Attack of the Slugs!
No, this is not the title of a 1950s schlock-fest movie; it is indeed happening in a garden very near you. On a late night walk with the dog, I noticed a couple of slugs on my back porch. This is not a big surprise since every morning I see the tell- tell signs of the slime they have left behind. I decided to go grab a flashlight and see just what these two slugs were up to— where they were headed, how long it took for them to get there and what they would do when they got there.
Flashlight in hand, beam on high and a chair pulled up to watch the excitement, I zoned in on my two targets. To my surprise, several other slugs emerged soon thereafter. I started investigating and in short order I counted over 70 slugs out on their nightly mission. This was a full-fledged invasion of the gastropod kind. Since I consider myself a bit of weekend gardener, I knew that I must quickly engage in a counter attack to prevent the damage this many slugs could and would inflict. The only good news about finding this many slugs, like fish and amphibians, they can be an environmental indicator that there are no harmful heavy metals in the soil. This is all fine and good, but now on to battle.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) says that slugs will chew ragged holes in the leaves of plants and they like to live in dark, dank places—that’s why we see them only at night or under rocks and planters. After spending all that time and energy on my plants, there was no way that I was going to let those slugs conquer my territory. Since I have a dog and try to keep pesticides and herbicides away from areas where the dog sniffs around, I decided to opt for my grandmother’s old-fashioned natural solution of putting corn meal in a container and then letting the slugs feast to their hearts content. There are other natural slug killers such as the old beer in a lid trick, the honey and yeast solution in a lid, spraying with water and ammonia solution or just plain old hand picking. I chose the corn meal solution only because it was 12 at night and I had cornmeal readily available to me and hand picking slugs is just not for me.
All you have to do is pour the cornmeal in a container. Take it outside near the slugs and turn the container on its side so that the slugs can easily get in and eat the cornmeal. I don’t want to know the mechanism of how the cornmeal takes the slug out — all that matters to me is that it works and that it won’t hurt my dog or any small children who might come by to visit.
If you are interested in learning about slugs or any other garden pest, the Nonfiction Department has a great selection of books to choose from. Come check out what our Gardening section has to offer. Whether you want to identify your current beneficial insects as well as those pesky ones, or if you want to learn how to properly use store-bought pesticides or implement natural methods to control garden pests, we can help you locate the perfect book for your needs.
Here are a few titles to get you started:
- The organic gardener's handbook of natural pest and disease control : a complete guide to maintaining a healthy garden and yard the earth-friendly way
- Good bug, bad bug : who's who, what they do, and how to manage them organically: all you need to know about the insects in your garden
- Dead snails leave no trails : natural pest control for home and garden
- Gardener to gardener almanac & pest-control primer : a month-by-month guide and journal for planning, planting, and tending your organic garden
- Bugs, slugs & other thugs : controlling garden pests organically
- Pests of the garden and small farm : a grower's guide to using less pesticide