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List of garden pests : Slugs and snails

Slugs and snails are closely related molluscs; snails have shells, slugs do not. These attack many kinds of plants, especially young plants and the soft, succulent growth of herbaceous perennials and vegetables. Slugs provide a useful function by eating dead plant tissue and they are more prevalent on soils with high organic matter where manure and compost have been applied. They are more active in wet years.

Slugs and snails can be simply collected and disposed of. Collection is made easier by laying out traps of old cabbage leaves or fruit skins. Stale beer is attractive too and a shallow dish at soil level allows them to enter and drown. Apart from this general control, it is particularly important to protect young plants and strawberry fruit.

A barrier of soot or egg shells gives mixed results. A copper strip is quite effective, giving a kind of electic shock. Otherwise, chemical slug-killers can be used, based on metaldehyde, in pellets. Some of these are liquids or powders with the advantage that birds or pets cannot eat them.

Mini-pellets are smaller and more difficult for birds and pets to find than large pellets. These should be covered by a slate supported on a few stones.

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