Got this info from Charlotte's garden:
Controlling slugs and snails:
Slugs and snails are mollusks of the class Gastropoda that literally means
'stomach foot'. Gastropods, form the second largest class in the animal
kingdom, insects are the largest. Most terrestrial snails and slugs belong
to the subclass Pulmonata. For the most part they are hermaphroditic. They
contain both male and female reproductive
organs, allowing them to mate with any mature animal of the same species.
Some Pulmonata have the ability to self-fertilize. Common snail pests: brown
garden snail (Helix aspersa), brown-lipped, grove or banded wood snail
(Cepaea nemoralis), bush snail (Zonitoides arboreus), white garden snail
(Theba pisana), subulina snail (Subulina octona)Common slug pests: great
gray garden slug (Limax maximus), tawny garden slug (L. flavus), milky slug
(Deroceras reticulatum), greenhouse slug (Milax gagates),
gray garden slug (Agriolimax reticulatis)Adults range from 1 /2 to 10
inches, depending on species. Slugs are gray to black or brown and
soft-bodied, often with a soft hump in the center; snails have a hard
calcium shell. Eggs are round, clear, and less than 1/4 in diameter, often
with a thick outer shell of calcium carbonate; laid in clutches of three
to 50, with some species laying as many as 500 per year. Living throughout
North America, particularly in moist, temperate climates. Snails require
calcium for their shells, so are less prevalent in areas where this mineral
content is low.
There are organic ways to manage their population and save your flowers and
vegetables without having to destroy all of them. A slug and snail's natural
role is to clean up its environment. It feasts on decayed vegetable matter,
and has been known to eat other dead snails. At the same time it forms part
of the food web, becoming prey for other animals. For those that haven't
become a meal for another animal, their bodies will decompose into the soil
when they die, returning nutrients. They become a problem when they head for
the lush vegetation destined for your salad bowl or the luscious blooms
headed for that special flower arrangement and forget about all that
decaying plant material they are supposed to clean up. In the sea, where
most snail and slug species live, they perform a similar role, cleaning up
tiny bits of matter, and in turn, becoming meals for other animals. Both
snails and slugs feast on most plants, especially young, tender transplants,
leafy vegetables and succulent plant parts.
If you have ever had the horrifying experience of setting out nice bushy
plants that you just purchased from the garden center and you walk out the
next morning to find that the plants have been eaten down to the nub. You
have a slug problem and it is time to take action. You'll never be able to
eliminate all of the snails and slugs in your
garden. The challenge is to maintain a balance.Becoming familiar with the
slugs' and snails' patterns of dinning in your garden will help you in
limiting damage to your plants. Garden snails and slugs are most plentiful
during months with nighttime temperatures above 55F with consistent
rainfall. They are most active at night. Go into your garden after dark with
a flashlight or a headlamp leaving both hands free. Look for slime trails
and irregularly holes in the leaves of your plants.
The first step is making your yard and garden less desirable for these
creatures. Keep the garden clear of debris that offer moist, dark hiding
places and be careful about over watering. Keep an eye on ground covers of
ivy and succulents, which are snail and slug, habitat. Wait to mulch until
the plants are well established or the temperatures are over 70F.
Cultivating the soil around your garden beds frequently will help destroy
snail and slug eggs before they hatch. Learn to like ground beetles, garter
snakes, moles and shrews because they all prey on slugs. Slugs really love
Campanula carpatica, Chinese cabbage, delphinium, gentian, hosta, lettuce,
lilies, mustard greens, petunias,
marigolds, primroses, strawberries, and trillium. This is the short list
they like to eat other things too.
Here are a few ways to help discourage slugs and snails from eating
Invite more birds into your yard by installing a birdbath. Planting a
variety of fruit bearing shrubs is a good way to encourage birds to stay in
your garden. They have hungry babies and slugs are a wonderful meal.The
larvae of some ground beetles and rove beetles eat slugs. You can encourage
them to set up house in your garden by providing permanent grass pathways,
stones or planks and perennial beds that provide shelter. A garden healthy
in organic matter also helps increase their number. Firefly larvae and
centipedes will also eat slug eggs.
Put up barriers to slugs travels patterns. When slugs and snails travel they
secrete a layer of slime which protects their foot and enables them to
travel over a variety of surfaces. Using some of the solutions below will
help you to keep the pests out of your garden.
Crushed eggshells. Their edges are too sharp for the slugs to pass over.Wood
ashes are caustic to slugs and snails but in limited quantities won't hurt
Human hair sticks to the slug making it difficult for them to slime around
Coarse sand sticks to the slug and is too hard for them to cross.Sawdust
sticks to the slug making it difficult for them to slime around the
garden.Garden lime, you can sprinkle a little lime around and slugs won't
pass over it. Copper strips, 10 cm/4 inches wide. Place rings around
favorite plants Slugs and snails are said to get an electric shock when
their 'foot' touches the metal and they can't cross the barriers.
Diatomaceous earth sprinkled 3 times a month, more if the rains are
frequent. Sand paper, cut a slit to the center and another little circle at
the center to accommodate the plant stem. Remains of grapefruit halves
turned upside down in the garden and left overnight. Raise your garden beds.
The surface of a raised bed dries out more quickly from a rainstorm making
it a less attractive place for slugs to hang out.Hand picking is an
excellent remedy. If the slime on the slugs bothers you use gloves. Put them
in a container with a screw top lid and toss them in the garbage. Coffee
grounds are very unpleasant to slugs.The old stand by of bear in yogurt
containers works well. Cut a
rectangular opening on two sides of the yogurt cup just below the opening.
The put the lid on and bury the container with the bottom of the slits just
above the soil line.
Varieties of plants that are not attractive to slugs;
asters (both perennial and annual)
There are others that slugs and snails don't like very well especially
plants with tough ever green leaves.
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