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The slugs, also called red snails or slugs, they act above all in the dark and love humidity. They devour vegetables, are seen crawling in large numbers when it rains a lot, and it is at night that they do the worst damage. But we must distinguish them from snails, that is snails that move with their shells, and that the eggs of slugs if they eat them together with vegetables (making them less unwelcome).
The slugs they are not always red, they can also be black or gray. In any case, they have dimensions that do not escape sight and can be easily captured. More easily than field snails, which instead are black, gray or light brown and blend well on the ground. What all snails have in common is the fact that they are prolific: one specimen can lay round and white eggs in the ground from which up to 400 young can be born.
To prevent the slugs to conquer the garden are the natural predators of these gastropods, or the strategems that man uses. Let's see each other and treasure them.
Fight against slugs: natural predators
Here we are talking about hedgehogs, toads, shrews, moles, lizards, firefly larvae, little worms, blackbirds and starlings. Plus the snails that eat eggs. Natural predators of slugs they are so numerous that no other interventions are usually needed to keep the population under control. The problem arises when these animals decide to move their residence from the garden. In this case, other interventions are needed.
Fight against slugs: care of the soil
The slugs they prefer heavy and humid soils. They hide in the crevices of earthy clods, where they lay their eggs, and can be removed by carefully hoeing the soil in autumn, spring and summer. Beware of compost, where slugs can lay eggs and where they risk spreading.
We said that the slugs, like all snails, they love humidity and rain is a godsend for them. Even the evening irrigation attracts them by inviting them to fill up for the whole night. In dry periods it is advisable to water in the early hours of the morning, since they will then be hampered by the scorching sun. A drip system for irrigation solves a large part of the problem.
Fight against slugs: unwelcome smells
Aromatic herbs work well against slugs: sage, thyme, mustard, tropeolus and hyssop. This depends on essential oils and aromatic substances but not only. Particular conditions of soil, light and heat are also needed, so the repellent action may not always be the same. On the market there are snail repellent granules that act in the same way as aromatic plants:
Fight against slugs: mulching the soil
A good mulch is useful against slugs and snails, but it must be made with fern or tomato leaves. It is the strong smell of these plants that keeps unwanted guests away. But be careful: the mulch must be dry and replaced often to prevent it from turning into a shelter for the slugs. To learn more about the fern, we recommend reading "Fern, plant and its properties”
Fight against slugs: fences and traps
The fences for flower beds with the edges folded outwards are an insurmountable obstacle for slugs and snails. On sale there are some that are easy to assemble and in this way the problem is solved in the most natural way that exists:
Anti-sludge fence in galvanized steel
Slag-proof copper tape for vases
Once the fence has been positioned, manual harvesting and beer traps can be used to clean up the area inside. The latter are very simple to make: some yoghurt pots are buried up to the edge and filled with beer. Slugs and snails will be irresistibly attracted and will eventually drown. Beer traps can be protected from rain with upturned tubs placed on wooden cubes. There are anti traps on the market slugs already equipped with a roof:
Biological anti slug trap