TOP TOMATO PESTS - PART 6 OF 6: Slugs & Snails
Slugs or Snails (Rumina decollata & Helix aspersa)
- Identification: Slugs are best described as snails without shells with soft-bodied that are generally brownish or grayish. They vary in size from 1/4 inch to two inches or longer. While snails may look the same they can be the same size or smaller they will have a shell on their backs. Slugs and snails leave a silvery slime trail as they move. Feeding damage can be superficial to extensive that may result in plant stress or even death.
- Plan of Attack:
- Rake your garden in early spring to remove leaves, plant debris, and boards and other material to reduce favorable areas for slugs. Avoid using large wood chips as they provide hiding places for slugs. Do not place mulch any thicker than three inches because it helps to minimize a favorable environment for slugs.
- Water in the morning so plants are dry by evening. Prune lower leaves or stake large plants to reduce potential hiding places for slugs.
Trapping and handpicking helps lower slug numbers. To be effective, traps must be checked and cleaned out several times a week. You can trap slugs by setting out several flat boards, shingles, damp newspapers, containing beer or other fermenting food are popular. When checking the traps the kill any slugs that are hiding. You can drown slugs in soapy water, or crush them.
Copper strips or tape is an effective barrier to slugs and most practical for small gardens or containers.
There are many types of animals that feed on slugs, such as beetles, toads, snakes, turtles, shrews, ducks, starlings and other birds.