January 14th, 2009 by BugGuy
Slugs and snails won’t do any damage to the house or other structures, but they can do some serious damage to gardens. That damage can be just as devastating for those who spend hours every week in the garden or depend on the garden for fruits and veggies.
Both slugs and snails belong to the mollusk family and are similar in structure except snails have the outer shell. They move around with a muscular foot that releases a slimy substance that is often described as silvery or iridescent. The mollusks are most active at night and can also be seen during or after it rains.
Slugs and snails chew holes in leaves, fruit and veggies and will target both living and decaying plants. Their damage is often confused with the damage caused by caterpillars but can be easily confirmed once the mucus trail is identified.
Like many other pests, controlling slugs and snails needs consistent attention. Here are some of the most common ways to prevent snails and slugs from destroying the garden or flower beds.
- Hand picking – This method is actually picking out the snails and slugs by hand…regular picking is needed in the beginning but may decrease to weekly after the population starts to decrease. Using gloves makes the task less gross and the mollusks can just be thrown into a plastic bag and disposed of.
- Traps – There are many options when it comes to trapping snails…using a bowl filled with beer is one of the most common. Traps also make it easy to keep tabs on how many snails and slugs have been captured from the garden.
- Baits – These are exactly what it sounds like…baits are placed where slugs and snails are commonly seen and the goal is to get the mollusks to consume the bait. If using baits, be sure to read the directions carefully and another management method may be a better option if pets are present.
- Make them dinner – Toads love snails and slugs and the amphibians are actually good for the garden. Turtles, snakes and birds will also make a meal out of snails and slugs.
One thing to note, pouring salt on slugs and snails will kill them but the added salt may not be beneficial for the garden.