What Happens When Two Slugs Get Into A Fight?… They Slug It Out!!
We have finally reached the traditional garden planting season and our weather is warm with some gentle rains to enhance the seed growth and the perfect weather for transplanting. Thank You everyone who came out to see me at the greenhouse! A friend stopped by with an interesting problem. Something is visiting her garden at night and causing a fair amount of damage. Holes are appearing on the leaves of plants and sometimes the entire new seedling is gone. Several pest can cause such damage but the clue of holes in the leaves and not along the edges leads me to believe an insect pest over a animal pest. My friend sees no evidence of anything on the leaves during the day. I advised her to place wet newspaper around her garden and in the morning it should have collected some of the pest and then they can be identified and an eradication plan can be started. My suspicion is either slugs or earwigs both have been plentiful in the last two years and both do their damage at night. Slugs often leave a distinguishing slime trail and both can be trapped by placing wet newspaper down in the morning roll up the newspaper and place in a plastic bag for disposal. The use of wrappers from fast food outlets work well too, just crumple them up and place them in the garden or trouble spot. You may have to weigh them down with rocks to keep them from blowing into your neighbours yard. Traps using a smear of bacon grease and a soapy water or small containers of beer can also be employed but should be replaced every few days. Coffee grounds are also good for snail deterrence and very good for your garden soil just sprinkle it around affected plants and gently turn into the soil Snails are a good food source for frogs, toads, snakes and birds but the damage they can cause before they are dined upon can be considerable. There are slug baits that can be used but consider only ones that contain iron phosphate as this is not a danger to pets and wildlife. Watering at night can also add to the problem so consider watering in the morning allowing the leaves to dry by nightfall. Companion planting can also help as slugs tend not to like strong scented herbs or plants that have fuzzy leaves. You should also make sure there is no plant debris around that can attract slugs. If you have any wood ash handy a 3 inch band of this around the garden area or specific plants will help. Be sure to keep the wood ash off the plant itself and consider the pH of your soil as this can influence it by raising it. Also the use of cornmeal or wheat bran set in bowls can be helpful as the pests ingest it and die this can be used against cutworms another pest that seems to dine at night. Cutworms can be found just below the surface of the soil and will distinctively curl up when exposed. Identification is important to know your enemy and plan an attack that is safe and will work!
Samatha Nason, BS Ranch & Greenhouses
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