Tell me about your slug/snail problems and solutions

Started by Robin Hansen, August 20, 2023, 10:56:47 AM

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Robin Hansen

While I saw very few slugs and snails this early spring through mid-summer, as I'm potting up a lot right now, I'm finding baby slugs in and on the bottoms of pots which are watered regularly. An unusual situation because normally, I find a lot of adults in spring and early summer.
 My questions are about your experiences this year, perhaps as compared to last year, what species you have seen, which plants you find the most vulnerable, and what control methods you use. There are some of us a bit squeamish about disposal methods, so may I suggest only brief descriptions of methods of attack without details, if that's possible??? Remember, many of these little animals are imports so please distinguish between what you know to be native slugs and their habits, and European or other slugs and their habits.
Methods change, the chemicals we are allowed to purchase changes and our gardens change. We may stop growing some vulnerable plants and find others that work better. Please tell us about those also.
10 degrees warmer than last summer on the Oregon
 Southwest coast. Not a drop of rain since May
Robin Hansen
President, PBS

David Pilling

As they say "What did the Romans ever do for us", and in England they introduced Helix pomatia, common name the Roman snail.

It was a cold Winter 2022-2023, no idea if there is a connection but there seem slightly fewer snails. Or it could be that the seagulls are less (due to bird flu?) and this is allowing other birds to survive.

Over the very long run, there has been a move away from slugs and towards snails. Such things must go on, but there is no one to observe.

As we have discussed before here, slug pellets of metaldehyde are now banned in the UK ("you'll be committing a crime if you use any old ones in your garden after March 2022" (I can feel a clash with the neighbours coming on)). The slug pellets now for sale in the UK use iron or Ferric Phosphate as their active slug killing ingredient - and my friend says they don't work. Seem OK to me. I use them in very small amounts. I am not that serious a gardener these days.



Most snail baits do more damage to unintended victims than to snails and slugs.

Snakes and ducks especially Rouen or Kaki-Campbel] are excellent predators.  Beer traps ate effective.

A table with its legs in cookie tins 1/2 full of salt water will protect potted plants placed on it.

After making sure that a bed is slug/snail free surrounding it with a trough made of copper flashing filled with salt water or beer will protect the bed.
Where the ends of the trough meet, caulking or solder is needed.
Marc Rosenblum

Falls City, OR USA

I am in USDA zone 8b where temperatures almost never fall below 15F  -9.4C.  Rainfall 50"+  but none  June-September.  We seldom get snow; but when it comes we get 30" overnight.  soil is sandy loam with a lot of humus.  Oregon- where Dallas is NNW of Phoenix.

David Pilling

When we talk about bans on slug baits in the UK, what always comes up are do commercial users have an exemption.

If they don't work why do people whose profits depend on them carry on using them and lobby the powers that be to allow their continued use.

I used to help with people who used bait freely on their private garden, but even then there were limits, usually to just when fresh bedding plants were being put in.

If you've spent 5 years growing a plant there's a lot of incentive to protect it.

In the grand scheme there are few plant enthusiasts, even few people with lots of bedding plants.
Given them a chance.

Although presumably the powers that be know how much bait is sold to private individuals. Is it all used, probably not.

If there was any wildlife beyond snails here I would probably refrain from using any slug pellets. But here is a dot of green in a sea of concrete, so wind swept there are no trees. Grass tends to be of the plastic variety.


Some years ago on a cool, cloudy damp spring day, I planted a pot of stream orchid, Epipactis gigantea, in the lowest, wettest part of my garden. This species grows naturally in the freshwater tidal area of the Columbia River, which is 15 miles south of my home, and which has extensive freshwater marshes for many miles upriver. Mid summer flowering of both stream orchid and tall white-flowered Veratrum californicum are outstanding features of these marshes. 

I was eager to try this native orchid in my yard, hoping that it would establish. I mulched it, watered it, and went for the slug bait, just in case. When I returned, there were two pulmonates approaching the new plant to check it out. One was a brown garden snail, the other a leopard slug. In hindsight, the leopard slug was probably hunting the snail. 

I gave the orchid a good ring of slug bait and then let it decide if it wanted to live in my garden. It did persist for three years, and then either pulmonates or dry summers, or both, were too much for it and it disappeared. 

I have never been able to bring myself to do annual or semiannual full garden treatments of slug bait, because this would kill so many native slugs and snails along with the introduced species. 
South coast of Washington, zone 8, mild wet winters, cool dry summers, in sand

Ann Marie

Get a skunk, I have not seen a snail for more than 10 years, slugs only under heavy pots. The skunk does not live on my property, but he comes every night.