What are Slugs?
Slugs are any kind of gastropod that does not have a major external shell, which makes them different from a common snail. Slugs are a part of the mollusc family, which allows them to live in moist environments, on land, or in the water. Usually, the kind of slugs that people are most familiar with are land-based slugs, which thrive in humid or wet environments that keep their skin from drying out.
Because slugs are prone to drying out, they tend to seek out places that are slightly damp and dark. When they have to venture out into sunnier environments, they can produce mucus along the outside of the skin, which often leaves streaks or trails behind the slug. This mucus trail can be used by other slugs to follow. In the wild, slugs may seek cover under rotting logs or piles of wood, while in suburban areas; they can usually be spotted alongside or in household planters, where there is a ready supply of food, moisture, and rich soil to protect them.
After they mate, slugs leave a deposit of eggs within a hole, usually near a wood source. They can lay up to 30 eggs at a time and can reproduce multiple times within a life cycle.
Most varieties of land-based slugs have two tentacle pairs on the top of their head. They use one of these tentacle pairs to determine where light is coming from and for basic eyesight, while they use the other to smell scents. Both of these tentacle pairs can fully retract into their body.
Slugs have a varied diet that can either be helpful to a homeowner or hurtful. Since slugs can eat fungus and mushrooms, they can keep certain kinds of undesirable plant life down in a garden. However, they’re also happy to feed on other organic material planted by home gardeners, such as the petals from flowers, the roots of fruits and vegetables, and other kinds of garden-variety plants.
Homeowners usually discover that they have a slug problem as they begin to notice that there are holes in their garden plants, fruits, or vegetables. Because certain insects use slugs as a breeding ground, homeowners may also notice that more flies are present in their garden than usual, as well.
When slugs begin to actively feed, they can cause huge amounts of damage, even to the healthiest of gardens. It does not take them very long to eat through large plants, so they can often cause damage to a plant faster than it can grow. As they eat into fruits and vegetables, they can leave behind holes that make the fruits and vegetables unfit to be eaten, leading to frustration for home gardeners who have spent lots of time preparing their crops.
Removal and Preventative Procedures
There are two basic ways to address a slug problem in a home garden. The first method is to use a modern bait that contains iron phosphate. Unlike other baits that were commercially available in the past, these baits are not as toxic to other wildlife that may ingest the slugs. Even though the new bait is more environmentally friendly than other forms of bait, it is equally as effective at getting rid of slugs.
Another form of slug control uses nematodes to exploit the natural proclivity of slugs to have parasites. These nematodes are available on the market and are added to the garden with water. Once they begin to grow on the slugs, they cause infection and will eventually lead to the death of the slug. For homeowners that are trying to keep their gardens completely organic, this can be an effective, affordable way to reduce or eliminate slugs from the garden.
A slug infestation can be a very serious problem for homeowners. Once slugs get into a garden, they can cause serious damage even to the most established gardens fairly quickly, so it is important for gardeners for respond with the right pest control treatment as soon as they discover the presence of slugs.