Dealing with snails and slugs

Slugs and snails are a universal pain in gardens. They're very similar creatures, except snails carry their house on their back.  

Robin Rosetta is a retired extension educator at Oregon State University. She says 99% of the snails and slugs found in your garden are not native. Since they thrive in cool, damp areas during the day, Rosetta says one line of defense is to eliminate their hiding places. 

"See if you have woody debris around, containers, anything that they would hide under during the daytime is a good place to look. And you can hand collect them, often it's just pretty easy to put them in a can of soapy water and they'll drown within 24-hours, usually," says Rosetta. "That works very well."

Some people use cups of beer buried around the plants. Slugs and snails are attracted to the yeast in the beer, and fall in. There are chemicals that control them, but be careful, because these products may be harmful to pets and kids.   

Barriers around your plants are another option. Copper flashing and screen is often successful. The copper somehow reacts with the critter's slime, causing a flow of electricity.

Snails and slugs need moisture to function, so you might solve the problem by just letting everything dry out. 

"And part of that is just how you treat thing," she says. "If you water in the morning versus water in the evening, chances are that you're going to see a great reduction in the amount of damage overnight, because it will still be wet if you water in the evening. So having things drier, again, will tend to make it less conducive."  

If your garden is overrun with snails and slugs, change your landscaping. The creatures aren't fond of plants with stiff leaves and highly-scented foliage. They also won't munch on geraniums, impatiens, begonias, and ornamental grasses.

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