Gardentalk – Your best tools for this summer’s slugs

Beer trap
Beer trap improvised from a discarded plastic cup attracts a whole bunch of slugs in a North Douglas garden. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Where there’s rain, there are also slugs.

June 2020 just tied with June 1949 for 25 days of measurable rain, the most ever for the month of June in Juneau. June 2020 is also the second-wettest June ever with 7.3 inches of rain at the Juneau International Airport.

With so much moisture, Master Gardener Ed Buyarski knows that gardeners may feel that their battle with slugs is never ending. Slugs like to hide under vegetation and prefer feeding on beets, lettuce, cabbage and other leafy greens.

But Buyarski says gardeners can use several techniques to make their garden nearly slug-free.

  • Use two fingers or pair of bricks to squish them
  • Spray a solution of half ammonia and half water on the slugs
  • Set out slug and snail bait like Sluggo
  • Make beer traps that will attract slugs and drown them in a drunken stupor

Of all the methods, the squish and spray methods probably take the most effort.

Intruder Alert! – Invader spotted in a raised bed of bolting spinach in a North Douglas garden. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)

Slug bait and beer traps usually require minimal maintenance other than cleaning out dead slugs and refreshing the bait. Ideally, the traps should have some sort of cover or be placed under plants to protect them from the rain.

Beer bottles with about an inch of beer inside work great as traps with the bottle laying on it’s side. The bottle’s closed end should be slightly buried while the mouth should be level with the soil.

Other slug mitigation techniques include mini-hoop houses over plants to keep them relatively dry during constant rains.

Cleaning up old leaves and other yard debris can also eliminate much of the slugs’ hiding places and egg-laying spots.

Listener Debby also asked about another pest: “How do I get rid of fungus gnat infestation on indoor plants?”

Buyarski says the gnats feed on the organic matter in the potting soil.

He recommends keeping the surface of the potting soil as dry as possible or covering it with a half-inch layer of play sand.

Buyarski also says the biological larvicide Gnatrol will work. It should be diluted before pouring it on the soil and plants.

Slugs on radish leaves
Holes in these radish leaves are the tell-tale bite marks of slugs. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)
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