snails & slugs
Wed, 14 Mar 2007 10:19:46 PDT
On 14 Mar 07, at 7:30, Thomas Glavich wrote:

> I have found that going out around 9 at night with a plastic bag and
> flashlight is a great way to find and remove both slugs and snails,
> particularly if it is damp and a little foggy.  You can pick them up.
> They are not poisonous, they won't bite back. Slugs are just a little
> bit slimy, and then only on the bottom.  Just pick them up (bare
> fingers work just great!), put them in the plastic bag, and when you
> are done, tie a not and throw it in the trash.  If you do this
> regularly for a week or two, no poisons, no no chemicals, no
> grapefruit, hardly any slugs or snails.  The slime washes off easily
> with any soap.  The second night is easier than the first.  It is a
> real organic solution.

Handpicking is actually a very good way of controlling macro-pests. 
Nighttime is usually the best time because so many are active then 
that are in hiding during daylight.

Not only slugs and snails, but climbing cutworms (which can be very 
destructive to foliage) and various weevils are suitable targets.

My method is to take a plastic yogurt container, abt 750 ml capacity, 
half-fill it with water, add a few drops of dishwashing liquid, and 
drop the pests into it as I collect them. The detergent lowers the 
surface tension so the pests drown. When your collection container is 
getting full, just step into the house, flush the contents down the 
toilet, and refill the container with fresh water.

I've read or been told, somewhere, sometime, that when you start 
handpicking pests nightly, you become a major predator of them and 
given time, their numbers will decline. However, the figure "in five 
years" was quoted for slugs, so you must be very patient and 

Climbing cutworms I find to be present in fairly limited numbers, and 
the infestations are quite localized, so they are much easier to 
bring under control. A week of careful nightly picking will eliminate 
most of them. They cause a characteristic damage to foliage, so it's 
easy to spot the areas needing attention during a daytime stroll 
around your garden. I keep an eye on my erythroniums, to which 
cutworms seem be esp. partial.

Weevils (admittedly not a serious pest of bulbs) seem to be present 
in such vast numbers that all I get out of their destruction is a 
sense of malicious satisfaction. I don't bother with the soapy water 
technique, preferring to crush them with my fingers; they give a 
quite noticeable pop or snap when crushed. Color me vindictive.

Finally, slug slime control on fingers: buy a box of disposable vinyl 
gloves and wear then while slug-picking. Result, clean tootsies 

Vinyl, not rubber latex, because vinyl won't trigger development of a 
sensitivity to latex.

A final but important technique for organic control of pests is to 
not keep  your garden too tidy. I mulch heavily with leaves in the 
fall, and this seems to encourage all sorts of predators, from birds 
down. In consequence, though I live in a low, damp, soggy location, I 
have very little damage from slugs and snails.

Somewhat overgrown thickets of shrubs also encourage birds.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate

on beautiful Vancouver Island

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