Slugs are not the innocent little creatures they may appear to be and can cause major damage in a garden. Teeth-like projections on rasping tongues make slugs excellent at plant devastation.
Gastropods (belly footed creatures) are able to generate new rudimentary teeth-like projections on their tongues immediately after losing older teeth while feeding on plants. This is partly why so much damage is done so quickly.
During the day slugs and snails shelter in thick foliage. Reduce the number of daytime hiding places by keeping rough grass and weeds cut down in odd corners of the garden. At night they slide into action and devour Delphiniums, hostas, lupins, tender emerging vegetable seedlings and cabbage hearts. Since each slug or snail produces fifty offspring every season it is imperative to control the population in your garden from early spring.
Natural predators such as frogs and toads eat slugs and snails so create homes for them with piles of leaves or fallen branches. Thrushes eat snails so they can be attracted by berry bearing trees and shrubs to nest in.
Slugs and snails will not cross a rough surfaced barrier such as those made from gravel, crushed eggshells or nut shells. Spread any of these around vulnerable plants in the garden. The larger plants such as delphiniums, hostas and lupins can be protected by surrounding each plant with a ridge of sharp sand, cinders, lime or crushed oyster shells. Slugs in particular really dislike these materials.
Potatoes may fall foul of the keeled slug which lives underground. Avoid susceptible varieties like ‘Maris Piper’ and King Edward’ and dig the soil in autumn, leaving it rough over the winter. Many of the pests will be killed by the cold.
Both slugs and snails find beer irresistible, even when flat. Bury a plastic cup half filled with beer in the soil close to the plants that need protection. Make sure you don’t sink the cup to soil level as creatures that are beneficial to the garden, such as ground beetles that eat slugs may fall in.
There are many products available ready to use which are great for getting rid of slugs and snails.