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revised July 26, 2007

Least-Toxic Control of Insects

Least toxic control of Slugs

Appearance

Garden slug on strawberry
GARDEN SLUG ON STRAWBERRY


Source: Phil Nixon, University of Illinois Extension
Slug damage on hosta
SLUG DAMAGE ON HOSTA


Source: Phil Nixon, University of Illinois Extension

Slugs aren't insects - they're a mollusc, like oysters or clams, or a snail without a shell.

The most common garden slug ranges from grey to black and is 1 1/2 to 2 inches long.

Behaviour & effects

One of the first pests to appear each spring, slugs hatch from jelly-like masses found under boards, flower pots, and other damp areas of the garden. Slugs feed at night and leave behind a slimy residue as they move. They prefer damp, cool locations and eat large holes in the leaves, fruits, and crowns of plants.

Controlling Slugs

Slugs are difficult to control, but you can get rid of their hiding places by removing garden debris such as leaves and mulch. You can also increase the spacing between plants to allow better air circulation and reduce the moisture that slugs need.

Try hand-picking at night or in early morning and use barriers such as coarse sand or copper stripping placed around plants. Placing stale beer in a shallow dish will also attract and trap some slugs.

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