Slug and Snail Damage to Plants

June 9, 2015

Slug and Snail Damage to PlantsSlug and snail damage to plants can be severe enough for many gardeners to label them as the worst pests to infiltrate a yard or garden. Compounding the problem is that slugs and snails can create damage around-the-clock. Pest control is especially important during the spring and summer seasons, to prevent new generations of these damaging creatures.

Types of Snail and Slug Damage

Unfortunately, snail damage can be extensive, due to the large variety of plants they target. In particular, new and growing plants have the greatest risk for damage. Unfortunately, the damage they cause mimics that of other insects, especially the holes they eat in leaves. This can make it particularly challenging for the amateur gardener to diagnose. One way to differentiate and pinpoint snail damage to plants is to look for a mucus trail.

Controlling the Damage

Controlling the damage caused by snails and slugs consists of multiple methods. For preventive purposes, you can limit your yard and garden to plants that are less attractive or more resistant to snails and slugs. As a general rule, these pests tend to avoid tough plants with rigid leaves, as they are harder to eat. Snails and slugs like to take shelter in common garden clutter such as stones and boards. Removing these will make your yard less appealing to them. Finally, though inconvenient and tedious, removing slugs and snails individually by hand is fairly effective, but it must be done regularly.

Using Bait

The placement of bait, should you choose to use it, is vital to its effectiveness. Bait should always be placed near the problem areas and sufficiently covered to avoid disruption from other animals or pests. Metaldehyde is the most common and can be effective in warmer weather and a dry climate. It is important to make sure the bait does not interfere with plants’ nutritional sources, however, as this could cause unintentional secondary damage to the plant. Like many compounds, bait methods of control can quickly become ineffective, as the pests build up a natural tolerance. Rotating bait products is often suggested to reduce the development of resistance. Unfortunately, many pest control products available over the counter are inadequate to control an infestation.

Due to the prominence of slugs and snails in northern Utah, it is important to implement various methods of control. While many steps can be taken on your own, sometimes the resistance and persistence of pests are too strong for the do-it-yourselfer. If you are struggling with pest problems in the Salt Lake City area, contact All Green Pest Control & Lawn Care for professional help in controlling weeds and pests, particularly slug and snail damage.