Thursday, October 14, 2010

Trapping slugs with boards, tiles, rocks: here's what I've learned

If you haven't been following this experiment, let me write up a quick summary for you:

Trapping slugs is only minimally effective and is only that effective if you remember to go out every single day and check under every single trap. And you will only gather significant amounts of slugs if you place out very high numbers of traps.

Since slugs like to hide under boards, rocks, leaves, mulches, etc., I decided to try to see how effective it would be to trap them. I gathered every flat board, tile, and rock I could find and placed them under my slug infested bean plants, an area of roughly 50 square feet. I ended up with around 25 traps that covered at least a third of the infected area.

I had high hopes for this experiment. I thought that if I bombarded the area with traps, rather than place them randomly throughout the garden, I would have gained control rather quickly. Unfortunately that wasn't the case.

I kept the traps out for nearly two weeks, and I have collected and destroyed just as many slugs on the last day as I did on the first day. Initially I wanted to figure out just how long it would have taken me to gain control over the slug population in that area of the garden, but I am feeling now that the time I spend on flipping over ever single trap and destroying what is underneath is... well, not exactly a waste of time, as it obviously is mildly effective (IF you remember to go out everyday and destroy them) but I think my time would be better spent on another method of control.

While I was trying to gain control over the area, I was not oblivious to the fact that slugs were proliferating in every other area of my garden. I don't have time to trap every single slug and need to come up with a better approach.

Yesterday I had an aha moment when I was outside weeding. Weeding is one of the most effect methods of reducing slug populations since they won't have many shaded ground covers to hide under. I've got blackberries and all other manners of weeds trying to crowd out all of my vegetables. But I can't get anywhere fast with my little 3-4" hoe. I need a bigger hoe. The little hoe is still very useful for getting inbetween plants, but is going to take too darn long to hoe all my gardens with it. Also I am going to need to increase spacing of the plants, which will allow me to hoe easier.

Clearly I will need to do something about the current slug population. I will be experimenting with baits soon... how to use them most effectively. Stay tuned!



bethanial11 said...

Just found your blog today, and I don't know how big your garden is to know if this would be effective or not: could you get a 25-50 lb (or more, as it's not very expensive) bag of salt and run a continuous line around the perimeter of your garden plot? You might trap some in (then your traps would truly be effective) but you'd keep others out. I would assume it would be best to do this when rain is NOT in the forecast.... then it just might get really pricey.

(I have no clue if this would work or not, just know that the little buggers dissolve when sprinkled with salt.)

Amy said...

Yes, slugs do dissolve when you sprinkle salt on them. Unfortunately, our area is almost constantly rainy, except for 2-3 months of the summer, when the slugs aren't active. Appreciate the suggestion though!

bethanial11 said...

Good luck in finding something that works :-)