For many gardeners in Utah, slugs and snails wreak havoc on tender new plants—sometimes even overnight. They survive the winter as eggs in protected soil and thrive in cool and damp locations such as thick ground covers (like vinca, hosta, and ivy) and yard debris. You know you have a slug problem when tender plant tissues are eaten from your newly planted flowers and vegetables almost as quickly as you plant them. These pests love cool dark places during daylight hours and cause their trouble overnight.
Removing debris and destroying the cool, damp, and dark places where they thrive is the first place to attack. If you patrol late in the evening or early morning you will find them eating or traveling between their places of refuge and the meals that your garden provides. Physically removing them is a great place to start. Collect, bag, and dispose of them (don’t just smash them, eggs can remain with the carcass to re-infest your garden later).
Baits that contain methaldehyde, carbaryl, measurol, or iron phosphate are effective, but dogs and other pets are attracted to most baits, so be careful. Iron phosphate is the most pet-safe alternative. Apply baits in a perimeter defense, rather than throughout the whole bed. Salt could be an effective control, but it isn’t good for the plants, so is not recommended. “Tenting” the baited areas with cardboard may help protect non-targeted animals. Keep up the attack through the fall to prevent eggs from being laid for a new crop of these pests next year.
Remember to always follow the current label instructions on any pesticide you may use as label changes do occur and the label will always have the most current application instructions.
Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and remember that you’re always welcome to stop by any Western Garden Center to speak with one of our professional gardeners—we’ll happily answer any gardening question you may have.
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