A reader on my Facebook page recently asked a question about damage he was noticing on his hosta plants. His question was:
What is the best way to kill the ants that are chomping on our hostas.
|Pest damage on hosta plant|
Great question. But, the damage to your hostas isn’t being caused by ants, it’s slugs. You probably haven’t noticed them because they feed at night. But look closely in the shade or on a cloudy day, especially after a rainfall, and you will likely find the culprit. With all the rain we’ve been getting lately, the slugs in my garden are out in full force – and they are huge!
|Eek, that’s the biggest slug I’ve ever seen in my garden|
Slugs can be a major pain in the garden. They eat holes in lots of plants, fruits and vegetables – and they especially love to eat hostas.
|Slug damage on hosta leaves|
I never had a major problem with slugs in my garden until I started growing hostas. They would occasionally chew on my lettuce leaves or other cold weather plants in the cool wet spring. But they never caused major damage.
|Slug damaged green bean|
There are several organic methods you could try to help control slugs in your garden.
Hand picking might be a slimy job, but it is one way to control slugs. You can go out in the early morning, and hand pick them off the plants. You can use cardboard to make this job a bit easier. Slugs love cardboard. Simply lay some cardboard down near affected plants and keep it moist. In the morning, turn the cardboard over and you will probably find several slugs. Pick off the slugs and drown them in soapy water, or squish them.
|Slug on bean plant|
Slugs also love beer. Place a shallow dish of beer near the plants they love the most. Sink the dish into the mulch or soil so it’s the top is level with the ground. The slugs will climb in for a drink and drown.
|Slug – slimy|
Maybe you don’t want to share your beer with the slugs, and who can blame you? Crushed eggshells can be used as an organic pesticide, and can kill slugs that slink across it. Simply sprinkle crushed eggshells around the base of the plants.
|Egg shells around base of hosta|
The sharp eggshells will cut slugs up and dry them out. You could buy a product called diatomaceous earth, which works the same way. But eggshells are free, and I like that price tag the best. Eggshells are also great for the soil, which is a double bonus.
|Eggshells to kill slugs|
Salt will also dry slugs out and kill them; but too much salt is bad for the soil, so I don’t recommend using salt to control slugs.
Slugs love cool, wet and shady gardens the best, so concentrate your damage control to these areas of your garden.
As with any garden pest, persistence is key. If you have major damage to your garden, it might take several tries to get the slugs under control. But it’s worth the effort to keep your gardens free of pesticides, and looking their best.
To learn more about controlling garden pests organically, click here.
How do you control slugs in your garden? Leave a comment below and tell me about your experiences.