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How to slow slugs in your garden

Published: Aug. 29, 2021 at 8:41 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - In Alaska, it might not be possible to eliminate the slugs from the garden, but one can manage them.

“Because this is a wet climate, there’s a really large slug population in the forest,” said Joey Slowik, integrated pest management technician at the Matanuska Experimental Farm. “There can be just an incredible ... a lot more than you would think would be there. I have a small raised bed maybe two-by-three with some potatoes in it and I pulled over 150 slugs out of there.”

To keep slugs out of high-value crops, Slowik said putting copper bands around the planter can help.

“They don’t like the copper ions,” he said. “It interacts with them — they don’t like that.”

Slowik also said using diatomaceous earth and creating bare spaces will help as well, using planters that don’t hold moisture.

“The slugs are really restricted by moisture,” he said. “That’s like the No. one thing that regulates where they’re going to go and what they’re going to do.”

But even with these protective measures, Slowik says one needs to keep watch.

“Because I’ve seen it a number of times, where you put out a nice copper ring to keep a slug from getting on to your plant, but the leaf drapes over onto a wood and they’re just jumping from the moist wood onto your plant and devouring your plant,” he said.

Beer traps can work to capture slugs. Set out a cup of beer, level with the ground. The slug is attracted by the scent of the beer, falls into the cup and drowns. The downside is, it leaves a person with a cup of dead slugs.

Slowik also said something as simple as putting out a wet board will capture slugs. In the morning, flip the board over and collect the slugs beneath it.

The best defense is persistence.

“Keep an eye out for the slugs — catch ‘em, pick ‘em off, kill ‘em,” Slowik said.

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