Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Slugs, oh my!

I haven't experienced slug herbivory before, a bane of rainy climate gardeners. In the Piedmont, even in normal rainfall years, I don't think I've seen any slugs, much less experienced any damage to vegetables.

But, as the Ronde de Nice (Eight-Ball) and Zucchini 'Romanesco' squash seedlings started to disappear overnight, hmm, with curiously chewed edges left on the remnants, I started to think about slugs. The slime and a culprit caught in the act confirmed my suspicions.

Hmm, they love to eat seedlings, apparently.

I AM a wildlife gardener, but it's hard to warm up to slugs, and I started searching for organic controls. Beer in dishes was one possibility (but my gardening companion didn't want to waste his craft brews, and it's apparently not all that effective); salt, diatomaceous earth, and coffee grounds are other potential treatments. But the most promising seems to be iron phosphate laced with some sort of irresistable bait (for slugs). They ingest the iron, and succumb to iron overload. I can live with that.

Sold under brand names such as Sluggo and Escar-go, I ended up buying a similar product from a local garden center.

I sprinkled the granules liberally around the squash seedlings early this evening (slugs forage in late evening and at night). We'll see.


  1. My slugs scoff at coffee grounds and pulverized eggshells. And they sure consume a lot of Slugg-o.

    I loathe slugs, probably because of bad barefoot squishing events when I was a kid in Maryland. Uuugh. Makes my skin crawl, remembering hosing slug guts out from between my toes.

  2. I get some slug damage in a shady spot in the yard. Louis Riotte suggested spreading wood ashes from the fireplace around the areas where slugs are a problem. I did that this winter on the North side of the house and I've had no problems this year. I guess I need to get busy spreading ashes this winter in my brugmansia bed. They're eating good this time of year with all the rain and humidity.

  3. We have lots of slugs in New England and they can really impact a vegetable garden negatively. We have used diomataceous earth, available at your local garden supply store, to keep the little critters out.

    We have also had very good luck with beer slug traps, so I would not write that off.

    Just thought you'd like to know.


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