And so the battle begins

Gesila(MI Z5)March 6, 2012

Round one of slug bait down today. Last year, it kept the slugs away until the July 4th weekend at which time the slugs won the battle in the back 40.

The crocus', Hyacinth, and tulips are peeking up. The crocus look like we'll be seeing some blooms in a week, well that is, unless the rabbits find them first.


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Awww, I hope you get to enjoy them. Do you ever plant nasturtiums? They grow like crazy up in MA, but they are aphid magnets I was told. I always found the rabbits hiding in the row of nasturtiums.

Down here, we don't have much of a springtime, except for the azaleas blooming, and Bellingrath Gardens with their professional gardening staff keeps a good show going all year, one way or another. But for most of us, spring is just a brief weekend anywhere from February to mid March. And then summer starts. :)

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 8:34PM
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I don't even want to hear that dirty four letter word this early in the year. SLUG!

My crocus are blooming and the tulips have been coming up for weeks now with so much warm weather. It got up to 73 today. I am afraid to go look under the leaves for hosta shoots this early.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 8:44PM
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LOL Franknjim I know the feeling. I have huge species of slugs here in NE Pa. I go out at night with scissors especially after and during a long rain. Have a lot of minis and one slug can eat almost the entire plant.


    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 8:51PM
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hosta_freak(z6 NC)

I feel sorry for you all with the slug problems.They have never been a big problem here. All I do is spray any of them I see with water/ammonia solution,and they go away. I don't use slug bait,because I think that just attracts them to the hostas. Just MHO. Phil

    Bookmark   March 6, 2012 at 9:34PM
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So far I found two small slugs around my hosta. I am usually squeamish about removing them, but barehanded, I removed them and then stomped on them. I hate that. But imagine the nerve of those guys going straight for the good stuff.

I'm debating the slug bait or ammonia/water question now. I prefer natural methods if possible. And, I like to choose really tough substanced hosta, more resistant to slugs from what I've read. As my experience level rises, I may change my slug approach.

I learned last fall about slug eggs, and if I see them, I know I'll be grossed out. On a few early dewy mornings, I've noticed slug trails across the brick courtyard. I shiver to think of what they are dining on.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 10:59AM
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One year I found a Banana slug in my nursery. When I measured it it was almost 8 inches long. Their native to the northwest so it must have come in on a shipment of plants. Thank god their don't live around here they'd eat entire gardens in a night or two.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 12:04PM
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If the slugs have made me mad I will break out the salt shaker and get some payback. Otherwise I just squish them between my fingers. Sometimes I will smear them on the concrete or against a rock.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 12:24PM
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bernd ny zone5

I use Bug-Geta Plus slug bait wherever I see slugs. I have 3 bottles waiting for them, and 2 Bayer Tree etc. against nematodes. I am ready! I really enjoy the success of not seeing slugs any longer where they were before. I saw them crawl over walkways, the driveway the porch when it was raining, no longer. So it seems you can eradicate them, but keep after them. For people with a potentially bad back, bending down to each of 300 hosta with a flashlight at night, ammonia handy, is not an option.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 12:51PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


I know you have access to the AHS online journal. Take a look at the article on Nems by Bill Meyer. Apparently, Nems overwinter in dead leaves, soil and in dormant buds. As Hostas emerge from dormancy the Nems climb the outside of the petioles in order to get to the leaves and reinfect them. They enter the leaves through the stomata and once they get in they are very hard to kill. However, if you can get to them while they are climbing the petioles you can kill them with insecticidal soap or even hydrogen peroxide. The problem is that we don't know when or how long this migration is or what temps and conditions are necessary for it to take place. You might want to try a less potent method for controlling these nasties by spraying the pets with something less toxic. Or you could experiment with two plants that you know have Nems. One plant spraying the pets during the spring and another using a systemic. Just a thought.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 4:21PM
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I just read a piece about iron phosphate in products which can kill the slugs and snails, yet not be harmful to pets, wild birds, or edible plants. It is in Sluggo products, which I'm about to buy from Ace Hardware tomorrow.

However, the article also mentions that slugs and snails are repelled by CAFFEINE. Scientifically proven, they say, NATURE has results of research published in it.

So putting coffee grounds around your plants is a big help, so is pouring the old stale coffee into the pots and in the ground around plants a fine thing to do. The stronger the better. Instant coffee not so much, espresso better, and drip brewed is the best. I might take a cup of black coffee on my garden walk-arounds (no cream no sugar), and when I see a slug or snail, just drop a little java on the offensive critter. It is said it is the caffeine that does it, so decaf is out.

I know nothing about nematodes, but I have an idea if I hang around with you guys long enough, I'll be up to speed.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 5:31PM
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bernd ny zone5

Mocassin, you wrote "slugs and snails are repelled". Therefore, they will go a ft away, lay their eggs, and then a hundred baby slugs will eat your hosta because the caffeine has been washed away by rain in the mean time. You need to kill them, get rid of the pest permanently, don't let them multiply.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 6:16PM
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bernd ny zone5

Sorry not to respond to you earlier, did not see it, old age.
I read Bill Meyer's article, understand that those leaf nematodes are around and in the soil. So even when you destroy the hosta, they will enter from the soil into a new plant. I removed all dead leaves last fall. It is encouraging that the AHS is now actively researching on how to kill them permanently.

In the mean time, I will fight, I will not give up on beautiful Hostas. I now have large American Icon and Cathedral Windows with leaf nematodes. That only showed up the second year (2011) after planting (2009). An old Blue Umbrellas also got it. Nothing else seems to have it. Last year I sprayed the Blue Umbrella leaves with Bayer Complete Insect Killer, and that contained it to one leaf.

The liquid Bayer Advanced Complete Insect Killer and granular Bayer Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed have Imidacloprid, their name for 'Merit', in 0.72 and 1.1% of volume, is systemic. Also Chris from Hallson's wrote on this forum that Merit will fight nematodes.

Last year in May I used first Bayer's Roses Protect and Feed, which has very little Merit, in June 1 bottle of Bayer Tree etc. and at the start of August sprayed with the liquid Bayer Adv.Complete, which was the wrong kind and sequence and too late.

This year I will use Bayer Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed around all hostas, especially those infected, when they start growing and I can see the hostas, beginning of April or later. I shall scratch it in and water it in. Then I will start spraying Bayer Adv.Complete once the leaves are up, and again the middle of July and in August. I will be handling this stuff very carefully.
Hope the best!

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 9:40AM
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I'm sorry to hear about all your slug problems.
Over here, in the Hosta Mill in Belgium, we do NOT have a slug problem. The slugs have couldn't compete with the common garden snail. Over the last 2 years I've captured MORE THAN 10.000 of them by handpicking alone. We take no prisoners.
We don't have battles, we're at war. The first battles, early in the year, I win. Comes summer, we're invaded. Last year the complete collection was affected. Some plants were reduced to a few veins dangling on some stems.

In 2012, we'll do whatever is possible to come out victorious. I'm waiting for a new weapon that is currently under development in Holland. Nematodes have been used successfully against slugs over the past years.
95% of all slugs live at least part of the day underground. So do the namatodes. Unfortunately the common garden snail doens't go underground, so the nematodes have little effect on them. A renowned firm in Holland is currently developping a solution to apply the nematodes to the base of a plant, an area every snail that wants to feed on that plant has to pass.
I've already made the first moves, preparing for the first battle: all large pots now have a ring of copper round them (found some copper tape on the internet last year).

This week I'll be drenching the areas were the snails like to dwell with an ammonia solution, especially the suspected hiding places.
Higher temps are predicted for next week. Time to start sprinkling slug pellets: few of them, only a couple per m3, but repeated regularly (2-3 times a week).
Near the areas that were worst affected last year I put pieces of damp old rugs. Harvesting time the next day.
Twice a week I will grab my torchlight and do some manual picking.
Once a month the whole garden will be sprayed with a 10% ammonium solution.

Like I said: it's war and this year I won't give in.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 11:21AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

For people with a potentially bad back, bending down to each of 300 hosta with a flashlight at night, ammonia handy, is not an option.

===>>> go buy a $10 pump spray tank .. put in 1 part ammonia or vinegar ... and 9 parts water ...

pump up.. walk around.. point nozzle.. NEVER bend down ...

maybe 3 gallon.. but anything bigger will hurt your shoulder/back.. just due to the weight of the 2+ gallons or more of water ...

would never use a backpack version ...


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 11:47AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

maybe 3 gallon.. but anything bigger will hurt your shoulder/back..

===>>> TYPO WARNING ...

do not buy bigger than a 2 gallon spray tank ...

3 is 21 pounds of water to drag around on an extended arm.. and most shoulders will not appreciate that ...

though i actually did buy a 3 gallon.. i learned after 2 fillings.. to fill no more than 2 gallons... one benefit ... is that its so tall.. i dont have to bend to pick it up ....


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 11:58AM
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