7 Solutions for slugs munching seedlings

7 Solutions for slugs munching seedlings

Spring time – out come the slugs and snails – big time – and hungry! Small seedlings can disappear over-night. Big slugs and snails can polish off a row in a few bites.

Solutions?

Encourage predators to eat them?
We do this as much as possible in suburbia. Diverse plantings, encourage predatory insects and birds – thrushes are great for snails – we see shells on pavers where the thrush ate the soft parts out from inside the shell.

I love our resident garden helpers! I avoid hurting them and encourage them as much as possible as they are tireless workers for us too.

 

Barriers

Surround newly-planted seedlings with their own ‘mini-greenhouse’/cloche.
Plastic containers/bottles with the bottom cut out can make a great barrier so seedlings have a chance. Sometimes our garden looks like we’re making patterns with containers!

The bottles need to come off when the weather is warm or seedlings can cook. Hasn’t been much of a problem yet this year! Or when seedling grows so big it needs more space.

 

Sometimes the pests reach plague proportions – then what?

 

Night hunting with a torch and a bucket of boiling water?

We have spent many evenings wandering about garden beds looking for slugs and snails. This is effective for big ones [but we miss small ones I think]. Night hunting tends to be unattractive in wind and rain – which are OK for slugs and snails.

Worth continuing.

[PS – some people use a bucket with salt or salt water to kill slugs and snails they catch. This seems a prolonged way to die so we use quick options]

 

Pellet baits?

The blue ones are toxic to many other animals too – dogs included.

The green ones based on an iron compound are more acceptable to us so we do use ‘Quash’ around new seedlings when there are plague-proportions of slugs and snails – usually also under a bird-net so the pellets are unavailable to other life forms above the surface of the ground [kids, dogs, cats, hedgehogs, birds etc].

 

Traps?

How effective are traps for slugs?

I’ve tried beer traps before and found few were caught – maybe there weren’t many around? So I thought I’d try again this year as there are SO MANY slugs. Maybe some types of beer maybe more attractive too – I read that more yeasty brews were preferred.

So I set simple plastic dish traps [re-used yogurt container here] into the soil where I thought they hid and near seedlings I planted. The top of the trap was at ground-level.

Here is one night’s catch – yes, beer works!

20171010_160100.jpg

Hmm, we do have a lot around just now! Gee there were some big slugs!

‘Collateral damage’?

I was concerned beer traps might be attractive to other soil-living life.

This trap also caught a slater [‘pill-bug’ or ‘roly-poly’] curled up in a ball. So far, the only other types in any traps was an earwig and a few ants.

The ‘collateral damage’ so far has been small and I will continue with such traps.

Outcome

So, yes, beer traps are working to catch slugs just now.

They haven’t caught snails yet – either we have collected most or they aren’t as partial to beer as slugs. I wonder which.

 

Further experiments

It will get expensive feeding slugs beer each night. Either I learn to make home-brew [unlikely] or I trial a solution of dried yeast, sugar and water – like making bread starter. When the out-of-date beer runs out that will be the next option. The next experiment to come!

 

Citrus traps?

I read that snails like grapefruit so tried that means of trapping snails/slugs.

Apparently ours don’t. 1 tiny slug and lots of ants instead.

Also, anything hiding under the citrus halves/skins have to be collected or they happily go out munching next night.

Labor intensive for us so other methods are now preferred.

 

Copper tape

Slugs and snails avoid copper as their slime reacts with it to give them a shock.

I bought some copper tape as it sounded a great idea to deter these pests. Only thing is our garden beds can’t be separated from elsewhere easily so I couldn’t work out how to use it best.

Maybe it would work for raised beds or pots?

Another issue is when plants grow and overhang the bed and tape so there is a highway up and over the tape. I’m sure it’s a good idea for someone somewhere.

 

In summary:

We will continue to night-hunt, use barriers and also Quash where necessary.

Hope this helps you get a harvest from your seedlings!

May you and your garden flourish
cheers

Heather

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