Dealing with Slugs and Snails in your Garden

No one wants their effort, time and money put into buying, planting and maintaining plants put to waste by the common garden pests that are slugs and snails.

How do I tell which is the problem?

While, at first, it may seem difficult to know whether it is slugs or snails (or both) that are feasting on your flowers, there is a way to tell the difference. If you’re discovering the holes in plants that are higher up, in hanging baskets, for example, it’s almost certain to be snails that are your problem. They’re much better than slugs at scaling walls and other obstacles. Snails are also quite particular about what they eat, preferring the softer tissue on leave, thus the random holes are a good tell-tale sign of snails. Slugs, on the other hand, tend to stick to ground-level plants and will eat almost anything that is within their reach.

How do I control them?

Barriers- Surrounding your vulnerable plants with a barrier of rough materials that would be uncomfortable for either of the pests to cross would be a good preventative measure. This barrier should be at least 5cm thick in order to be effective and there should be no gaps at all- broken egg shells are a good material to use and will not cause harm to anyone else using your garden.

Salt- This is probably one of the best known methods of preventing slugs and snails from ruining your plants. Line the edge of your plant pots with vaseline and salt- the vaseline will keep the salt in place. As the pests climb your plant, the salt will dehydrate them and kill them before they reach the plant to eat it.

Food and Drink- This sounds too simple to actually work, but it is true that if slugs and snails have the option of eating actual food they will choose it over your plants. Jars of beer are often the best for this, especially when buried underground. The pests will gorge themselves on it, often falling in and drowning.

Copper Rings- These small copper rings can emit a small electrical charge that will shock the slugs and snails if they try to pass. These rings can be ideal to place around both smaller and larger plants that you wish to protect.

Check for Caterpillars

It is worth saying that, before you implement any of these preventative measures, ensure that it is slugs and snails that are you problem and not caterpillars. This can be checked in two ways: are there slimy trails left on the leaves, is there frass (black balls of excrement left behind by caterpillars)? Normally, solitary caterpillars will cause very little damage on your plants and are best left alone. However, if there are a large number on one of your plants you should remove them by hand, where possible, or wash them off with a hose if not.

Do you have any more tips on how to deal with slugs and snails? Let us know in the comments.

[Photo Credit:Vicki's Nature]