“A Swedish woman armed with nothing but her wits and a bucket has fought off an army of almost 2,000 Spanish slugs” the headline said. I read on fascinated.
Now I garden alongside Nature as much as I can, but my greatest Enemy is Mr Slug.
My father was always carefree, sprinkling those bright blue Metaldehyde slug pellets like little (deadly) jewels amongst his dahlias. He was of that generation and I could never persuade him to give them up. They didn’t keep off the slugs either. The bright blue colour is supposed to deter birds, but it does make them very attractive to children, and vets report pet poisonings particularly from those containing Methiocarb.
Slugs are hermaphrodite – did you know this? – which means they have male and female organs (the mind boggles here) so they don’t have to meet the opposite sex to mate, which presumably means a greater chance of producing those 30 or so eggs whenever they meet a fellow slug ; and indeed does it mean they both go off and lay those eggs?
So what to do?
- Natural predators : when I kept free range hens, the garden was remarkably free of slugs.Creating a wildlife friendly garden, best with a pond, will encourage other natural predators such as birds, hedgehogs and frogs.
- Slug barriers : such as eggshells, which slugs don’t like slithering across, or coffee grounds , which slugs detest – also good for your soil, can be effective or you can purchase copper rings or tape to encircle your plants and give a little shock.
- By hand : slugs are nocturnal so head into the garden at dusk and pick them up by hand, pop in a bucket and dispose, very effective; have soapy water and a stiff drink for afterwards.
- Beer traps : my own favourite, though not the husband’s, who sees his best Belgian beer poured into glasses sunk about two-thirds into the soil. Slugs love it! I have emptied out 20-30 slugs from these in the morning, very satisfying for me and also to know that they passed on happily inebriated.
So back to the Swedish woman, Helen Martens, and the 2,000 Spanish slugs, Arion Lusitanicus, (they’re super big).
“I almost died when I saw them”, she said, as, boosted by recent rainfall, the slug army laid siege to her 200 sq m garden.
“They had seized the opportunity to eat the sunflowers and the pumpkins”.
Undeterred, she donned her gloves and filled a 5 litre bucket with them,
“In total, I picked 1,773 slugs,” she said.
And if you think that’s bad, a 76 year old Swedish man has reputedly chopped up 28,000 this summer in his garden with an ice-scraper.
So, my tip of the week, in this the height of the slug season, is to get the beers in, or.. you may prefer an ice-scraper!