Preempting the slug fest

Hostas in fallLooking like a small sea of green waves caught mid-curl, my hostas have brought a soothing kind of coolness to the garden all summer long. But, now that we’re edging closer to November, that coolness has turned stone cold ugly. In another week or two, they’ll be flat on the ground and rapidly turning into slime. That’s if the slugs don’t finish them off first.

The trick with these critters is that it’s not big, juicy Mr. Slug you have to worry about.

It’s Slug Jr.

Turns out juvenile slugs are the most damaging. They’re the most aggressive eaters of your lovely ornamentals (hostas being a favourite in my garden, it seems). And they’re happy to munch away above and below ground. You often see a lot of slug damage in the fall because slugs like moist, cooler climes best. So right now they’re in slug heaven. But, as if that weren’t enough, there are actually two waves of young sluggettes to contend with each year. Slug Seniors can lay eggs in the spring and the fall. In addition, the happy slug parents and their eggs can overwinter so that the darling little hatchlings can wake up next spring just in time to attack your newly sprouting plants.

I don’t have a huge slug problem–yet. But for those losing their slugfest, I’ve heard Safer’s Slug & Snail Killer is a good choice because it doesn’t harm much more than the slugs themselves and it’s said to be safe to use even in areas where you’re growing veggies. Sprinkle the product around your hostas when they’re sticking about an inch out of the ground next spring (for the most efficient targeting) and then gently push it into the ground a little bit so the new slugs won’t need to travel far to find it.

For now, I’ll be pulling up every last hosta leaf as soon as it’s headed south. I figure there’s no harm in pulling up the welcome mat when The Slugs come to call.

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