Gardentalk – Great Alaska Slug Hunt: Fight back against invading mollusks

By August 22, 2018 Gardentalk, Juneau
No, thanks. I'll pass.

An invading slug checks out the beer trap, but then moves on without falling for it. The beer may have been diluted or washed out by recent heavy rains. After posing for this photo, the slug was exterminated when it was picked up by a human and dropped into the refreshed beer trap. It didn’t feel any pain. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Southeast Alaska’s August rains always seem to signal a spike in the resident slug population, which usually leaves its mark by devastating and devouring the leaves of garden vegetables.

Master Gardener Ed Buyarski, in his annual slug extermination edition of Gardentalk, reminds gardeners that the best measure to prevent a slug onslaught is simply cleaning up the yard and garden.

Remove any dead or dying vegetation and clean up debris, which provides great hiding places for the slugs.

For those slugs that still hanging around and feasting on your leafy greens, various types of slug bait are usually available at hardware or gardening supply retailers.

Depending on the compound’s main ingredients, they may be slow-acting or be very toxic to pets and wildlife.

A diluted ammonia solution will kill slugs while providing an extra fertilizer for plants.

Salt or salt water usually is an effective deterrent.

Beer traps also work well.

Pick up a few cans of mass-produced swill (no craft beer or homebrew unless it’s gone skunky) and pour it into cups set into the garden soil.

The lip of the cup should be even with the soil so that slugs — attracted by the beer — will fall into the cup and die a happy death.

Bottles with a little beer remaining and placed on their side in the garden will also attract and trap slugs.

Protect the traps from any rain that may dilute the beer.

Buyarski actually prefers more practical and immediate methods of exterminating slugs, like squishing them between a pair of bricks.

Listen to the Aug. 9 Gardentalk segment about sacrificing slugs to the gardening gods:

Eew! - A pair of slugs attack a squash blossom during a break in the summer rains. The devastated flower was removed and both slugs died a horrible, horrible death moments after this picture was taken.

Eww! – A pair of slugs attack a squash blossom during a break in the summer rains. The devastated flower was removed and both slugs died a horrible, horrible death moments after this picture was taken. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

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