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Pests/Slugs....ick!

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Question
Hi Mike,  I'm having a terrible time with slugs.  My husband and I live in an older apartment and at night, the little monsters come out of wherever they hide during the day, slime their way across our patio, and find their way through the sliding glass patio door into the living room.  I'm not the world's tidiest person but even for me this is too much.  I know that I could put out dishes of beer to deal with this, but I prefer, if possible, NOT to be a mass murderer.  Another problem - I have two bird feeders, so don't want to put anything down on/in the ground that could harm the birds.  Got any ideas?  Is it the bird feed that is attracting them?  My next door neighbors don't seem to be having the same problem.  Any advice would be gratefully appreciated.  Oh, almost forgot, I live in Saint Louis, Missouri - Slug capitol of the Midwest.

Thanks,
Del

Answer
Del, I, too, have had many heartaches over the damage slugs have done to my plants over the years.  I have tried everything including beer traps, diatomaceous earth, homemade traps, and copper.  I must admit that Iíve had moderate success with the beer, but it would evaporate each day and got expensive to maintain.

I am happy to say that I have finally discovered an effective deterrent.  It is a product sold by a company named Gardens Alive, and is called Escar-Go.  Although it is a pesticide, it is organic, and is therefore non-toxic to humans and pets.  It also stays active and solid even after a heavy rain.  Just sprinkle small amounts around each plant, and reapply every 10 days.  In case youíre interested, click on the attached website and search for Escar-Go.

http://www.gardensalive.com.

If the area is large, making this product impractical, try spraying the soil with an ammonia solution.  Mix one tbs. lemon ammonia and one tbs. of non-concentrated dishwashing liquid per gallon of water. Youíll need to apply this solution twice per week, and preferable in the early morning hours when slugs are most active.

Recent studies have also showed that slugs are deterred by coffee grounds. Many gardeners apply used coffee grounds to their soil as an organic amendment. These same studies have shown that plants with old coffee grounds sprinkled around them have 80% fewer slugs than those not treated. It also has shown that the coffee grounds kill young slugs. They suspect it is the caffeine, but they are still researching the actual cause and effect.

Finally, there have been many gardeners who, like you, prefer to deter the slugs rather than killing them. You can try copper strips along the base of where they are coming in, or diatomaceous earth, which are the crushed shells of mollusks.  Reports show that snails and slugs will not cross these barriers.  It was impractical for me in the garden, but they may work as a barrier for your home.

I hope this answered your question. Good luck, and please write again if I can ever provide assistance.

Regards,

Mike

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Mike Mascio

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I have been an avid gardener since 1985 and an AllExpert volunteer since 1998. I specialize in soil preparation, seed starting and plant propagation, flowers, vegetables, and general landscaping. I am a strong advocate of the square foot method of gardening and the use of organic controls for pests and diseases.

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