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Snails and Slugs in the Garden

Snails and slugs prefer moist climates, making them a common threat to gardens throughout New England. A preferred meal for a slug is a flowering plant such as a pansy. They feed differently than other insects in that they eat the leaves from middle to end, leaving half a leaf. They hide under boards and debris and are easy track by their trails of slime.

Snails have similar feeding habits and are capable of producing over 300 eggs per day which can lie dormant in the soil for up to 10 years. Both of their breeding seasons are spring and fall, therefore it is recommended to have a good prevention strategy by the time the growing season comes around.

There is a vast array of options when it comes to repelling snails and slugs. Ortho’s Bug-Geta Snail and Slug Killer is a popular choice; 1 pound covers 4,400 square feet of soil surface. Another option, Sluggo, is popular because it is non-toxic to pets and other wildlife. A good organic option would be Diatomaceous Earth, which is a natural product comprised of tiny fossilized water plants. It is a lethal dust with microscopic razor-sharp edges that cut through insects’ protective covering, drying them out and killing them. Tanglefoot around the base of trees can also keep snails and slugs from climbing them.

The number of home remedies for snails is slugs is very extensive. It is common knowledge that salt will kill them but beer traps, diluted ammonia spray, slippery spray (to keep them off the trunks of plants), salad dressing, flour and baby powder can also work. A mixture of one quart of beer, one teaspoon of powdered sugar and one teaspoon of white vinegar poured into wide jar lids will kill of hundreds of snails and slugs in short order. Spraying them directly with diluted ammonia can also kill them, as can a vinegar-based salad dressing mixed with hot sauce, hand soap, oil and water.

A mixture of Vaseline, oil, cayenne pepper and hot sauce sprayed on plants can make them too slippery for snails and slugs to climb. If you simply want to keep them away from the garden, a barrier can be created with baby powder, flour or rock dust that they will not cross. Kelp or dried seaweed can serve the same purpose, while also providing minerals to your plants. The possibilities are nearly endless, but these are some of the most common and convenient ones.