Monday, June 14, 2010

The Slug: Killing It Softly

This isn't a terribly glamorous Cats and Catts photo, but it illustrates a method I've adopted to combat slugs, and it shows one of the pests headed for certain death.  I haven't seen a lot of slug damage on my plants, but I've spotted the slugs crawling near a few of my favorite Cattleyas, and I decided to take action.

I'm not opposed to using Sluggo or some other method, but drowing the slugs in beer seems particularly attractive.  Orchid Growing Illustrated by Brian and Wilma Rittershausen refer to this strategy of slug control as "the famous slug pub" (pg. 126).  The 1978 Time Life Encyclopedia of Gardening volume on Orchids is surprisingly good, but you might want to overlook their enthusiasm for Diazinon (banned in the US in 2004) and Dicofol (related to DDT).  They suggest the beer method, but only after the obligatory opening pitch for chemical pesticides: "Trap snails and slugs with pesticide bait... Or lure slugs at night into a saucer of beer to drown" (pg. 149).  Frowine's Orchids for Dummies recommends the beer trap as a first line of defense against the dreaded slug: "wait for these creatures to belly up to the bar at nightfall" (pg. 119).

Just as I took some measure of delight in killing aphids last December, I hope to see some dead slugs in the morning.

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