Ugh, slug problems

Slugs, while not insects or even arthropods, get lumped in with our six legged friends quite frequently. These creatures are actually slimy mollusks and they can become a garden and landscape pest, particularly when it is damp out.

Slugs are nocturnal creatures emerging from their hiding spots and feeding at night. They will consume entire leaves on young plants or just the edges of larger ones. This damage to leaves can be symptomatic but diagnosis of slugs is difficult due to their nocturnal nature. A conclusive clue can be the faint outlines of their silvery, snot trail they leave on the plant surface. It looks like a preschooler wiped their noise on your plant.

jk slug
Photo by Jim Kalisch; UNL Entomology

If you find you have a slug problem and you wish to approach control through an IPM lens, you should start by reducing attraction to the infested area. Remove hiding areas like leaf litter, stacks of wood, or straw. You can also reduce moisture by limiting irrigation or opening an area up for more sunlight to reach it.

If those are not options for you, you can try to use baits or powders to control them. The most interesting option (in my opinion) revolves around the slug’s love fermenting material. You can purchase some cheap beer for the slugs and pour some into a shallow container. Then set it in the area you are dealing with slugs and they will crawl in and drink till they drown. You can also use slug baits that contain metaldehyde such as Bug-Geta or Deadline. You must put baits out when there will be at least 24 hours of non-rainy conditions. You must be cautious with these baits as they can also harm dogs. Your final option would be to use diatomaceous earth (DE), which will coat and cut the slugs to death. DE only works when it is dry, so if you apply when the area is wet or when it rains do not expect much control. Reapply if this occurs to you.

 

 

 

Featured image: Ivy Orellana; UNL Entomology Department

Jonathan Larson
Nebraska Extension Entomology Educator at Nebraska Extension
Jonathan Larson is focused on providing Nebraskans with information regarding insects that may impact their lives. He can help to identify any insect or arachnid pest you find in your home or landscape and provide control tips that are environmentally and economically sustainable.
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