How to identify slugs
Slugs can be described as snails without shells. They are a type of mollusk, related to clams and oysters.
- Slugs are slimy and soft bodied, without any legs.
- They are generally brownish or grayish.
- Their head contains two pairs of feelers. A larger pair above carries the eyes and a lower pair below is used for smelling.
- They can range in size from 1/4 inch to two inches or longer.
Slugs produce slime and use it to move. A dried slime trail indicates slugs are active in your garden.
Biology of slugs
Slugs are generally active at night when it is cool and damp, although they may be seen during the day in cool, shaded sites. Warm, dry conditions are less favorable to them.
- Slugs typically spend the winter as eggs in protected sites, like under plant debris, mulch, boards or in the soil.
- Eggs hatch the following spring and early summer.
- If conditions are favorable, slugs can be active throughout the summer and fall.
- Slugs have a layer of slime to protect their skin from drying up.
Slugs feed on a variety of ornamental plants that grow in part to full shade as well as fruits and vegetables. Some plants they are likely to damage include bellflower (Campanula), larkspur (Delphinium), plantain lily (Hosta), daylily (Hemerocallis), Dahlia, lungwort (Pulmonaria), strawberries, basil, beans, cabbage and lettuce.
Ground covers like spotted dead nettle (Lamium maculatum) create an inviting slug habitat by shading soil and keeping it cool and moist.
Generally, slugs do not bother plants that grow in full sun.
Damage caused by slugs
- Slugs use file-like mouthparts (called a radula) to rasp and chew plant tissue.
- Because of their mouthparts, they create irregularly shaped holes in leaves, flowers and fruit.
- Low to moderate feeding can affect the appearance of plants but usually does not impact plant health.
- Severe slug feeding can injure plants, especially seedlings.
- It can also reduce the harvest of fruits and vegetables, especially when plants are young. Older plants are more tolerant of defoliation.
Snails usually have a spiral-shaped shell which is wound around a spindle. This is the snail shell which they retract their soft bodies into when there is danger. Because of this, they are asymmetrical, and this asymmetry is mirrored inside their bodies. The snail shell is always constructed in the same way. The direction of the spiral is typical for a particular species.
Biology of land snails
Snails (Gastropoda) make up the class of animals with the most species from the phylum molluscs (Mollusca). They can live on land as well as in the water (snails and shellfish). In the following, only the biology of the land snail is described.
In land snails, oxygen intake occurs through a network of thin-walled blood vessels in the mantle cavity under the shell. Loss of water through breathing is a serious problem for snails that live on land. Protection against loss of water is provided by a particularly thick fold of skin in the mantle which closes off the mantle cavity. The stream of air which the snail breathes in passes through a small opening called the breathing pore or pneumostome. The snail can use its muscles to control the opening of the breathing pore. Breathing takes place by opening and closing the breathing pore as well as by raising and lowering the floor of the mantle cavity, which you can compare to the use of the diaphragm in vertebrates.
Many snails make use of the cool and damp conditions at night and are nocturnal. If it is too dry, they look for a suitable hiding place to wait out the dry period. Some snails crawl up plant stems and fall into a state of dormancy. They then close off the entrance to the shell with a seal made of slime, with which they also stick themselves to the surface they have chosen.
How to Get Rid of Slugs and Snails
- You can create the perfect slug and snail trap by laying boards or pieces of cardboard on the bare soil around your plantings.
- Place shallow dishes of beer around the garden to lure the slugs or snails to a drunken death.
- If necessary, get out and handpick the little rascals—a task best undertaken in the evening twilight or in the early light of dawn, before they have sought shelter from the heat of the day.
- Some gardeners claim that circling plants with powdered materials such as wood ash (which is also a good source of potassium for your plants), diatomaceous earth, coffee grounds, pine needles, coarse sand, or crushed eggshells can prevent slugs and snails.
- Alcohol kills these pests by acting as a surfactant, or wetting agent, that can penetrate an insect’s waxy coat of armor and kill on contact with the body.
- A spray of cold coffee can control small slugs, but it must completely drench them to be effective.
- To control slugs, our grandparents strewed leaves of lettuce, spinach, cabbage, or slices of raw potato in the garden. The night feeders collected beneath these materials, and the next morning they were gathered and eliminated. Frogs and toads are good consumers of slugs.
Recommended Trapall Products
Slug & Snail Trap is designed to help free plants the damage caused by slugs and snails. It will attract them 1.5-meter radius will trap up to 50 slugs and snails at a time. For best results use more than one trap deploy traps before planting out.
How it works:
1. Using a trowel, dig a hole the in the area where slugs and snails are active, approximately the same size as the bowl of the trap.
2. Insert the bowl of the trap so that the top rim is just above the surface of the soil (to prevent soil falling the trap).
3. Half fill the trap with beer. Place the lids over the top of the trap. The slugs and snails will be attracted by the beer. They will fall the trap down.
4. When the trap is full, the contents can be disposed of, the trap can be cleaned and then re-used.
The height is 11.5cm Side length of regular pentagon is 8cm.
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Almanac. (n. d.). Slugs and Snails. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://www.almanac.com/pest/slugs-and-snails
German Fact Sheet. (n. d.). Snails. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://agresearch.montana.edu/wtarc/producerinfo/entomology-insect-ecology/EasternHeathSnail/GermanFactSheet.pdf
University of Minnesota Extension. (n. d.). Slugs in home gardens. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://extension.umn.edu/yard-and-garden-insects/slugs