Thursday, June 4th, 2009...12:00 am

Snail and Slug Problems

Slug: Translucence by LongInt57

Slug: Translucence by LongInt57

TheGardenLady received this question from Jeanne.

I am living in Japan and have several plants on my porch that have what looks like snail or slug meanderings on the leaves. The plants are dying. I do not know how to treat them. I have only seen ants in the vicinity, no other bugs.  Any ideas?

Slug by Sally XIII

Slug by Sally XIII

Snails and slugs are found around the world. I would imagine that in Japan, especially parts of Japan that are high in humidity, snails and slugs would be a fairly common problem.

Japanese Garden slug by Shootages

Japanese Garden slug by Shootages

To tell if you have snail and slug problems, that slime on the leaves of plants or on the soil or in areas where the slugs would be crawling- for example, on your porch is the evidence.

The leaves on your plants could have irregular holes in them. Slugs can strip a young plant bare or even eat it down to the ground.

If you do have slugs you will see them crawling on your plant leaves in the evening after dark. Go out with a flashlight after 10pm or any time before dawn. This is the time when slugs feed. Using a flashlight look under the leaves of the plants to see if you can find the slugs. It is recommended that one wears gloves to do this. Pick the slugs off by hand and drop them into a jar with (stale) beer where they will drown. Some sources says that chopsticks work well for picking off the slugs.

A combination of 2/3 cup of water and 1/3 cup of household ammonia is another safe and natural way to get rid of garden slugs. Ammonia is safe to spray on the soil, but may not be safe to use on all garden plants. To be certain it will not kill your plants, spray a small inconspicuous area, and wait three days to see if the plant was adversely affected. If the plant was not affected, give that particular type of plant a complete misting of ammonia and water. It is the easiest way to reach slugs beneath leaves and in the nooks and crannies of plants.

Clean up debris and weeds around any plants because that is where the slugs hide in the fall. Cut off any branches of plants that touch the floor or ground so that slugs can’t crawl up the plant easily. In the spring cultivate the soil around the plant if you can to destroy the eggs. Consider placing copper flashing, copper tape, or copper mesh around the perimeter of the individual plants.

There are many excellent sites for getting rid of slugs.   See here and here.
There are many slug baits sold. Iron phosphate is one effective snail/slug control and the snail baits containing it does not contain ingredients that could harm kids, pets, wildlife, or beneficial insects.  TheGardenLady would imagine that you could find products for getting rid of snails in the Japanese nursery or hardware stores near you.  See here.

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