A slug is considered a garden pest and a curiosity to many. This article will give basic slug information and description, the life cycle of slugs, different methods of slug control in gardens and around homes. Slugs are more than just a snail without a shell, as will be explained in this article. Find basic information, biology and reproduction of slugs and control in gardens. Slug control measures include structural, non chemical and chemical means.
Slugs: Phylum: Mollusca Class: Gastropoda
Basic Differences Between Slugs and Snails
A slug is often described as "a snail without a shell," although slugs do have a hidden shell that is located under the mantle of its body. While snails can live in live in more exposed or slightly harsher environment with the help of their body armor, slugs do not have the advantage of the protective, visible shell. Slugs have an advantage in that they can live in soils that are not rich in calcium, a material that aids in the formation of a snail's shell. The down side of life without a shell is that the slug has to risk its naked body to the danger of drying out. To avoid this problem it spends more time underground, which can mean more problems for the garden with root crops, buried seeds and seedlings being destroyed by the pest.
Life Cycle of Slugs and Their Habits
Slugs prefer moist environments, they feed at night and hide during the day to avoid predators and
to protect themselves from the sun. They hide in soil crevices, holes, under
leaves, boards and debris. After maturity (which can take 1 to 2 years) slugs
have both male and female organs. Cross-fertilization is the most common method of
reproduction but if extreme conditions exist, slugs can fertilize themselves for
Slug Control Slug Control Products
Slugs favor wet, cool environments. Keeping an area free of plant debris boards, stones and using bait like
Sluggo is an efficient form of defense. Most slugs return to the same “nesting” site each evening unless the
conditions become less favorable. This knowledge can be used in eliminating a slug problem and as a trapping tool.
Pouring salt on slugs is not exactly the best control measure; salt should not
be added to soil where plants are cultivated. If you have time to pour
salt on each and every slug, you also have time to simply hand pick each slug
you see and dispose of it properly.
Many people find that cultural practices alone cannot stop slug damage to their flowers or edible plant crops. When extra help is needed there are options for controlling this garden pest, including homemade and store bought solutions. It has long been known that slugs and snails (of the varieties that infest our gardens and landscapes) will drown in containers of liquid in which they can enter but cannot escape. Room temperature beer is a favorite product for homemade slug and snail traps. Beer not only serves as the liquid in which the pests drown but also serves as an attractant. Simply, this means that slugs cannot resist the smell of beer so they crawl into your trap and drown. Setting out containers (jar lids, clay saucers, etc.) can be time consuming and sometimes creates an eyesore for a garden. An open container of beer must be set in a manner that makes it easy for slugs to access but difficult or impossible for them to escape, therefore they drown. Shallow containers of beer work well but must be refilled every evening. [Slugs and snails are nocturnal; traps and baits set out in the cool of the evening work best and can work throughout the night but must be refilled the following day.]
Pest Control Products for Slugs
Not only do open containers need constant refilling, they are an open
invitation for your pets or other small animals to consume alcohol. A
device that many people use for slug control is the Scent-Ry bait/ repellent
station. [This station was designed to hold Fox Urine Powder or Coyote
Urine powder and used to repel small animals out of gardens. Predator
smells can often scare away damaging wildlife.]
Traditional slug baits contain an active ingredient that is highly toxic to mammals. An example of this type of bait is Deadline Liquid Slug and Snail Bait. A new slug bait is now available that kills slugs and snails but is not hazardous for animals. Sluggo Slug and Snail Bait does not contain toxic chemicals and can be used safely in gardens, flower beds, flower pots and can also be placed in a Scent-Ry as a means of prolonging the life of the bait.
and Snail Bait - Pet and wildlife safe, yet very effective against slugs and
snails. Can be used alone or in a protective station.
Gardeners have had great success by first broadcasting Sluggo in flower beds and
gardens and then placing Sluggo in a couple of Scent-Ry
stations. Broadcasting the bait gives better coverage; bait placed in
Scent-Ry stations are protected from the elements.
Deadline Liquid Bait - This is a traditional bait that can be applied in small spots where slugs or snails are active. Keep out of reach of children pets and wildlife! If you need to control slugs or snails but have concerns about safety, use Sluggo.
Scent-Ry - Stations that can be used to hold baits for slugs, snails, ants, roaches or can be used to hold Coyote Urine Powder or Fox Urine Powder predator smell products. This handy device can be placed on surfaces, held in place with ground stake (supplied with stations) or suspended in trees, shrubs and even in attics.
Our thanks to Christina Powell Helmig for her research and information that made this slug information and slug control page possible!