Size: Varies by region, anywhere from 1/2″ to several inches in areas with higher rainfall.
Introduction: Slugs are gastropods, which literally means “stomach-foot” so they are essentially a stomach gliding along on a slimy foot. They have voracious appetites, especially for young, tender seedlings. They prefer a moist, shady environment and are nocturnal.
Life cycle: Slugs are hermaphrodites, meaning each one has all the “equipment” necessary to produce and lay eggs. They lay their eggs in the soil; once hatched, slugs take 3 to 6 months to mature.
Signs of their activity: Slime trails, holes in plant leaves (refer to top photo). The very best way to identify that a slug is the culprit (aside from seeing a slug, that is), is to spot their slime trails.
Typically seen on: (in the vegetable garden) Salad greens, beans, broccoli and other cabbage family crops, strawberries, tomatoes; (in the ornamental garden) slugs particularly love hosta leaves but many other plants as well. Slugs also feed on decaying vegetation.
Controls: If some areas of your garden are getting excessively moist, try to troubleshoot and resolve this, so the environment is less attractive to slugs. Organic controls include slug traps (made with beer – refer to 2nd photo), copper bands around the base of susceptible plants (refer to bottom photo), organic slug bait, diatomaceous earth, hand-picking.
Additional information: Oregon State University Snails/Slugs, University of Minnesota Slugs in Home Gardens, and University of California Integrated Pest Management Snails and Slugs. Also, Susan Mulvihill’s two blog posts: Thwarting Slugs and Dealing with Slugs.
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