Dealing With Slugs, Snails, And Vine Weevil In Your Garden

Published: 27th April 2009
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Slugs and Snails are an absolute menace in the garden. Not only do they gorge themselves on our plants, they leave behind the most disgusting, slimy trail. On food crops, once they have slithered their way over the plants, greatly reduces our enthusiasm to eat and enjoy them ourselves. Conventional slug pellets do work but they are life threatening to other creatures in the garden.

Control- Slug pellets certainly do destroy slugs and snails but they are life threatening to other creatures in the garden, other creatures that we would like to encourage because they work with us, helping to eliminate other pests that would otherwise feast on our crops. Safer methods appeal to organic gardeners and gardeners with an interest in conserving nature and the environment.

Beer traps work well, just put some beer into a shallow container that has steep sides, the slugs love the stuff and when they have drunk their fill they simply drown. Seeing their stranded brethren does not seem to deter their fellow snails from slithering into the same fate. Milk or grape juice works just as well! Another good trap is to place a half of either grapefruit or melon skin with the flesh removed of course. Place them upside down on the ground; here the slugs gather over night; these can be collected the next morning and disposed of. There are several traps available from Garden Centres, usually constructed from polypropylene or plastic which incorporate the same principle as the home made beer trap but might be considered more aesthetically pleasing piece of equipment. There are also physical barriers such as plant collars, sprays and tapes to protect selected plants. Lay boards in the garden to trap slugs and snails. Check your trap early in the morning and remove the slugs and snails as they collect. Drenching the soil with wormwood tea keeps them at bay.

Another good trap is to place a half of either grapefruit or melon skin with the flesh removed of course. Place them upside down on the ground; here the slugs gather over night; these can be collected the next morning and disposed of. Naturally occurring microscopic nematodes which seek out and kill slugs are available in a liquid which when mixed with water and applied with a gardening can, give protection for up to six weeks. It is able to kill young and small slugs under the soil (90 % of the population).

According to a recent study it has been possible to reduce slug and snail damage dramatically by watering in the morning instead of the evening. The study showed that lettuce watered only in the morning had only 1/5 the damage that lettuce watered in the evening had.

Vine Weevil- The adult weevil is a dark, oval-shaped beetle like insect, with a blunt snout and distinct antennae. The weevils make U shaped notches from the edge of leaves. The adult weevils emerge from the soil in late May or early June through mid- July. Adults feed for 4-5 weeks in order to produce the 300+ eggs that are dropped into the ground under the plant. The eggs hatch within 2 weeks and the larvae then tunnel into the soil. The larvae are the real problem, attacking the root system of the plant from late summer until the following spring. The larvae can grow to be about 1cm in length, are creamy white in colour with a dark head and are crescent shaped. They then tunnel deeper into the soil to protect themselves from frost and pupate in the spring. Understanding the lifecycle and feeding practices of the weevil is the key to keeping the pest under control. Since adult weevils feed on leaves during the night and look for dark, moist spots during the day to rest, trapping them in these areas can be quite effective. Control-Hand picking- with the aid of a flashlight, pick-off the adults in the evening as they come out to feed.

Want to find out about planting grass seed and grass fertilizer? Get tips from the Plants And Flowers website.

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