A question about slugs (ugh!) for you peaceful gardeners.?

Celi asks: A question about slugs (ugh!) for you peaceful gardeners.?
I’ve only been gardening “for real” about 9-10 years. I love it, and I’ve learned so much. For one thing, I’ve learned to make peace with creatures that formerly freaked me out——worms, snakes, bugs, even—–to some extent!—–groundhogs, rabbits,
and deer. But I’ve got an on-going issue with SLUGS!

I’ve heard/read various tips for dealing with them and have tried putting out beer (which I’m convinced must just draw more of them into the area, don’t you think??), but what I wish I could understand is this: WHAT ECOLOGICAL PURPOSE DO THEY SERVE?

To the best of my knowledge and observation, even crows don’t eat them (especially those huge gray ones, big as cigars sometimes——shudder!), so what is good about slugs? It would just help me to understand what they’re good for (though I’ll still have to kill them when they’re eating my plants!).

Thanks for any comments and advice.

The answer voted best is:

Answer by blackdaisies
I wish i could find a source on this, but I did read somewhere that planting garlic or onions (even cooking onions from the market), can create a natural ‘pesticide wall’ to keep the slugs away.

You can also try crushing garlic or onion cloves around your more sensitive plants.

What do you think? Answer below!

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  1. Slugs really hate salt, so maybe you could plant some salt bushes to keep them away?

    I really hate slugs, too! Icky!

  2. beer doesn’t actually draw more of them to the area, but is a good draw to trap them. I found many years ago, and it’s fun, just fill a small spray bottle with straight clorox or other bleach, go out in the evening when they’re active, and spray them, they will dissolve when the spray hits them, talk about fast acting.
    As far as what purpose do they serve, I’ve wondered that about many things, and can’t think of one thing.

  3. Well, different species of slugs eat different things. Some eat the green leaves, it’s true, and leave a lot of damage in their wake – especially to the shade loving plants like hostas and impatiens. But others (like banana slugs) only eat the dead and decaying foliage, helping to convert it back to rich, loamy soil which your plants love!

    Not many animals will eat slugs, but earwigs and centipedes will eat small/baby ones (about the only thing earwigs are good for, in my book) and toads will sometimes eat them, too. Pretty much everything else (including me) seems to think they’re pretty gross, though.

    Salt, of course, kills them, and beer does attract them, but the theory is that they then drown in the beer and you empty the trap and refill it every day. I have also heard that installing copper tape or diatomaceous earth around the beds you are trying to protect will keep the slugs out. When they crawl across the copper tape, it reacts with their slime and gives them a mild electric shock so they turn around and go the other way. The diatomaceous earth dries them out (of course, you need to spread a wide-enough barrier of this, and you need to reapply it when it rains or your sprinklers have rinsed it away, etc.). Slug baits only work if you go out and pick off the “drugged” slugs – the commercial baits only paralyze them until the sun comes out and dries them out, and if you have rain or they are in a shady location where the bait paralysis wears off before the sun dries them out, the bait does no good.

    My personal favorite way to dispatch slugs when I find them, is to just scoop them onto a leaf or a stick and then go either a) flick them into the road – they will likely get smashed and/or dried out before they can make it back to green pastures, or b) dump them, stick and all, into a closed trash can. I don’t care what happens to them after that!

    Whatever you do, though, don’t squish them – even after they are dead! Even if it does do the slug in, their eggs are practically invisible to the naked eye and can be tracked on your shoes or gardening gloves and stay viable for a remarkably long time after the slug has bought the farm, so to speak. Then, even more slugs will hatch to take the place of the one you dispatched, and your gloves or shoes will have tracked them all around your garden!

    Hope this helps – good luck!

  4. Geena says to plant some salt bushes!!!! LOL I cannot believe the ignorance of some people.

  5. Slugs are animals left behind when the oceans receded. They are from a distant past and have survived on land.

    About the best thing to keep slugs off of plants around and still be organic is Diamtaceous Earth. That is a powdery substance mined from the earth. It is very sharp and when they crawl on it they literally kill themselves by cutting their bodies to shreds. A 50 pound bag of the stuff is nearly a lifetime supply and costs about $ 10.

    There are about 500 slugs to the square foot in an average garden.

    The best weapon against them was Diazonon but thats off the market now days due to pollution.

    Their purpose is to survive.

  6. The good news on the organic control of slugs are the nematode slug predators. They are available in England so if we keep asking maybe they will become available here.

    Ecologically slugs are just herbivores. By eating leaves, dead plant materials, fungi, and animal droppings they are as much a part of the soil life cycle as less visible invertebrates that do the same. Banana Slugs even favor mushrooms over other foods. They spread seeds and spores as they eat. Sadly they evolved for the woodlands not as co-residents in gardens but they still are important forest floor decomposers.
    If you touch one by mistake do not add water to the slime. as it is hydrophilic. Let it air dry and it rolls off like glue. The slime is their protection since it absorbs water from saliva quite well it actually discourages predators with the nasty mouth feel. So raccoons cleverly roll slugs in dirt and swallow them whole. Little slugs are eaten by shrews, moles, garter snakes and birds.
    When I go out to pick up slugs from traps I wear gloves and have been known to use chop sticks ( or two twigs) in an emergency removal from a favorite plant. A physical antipathy to the nature of a slug is just natural.

  7. Slugs are quite the icky creatures in my opinion and I remove them from my garden at every chance. I use beer traps and pet friendly baits where my dogs hang out in the yard and deadline and other baits where they can’t get to. I also hand pick (gloved hand of course) any visible ones I come across and put in a mason jar of salt water. Copper strips are a good barrier – I put them around my planters and raised beds.

    With that said, slugs are of ecological value. As mentioned, some of the 40 plus species found in the U.S. process organic matter and releasing the nutrients back into the our ecosystem to help us have that great fertile soil our plants love. Some are even scavengers and eat the dead and *gasp* animal feces. And there are many things that do eat them: birds, garter snakes, some beetles, badgers, moles, skunks, mice, raccoons, opossums, hedgehogs,frogs, toads, turtles, to name a few. Some gardeners even use ducks, chickens, and/or geese to help control slugs in their gardens. So, I hate to say – we need them! Everything in this world is a part of the intricate fabric we all are intertwined in.

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