In the garden: A wide range of tender-leaved plants and vegetables
On Crops: A wide range of tender-leaved plants and vegetables
Throughout UK and Europe
Slugs are one of the most easily recognised plant pests and commonly found in gardens. Although there are over 30 species only a few are recognised as being plant pests. Slugs are soft-bodied terrestrial molluscs that usually feed nocturnally. They are basically snails that no longer have a protective shell, so they produce mucus on their upper surface to protect them from drying out. A thicker form of mucus is produced underneath a slug which allows it to glide across surfaces on its muscular foot. Slugs vary in length depending on species, from around 5-15cm. Although most slug species are hermaphrodites they still mate. Eggs, which are yellowy white in colour, are laid in clusters under stones and logs.
Seedlings can be totally devoured by slugs whilst larger plants will suffer leaf feeding damage in the form of irregular holes. Some species of slugs live underground and feed on roots and tubers.
Plants that are known to be susceptible to slug damage could be protected by surrounding the plants with one or more of the many different physical barriers that are commercially available from garden product retailers. However, collecting and removing slugs by hand whenever they are found is an effective way to reduce populations from building up to unmanageable levels. Predators such as thrushes, hedgehogs, toads and ground beetles should be encouraged into gardens where slugs can be problematic.
If slug numbers have to be reduced and hand collecting is not possible, then as a last resort organic molluscicidal pellets containing Iron phosphate (Ferric phosphate) are available from garden product retailers. Slugs that live under the soil can also be controlled using parasitic nematodes.
Water flower beds at dusk and then go out after dark using a torch to collect slugs.