Slugs and snails are in just about every garden and they cause more damage than most other garden pests. You may not see them because they eat at night, but you can verify their presence by the slimy, mucous trail they leave behind.
Slugs and snails are both mollusks–part of the same phylum as clams, squids and oysters. While the rest of the family calls the sea home, snails and slugs are the only land mollusks. The reason they can live on land is because of the slimy mucous they excrete–it helps them retain moisture and protects their bodies from being harmed from whatever they slide across. Both snails and slugs have a single, muscular foot, raised tentacles with eyes and a downward-facing mouth. The only real difference between snails and slugs is the shell.
Both slugs and snails will eat plants. They are not picky and will get to the food anyway they can. They have a destructive effect on young seedlings in spring. As the year goes on, underground slugs eat root veggies, like potatoes, while their above-ground counterparts eat leafy treats, like flowers, lettuce and cabbage.
Chemical pesticides can control snails and slugs, but they are not necessary. One way to remove them is by picking them out of the garden. Go out to the garden at night, look for them with a flashlight, then pull them out and toss them in a vat of soapy water. You can also construct barriers out of plastic bottles so they are unable to approach plants. As far as companion planting, onions and rosemary are said to distract snails and slugs. A copper band around a raised garden bed can stop them from climbing in; supposedly the copper reacts with their mucous and gives them an electric shock.
One of the most popular ways to attract and remove snails and slugs is with a beer trap. Slugs and snails are lushes, and they’ll do anything to drink beer–even risk death. Place a pie plate in the garden so the rim is flush with the soil level. Fill the plate with beer and wait. During the night, slugs and snails will visit the local watering hole, and you can collect their drunken bodies for removal in the morning.
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