken Peavey
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Well mulched beds are an excellent environment for slugs.  Remove the mulch, the slugs may seek greener pastures.  The trade off is the need for weeding.

wood ash spread around the perimeter will discourage slug entry.  It does nothing for the slugs already in the area of attention.

Drive them out by removing the mulch.  Keep them out with ash.  After that, population control is required.
 
                                    
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If you don't mind possums; they love slugs !
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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I recently read that coffee grounds contain enough caffeine to deter slugs, but not nearly enough to kill them.

It might be enough to nudge them toward the marigolds and away from whatever else you've planted nearby.
 
paul wheaton
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I have tried on about four previous occassions to get video of ducks or geese eating slugs, but the video always turned out iffy: you couldn't quite see it. Or the ducks/geese go squeemish - so they were so far away you couldn't see them eat the slugs in the video.

I kept trying and eventually ended up with this excellent video footage.

First we hear from Jen Davis, of Portland, Oregon. This is just a tiny bit that she had to say about controlling slugs. She expresses that she doesn't like to kill slugs without purpose. Having the ducks eat the slugs makes her much more comfortable. She talks about how her chickens weren't all that interested in eating slugs. With her current ducks, they eat so many slugs, that she now breeds slugs to feed to her ducks!

Samantha from Woodinville, Washington feeds HUGE slugs to her ducks. We get really good video of the ducks eating the slugs out of her hand.



 
Jocelyn Campbell
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With apologies to the OP who requested barrier ideas for slugs, here is another question about slugs. Currently, I am patrolling my container garden with pruners, and taking out offending slugs and snails that way. I'm leaving the parts in the container since I'm thinking it would likely be good fertilizer. Any one know if this is the case?

Someone asked about baby slugs. Slugs start as eggs, which I think Rick Valley said are a favorite food of ground beetles. When I see slug eggs, I destroy them. Here's a pic from ca.wikipedia.org:



Here's hoping the guts I'm leaving aren't full of eggs...
 
Alex Ames
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Jocelyn a "you are what you eat" concept is in order for these dearly departed. They tend to find
the good stuff and eat it. So they should be nice to add back into the soil. Right now they are hollowing
out my strawberries from the bottom. Beautiful from the top and pick it up and it is half gone.
 
Michael Brant
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Here are a few products offered by Lee Valley. I use the copper blocker and it works great and is easily reusable.

Lee Valley also offers a copper tape that I haven't tried but looks effective. I'd probably use this on pots or other containers that this tape would easily adhere to.
 
Saybian Morgan
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All this slug talk is depressing as I read through all your comments all i see is my list of failures, I have 1000's of slugs the ducks just arn't enough in a high herbage garden. It's not that they eat all the veggies it's that they stomp them out getting to slugs. I personaly cut 700 in half and that's on top of picking 80 slugs at a time to feed the ducks. I thought I had found the solution of solutions I added to copper wires to a 6v flashlight battery the block kind figuring aha! no more cutting just walk through a quick zap and voila. I thought it was working id touch them they'd curl up and who didn't fall right off the plant hightailed it back into the ground. I mean they moved faster than I'd ever seen before. They start putting out huge amounts of white foamy slime but I wasn't convinced so I put a few in a bucket and shocked em. They did the deal turned white and I sat and waited for the death throws to take em, but instead they slithered out of the white blob like they shed a layer of skin and started heading out the bucket like nothing had happened. I've found when my electric fence goes nut's and is arching at the main box it's usually a slug that has traveled down the cord and connected between the positive and the metal box causing it to arch terribly until i wipe it dry dry dry.

I don't want to wonder around the garden with a car battery on my hip and deadly prongs in the rain but has anyone seen how much energy plants can take before they get hurt, i know i've seen a sunflower get cut in half by leaning on the electric fence, maybe i could train the slugs to the tune of my kale is electric so piss off. I've got way to much mulch to ever think of peeling it off the rain would compact my soil in days. I let the ducks work the soil all winter till last frost but there just not out on mass till now and I never see them in un planted beds till 20 minutes after transplant. Everything you can put on the surface washes away, I can't even see where i put my coffee grounds "maybe the worms took them" I don't anyone with enough eggshells to do a quarter acre and a pig's even harder on young vegetation than the ducks. I did transplant salamanders into my worst beds about 2 big brown ones per 50x4 foot bed but a salamander can probably only handle 1 or 2 slugs per day and that's fine dining. I need a carnivore that isn't big breasted and clumsy, I can't find blue tongue skinks anywhere and if I do find them there 300 bux at some exotic pet breeder. Why isn't Australia closer! Do we have any temperate reptile equivalents with a stomach for the job? ducks ate all my frogs and they do terrible things to salamanders. I wonder if I could wire into the electric fence somehow to up my bang without having to carry a device Slugs are unshakable, I pick so many the slime burns my fingers.

On a side note I have a fish tank I've been putting extra slugs into along with the dog's poop, I was hoping to save them up for the dry times in summer when the ducks are scant on protein. I've noticed now that I'm over 100 slugs in there slugs are starting to head toward the tank, they definetly have some sort of magnetic sense I wonder if theres a way to screw with it so they can't see plants.
 
Andrew Kay
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Saybian- i have a similarly extreme slug problem. Ive tried every non-carnivore solution out there and nothing worked for more than one night due to our rain. beeer traps worked best.
The purpose of my reply is to solve your slug tazer design problem ... a disposable camera. Your torch battery pro ides lots of current at low voltage, as does a car battery. A camera flash uses the opposite.
take a disposable camera , discharge the flash, and take off the wrapping to expose the black plastic unit. There will be couple AA batteries in it, replace with rechargable when they run flat. Cut out the flash bulb and attach 2 wires to the points where it connected. these are the probes that will zap your slugs.
to use, press the charge flash button. when the green light comes on its ready to fire. press probes against slug, press button and brace yourself for the blue flash.

this device is a small tazer and should be treated as such. i have zapped myself a few times and it is extremely unpleasant. this will wel and truly kill any slug. it would probably kill a mouse.
 
Saybian Morgan
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oh man a camera flash, I could probably do one better and bust up one of my old photo flashes for a light show Zapper, it even has a power dial for big and small slugs. Hey wait a second I have two stun guns in a box somewhere, I wouldn't even need to make a probe just put them in between the arc. Is that too much power? they run on rechargeable 9 volts and my wife would probably feel safer than with a camera contraption. I've taken a stun gun to the chest before I started shocking friends back in high school, what a great way to recycle. is that too much power? I don't want to kill my plants, scissors seem to cut allot of plants up when I was reaching deep. plus I don't want to torture things but a quick flash is a nice way to head on to the next life
 
Andrew Kay
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I dont know if a real zapper would be too much power, causing harm to plants. Easy enough to test on a "non essential" plant I guess.
 
              
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i hear gum balls from 'sweet gum trees' work wonders.
If i find some slugs, will trap them in a circle of gum balls and see how it works.
 
Saybian Morgan
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Oh man it WORKS IT WORKS FINALY something that works! they instantly go white, they stay absolutely in position so other slugs know something is wrong. I waited 15 minutes and went back and every one was where i left it. What's more it specificaly arc's to the slug not the opposite prong, even in dense peas and carrot tops it's like it searches for them. That's always where id cut more plant than slug, I finaly have a system i can count on and it's no struggle at all to walk the yard with a flashlight. I've picked 1000s of slugs by hand, now i've got a system, the big black ones go in the bucket for the ducks and the brown and beige ones i can never pick up go to the next life in an instant. I'm so happy thank you so much for explaining the issues of voltage to me I've had that stun gun sitting in a box for over 10 years right beside my bed and I never thought of it after all these other experiments. What's wild is when i put a metal wire on a 9 volt battery it does nothing to them but when i put the same battery into the gun it's lights out.

These stun guns cost 20 bux and there a total farse when it comes to hurting ppl, no wonder as a teen i could take it to the chest, but there Perfect for slugs!
 
Andrew Kay
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Haha brilliant! I'm pretty sure such devices are illegal here in Australia, so I'll have to stick to DIY solutions The theory's the same -- a DC charge pump converts the battery's charge from high current/low voltaage to high voltage/low current and stores it for fast discharge (eg: a capacitor).

...not very Permaculture, I guess
 
Saybian Morgan
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I'd trade my stun gun for a blue tongue lizard any day. I don't even know if having my stun gun is legal, but i'd like to see them take it from me with slug juice all over it.
 
Pete Appleton
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Frogs and toads love to eat slugs and snails! So encourage them with a pond or two, maybe even just a small body of water to have a dip in. I always find toads in piles of grass clippings, so maybe a pile nearby will give them a nice place to chill out when they are all full up on slugs! It's also important for them to have somewhere warm to hibernate in winter, so piles of grass or compost are ideal.

Ground beetles are good slug predators, they will eat the eggs and baby slugs. Piles decaying wood make ideal habitat.

Hedgehogs like slugs. Hedges and piles of scrub are good for them to hide in.

I think that the thing with chemical free solutions is that we have to accept some degree of loss. That's just natures way. But by establishing healthy predator-prey relationships, we can keep those losses quite low. A few nibbles on the lettuce can't hurt!
 
Mary James
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Just going to giggle at this one,,,Just giggle ,,if it was just a few nibbles of lettuce we were looking at here I would be one happy lady,,, LOL
 
Alex Ames
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Dr Temp wrote:i hear gum balls from 'sweet gum trees' work wonders.
If i find some slugs, will trap them in a circle of gum balls and see how it works.


I am hedging them out by circling the seedlings due to your mention of sweet gum balls.
This could be an answer for me! If I was growing huge numbers of plants it wouldn't but
in the small number of annual seedlings I put out I think it is very fiendish if nothing else.
I believe if I was a slug I would go elsewhere!

If there is anything I have in equal abundance as slugs it is sweet gum balls. The photo shows
slug damage on the marigold but that was prior to today's installation of the "slug solution".
IMG_1634.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_1634.JPG]
 
Mary James
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http://www.permies.com/t/4268/organic-sustainable-practices/Organic-Slug-Control

This is another slug based thread for others who may be searching for info as well,,LOL or at least for others who can sympathize with the challenges of slugs and their slimy by products,,,Just the other day we had several hanging from the roof like spiders on a web,, yuck,,,will not even go into having them in the gardens right now since they are at the beginning of doing their damage and we are hoping to try out new concepts to keep produce from being ruined by them,,It is kind of hard to donate slug damaged foods to the food banks..,,,

Mary


 
Pete Appleton
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Mary James wrote:Just going to giggle at this one,,,Just giggle ,,if it was just a few nibbles of lettuce we were looking at here I would be one happy lady,,, LOL


Yeah, I'm not quite sure what dream world I was in when I wrote that. They have decimated all of my seedlings I think I will be lucky to get a few nibbles of anything at this rate!
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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