Sunday, September 23, 2007

Rid Your Garden Of Slugs

Slugs are major pests of horticultural plants throughout theworld. They are destructive pests of home gardens,landscapes, nurseries, greenhouses, and field crops.

Slugs also pose a health threat to humans, pets and wildlifeby serving as intermediate hosts for parasites such aslungworm.

Slugs are inactive in cold weather and hibernate in thesoil.

Heavy mulching and watering, required for productive andbeautiful gardens createfavorable conditions for slugs.

Slugs destroy plants by killing seeds or seedlings, bydestroying stems or growing points, or by reducing the leafarea. Slug feeding may also initiate mold growth orrotting.

Slugs feed on a variety of living plants chewing holes inleaves, flowers, fruit and young bark. They are alsoserious pests of ripening fruits, such as strawberries andtomatoes, that are close to the ground. However, they willalso feed on foliage and fruit of some trees favoringcitrus. Some plants that are seriously damaged includeartichokes, asparagus, basil, beans, cabbage, dahlia,delphinium, hosta, lettuce, marigolds, and many more plantstoo numerous to list here. To determine if damage is causedby a slug or other insect, look for a clear, silvery mucoustrail.

Under ideal conditions, chemical baits, containingmetaldehyde, can be somewhat effective because this aldehydeparalyzes the slugs and they eventually die fromdehydration. However, under cool and wet conditions whenslugs are most active and troublesome, they can oftenrecover. And these chemicals are poisonous to cats, dogs,birds and curious children.

Biological control provides an attractive alternative totraditional control practices. Nematodes possessexceptional potential as biocontrol agents for pest slugs.

In Europe, a product as been successfully developed fromPhasmarhabditis hermaphrodita, that is effective against awide variety of pest slug and snail species and it targetsonly slugs and snails.

It would be a perfect solution for introduction into the USbut there are no published records of P. hermaphroditaoccurrence in the US. Thus, regulatory issues prohibit it'sintroduction and marketing in the US.

Slugs do play a positive role in the environment. Becauseslugs are also scavengers eating decaying vegetation, animalfeces, and carrion they help in breaking down decomposingmaterials thus helping to release nutrients back into thesoil.

Slugs are night feeders so night traps and beer traps arethe best ways to catch and trap them. But there are manyother methods proven successful. One includes a verycommon, but not well known, ingredient.

For more information:

Author :Marilyn Pokorney
Source : Isnare

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