It might have happened to you, but have you slipped your foot inside your shoe and surprisingly find a slimy slug that has made itself comfortable inside? It is undoubtedly one of the most unpleasant feelings and unwanted surprises many people will experience. Fortunately, they are not direct threats to people and indoors, they are only considered a nuisance pest or an occasional invader. However, in the outdoor environment, they can cause significant damage to flowers, garden plants, and even fruit trees. They are a natural enemy of many gardeners around the world as well as in the United States.
There are actually many different species that can be found throughout the world. Even in the United States, a variety of species can be found throughout most of the country. Typically, adult slugs are about 1 to 8 inches long. They are signified by their soft bodies that do not have any real segmentation, appendages, backbone, or even an exoskeleton. They simply have a pair of short, stalk-like tentacles at the front of their bodies that usually hold eyes near the tip. Colors vary widely depending on the species of slug. The usual household slug, however, is usually a dull brown color or even gray in color. There are species though, that are brighter in color and some species are even signified by bright patterns. They are most like snails in body shape and form. The only difference is that they do not possess shells and their mantles are much larger than that of snails. They move by gliding on films of mucus that is excreted from their bodies and move in a very slow locomotion. This is why there are given their common names, because of their sluggish appearance and movement.
Slugs are actually hermaphrodites. This means that they have both the male and female sexual organs. This also means that they do not require mating in order to reproduce. There is a mutual fertilization and both individuals are able to lay eggs. Eggs are typically laid in moist and protected areas during almost all seasons of the year, except for the winter season. It takes about 30 days for the eggs to hatch and slugs can fully mature into the adult size in about 3 to 12 months. That means that the entire developmental time for slugs can be about 4 to a little over 13 months. Once the slug has reached full development, they are only able to live for a little less than a year and in some species, they can survive for several years.
Slugs are nocturnal creatures. Most of their activity will occur during the night and during the day they will remain in protected areas that are sheltered and damp. These locations include such places like decaying timbers, logs, wood boards, under stones, under boardwalks and decks, in damp leaf litter, under vegetation that is low-lying and close to the ground, in damp crawlspaces and unfinished basements, ivy beds, and etc. Often times, when there is a drop in temperature or a rise in humidity, people may begin to notice more slug activity.
Slugs leave behind a trail of slime as they maneuver their way through gardens and walkways. This slime trail will remain visible for several days. Often times, slugs will use or follow the same trail every time they travel so that they can avoid dry areas and sharp objects.
Although slugs do not pose as a real threat to people, in ornamental and vegetable gardens as well as fruit trees, they can cause some major plant damage. They are able to hurt or create aesthetic damage to plants because they are surface feeders and will leave holes in leaves. Some species are even able to burrow into the ground and feed on the roots of plants which can heavily damage the development of the plant. They are able to ruin flower beds, berries, fruits, ornamental plants, and many different vegetables or crops in gardens and agricultural fields.
Because slugs are limited to damp or moist areas, remove anything on the ground or in the garden that can trap moisture. Any boards, logs, stones, flower pots or planters, fallen trees, and etc. that are left above the ground can trap moisture and be perfect habitats for slugs to reside in. All necessary materials, like firewood, should be stacked above the ground and given good ventilation. Also, crawlspaces should be given good ventilation so that humidity and ultimately, moisture does not build up inside. Opening up gardens and landscapes so that they are vulnerable to more sun penetration may prove effective in slug control as well. To keep plants from dying out, you can use mulch that is no higher than just a few inches so that you can trap in moisture without keep the environment too damp for slugs. Physical removal may prove effective for slugs. It may take several nights to physically look for the slugs and manually remove them. Slugs can be found by following their slime trails.
In areas around the perimeter of the home, use an appropriately labeled liquid insecticide with a residual time in a barrier treatment form so that you can keep slugs out of your house. In crawl spaces, dust insecticides will prove effective because dust insecticides are made efficient for restricted areas. Pesticides in the form of a granular bait or fine granular bait will also prove to be effective for slug control. Keep in mind that many pesticides have a high chemical content and may not be applicable to vegetable gardens or fruit trees. Read all product labels thoroughly before applying any pesticide. Contact one of our representatives at 1-800-788-4142 to find the products that are right for the slug infestation that you are experiencing.
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