Slugs & Snails
These pests feed on pansy leaves and blooms at night. In a
single night, their feeding can result in large, irregular holes in leaves and
flowers. A sign of their presence is the slimy trail of mucus that they leave behind
as they move. During the day, they hide under leaf litter, mulch and flower
pots where it is moist. Snails and slugs are mollusks and thus related to clams
and oysters. Like all mollusks, they must stay moist all the time to survive.
The first step in discouraging
slugs and snails is to remove mulch and leaf litter near plants to reduce the
moist conditions necessary for their survival. Slugs and snails can be removed
by handpicking. The best time to look for them is a few hours after dark using
a flashlight. Slug and snail traps can be made by filling shallow containers
with beer and placing in a hole in the soil so that the rims are level with the
soil. These pests are attracted by the yeasty smell and will fall in and drown.
Before putting down the traps, water the area to encourage slug and snail
activity that night. Placing a board on the ground, raised about one-inch, is
another trap option. It provides a daytime hiding place for these pests that
you can then lift to locate and dispose of them.
Protect plants by sprinkling diatomaceous earth around the
plants. Diatomaceous earth is very sharp and scratches the skin of these
soft-bodied critters, resulting in dehydration and death. It must be reapplied
after a rain or watering.
Products containing metaldehyde (3 percent) bait can be used to
control snails and slugs in the home garden. However, newer products are
available that contain iron phosphate. Iron phosphate will stop feeding by the
snails and slugs quickly, and is much less harmful to pets, birds, and
non-target insects than metaldehyde. Any unconsumed iron phosphate bait adds
nutrients (iron and phosphorus) to the soil.