slug eggs - desperate!! need help!!

robin-whoneedshelpJuly 19, 2009

I am desperate and seeking advice from anyone who has dealt with slugs and their eggs. I have been dealing with them after a very wet late spring and summer here in the northeast. Well, I did all that was recommended to wipe out the slugs and I thought I was victorious - but my annuals in the ground and in various types of planters continue to be eaten and die. After throwing away a few of the contents of one of the planters when all the flowers had been destroyed I noticed that there were a few of these little while fluid filled eggs on the top of the soil and down in the soil. After many hours of combing through all the soil in all my plants in the ground and in planters - I found the eggs in all of them. It took me a while to figure out that they were slug eggs. So - this is why I am here - desperately seeking any solutions to get rid of the eggs before all my flowers are destroyed. I have broken down crying over them - as they were all doing so well and now everything is a mess.....

FYI - I have spent an unusual amount of time and $$ this year on flowers (annuals) as we put our house up for sale and I am trying to max out the curb appeal! PLease help - any thoughts or suggestions would be appreciated!!!!!!!!

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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Robin, many container/potting soils contain time release fertilizer pellets that can be mistaken for eggs, maybe not all you are seeing are being left from slugs. I thought we were the slug capital in the country, I battle them 11 months out of 12 here, sometimes skipping just January. Somehow I don't find the clusters of eggs all that often (just slugs)...those times I do find eggs I smash them.

It's not hard to get control, just takes persistence. You need to make sure what you are dealing with are slugs and not earwigs or caterpillars, so please go out after dark with a flashlight and have a good look. Fill a spray/spritz bottle 1/4 the way up with household ammonia then finish with water...if on your hunt you do see slugs on your plants or heading for your plants, give them a spritz and they are dead in a heartbeat - the ammonia won't harm foliage - and you've taken your first step in reducing their numbers.

And if it's slugs or snails you find damaging your plants, pick up one of the pet/wildlife friendly baits that are so available now - iron phosphate is the active ingredient, some of the brand names Sluggo, Worry Free, Ortho EcoSense, there are a few on the market to choose from so go by price...use it consistently. It could take a few days to get the upper hand, so in the meantime continue your flashlight outings, beginning at dusk and maybe making a second trip a little later in the evening.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 9:47PM
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Thanks very much for the advice - I have seen the sluggies many times at night and effectively used one of the bait products to eliminate them or so I thought. It's funny you mention the fert pellets as that is what I wrote them off as for a little while. But these are all differing in size slightly, and many filled with liquid, a few I have seen appear to have hatched. I'm pretty certain it is not pellets, as they are in the ground too where I did not use any potting soil. I think I killed the vast majority of the slugs, but the eggs clearly are a different story. Do you think it could be a different tupe of bug larvae? I do see what I think are cutworms that don't appeat to be impacted by the insecticide - organic and non that I have tried....can you feel the desperation?? :)

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 10:11PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

OP wrote " I think I killed the vast majority of the slugs,"

Hmmm. If so, you're the first person to ever accomplish that. It's often said that 10% or fewer slugs are visible at any one time.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 1:29AM
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Ok - so I should rephrase....I haven't seen any slugs lately - even at night when I am out searching with a flashlight! I can't find any evidence of them taking the slug bait (I can usually see all the slime trails in the AM) Still appreciate any advice! Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2009 at 8:19PM
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Not all slugs leave slime trails so look for the beasties not the trail. I did not believe this one until I saw it for myself.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 9:18PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

That must be frustrating when you are trying welcome people wanting to look at your house...

But there must be an answer. If you aren't finding active slugs there must be something else...even if those are their eggs you are finding, eggs don't eat.

If you are going out at night are you seeing earwigs or caterpillars that could be doing the damage? Is it one type annual over others, or which ones?

    Bookmark   July 22, 2009 at 10:22PM
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Yes I had slugs. After years of slug hunting, this year I found only a few small ones on the landscape timbers at planting borders. Table salt is very effective for slugs not on plants. Yesterday I purchased some bags labeled garden soil. Therein I found a number of those round off white globules(slow release fertilizer t'is said) No mention of added fertilizer on the bag. Come next spring I will have my answer.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 11:32AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Here's a picture of some ready-to-burst Osmocote prills, to go along with the slug image that Mor attached. It's easy to see how the two (slug eggs and SRF) can be confused.

When SRF prills absorb moisture from the soil, the contents become liquified. Once fully swollen, they burst open and release their contents. They are all different sizes at this point....that's why they are slow release....they burst at different times. They are also fun to pinch between your fingers...they explode with liquid fertilizer.

It's rare that I don't bring home plants from the nursery without plenty of SRF in the potting mix.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 27, 2011 at 2:39PM
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I haven't a clue what a slug egg looks like, nor do I want to. The photo... ruined my appetite (Smile)..

Last evening, for first time in 2 years, I got it in my head to slug hunt. Goodness, some are HUGE at this time, like slimy gross snakes (well, mini form)... First I was cuting with a knife, then I got a soapy water bucket and got 30 (some snails in there to, just a small area)... until my back hurt too much. Now I have the gross bucket out there. Do they die during frost?

In my mind, the seasons closing so thus I won't worry as much, though that explains why my coleus and a few other things were ravaged. The damage seems more prominent now, and we really haven't had any more rain...

Once I read a thread where someone claimed to eliminate many many after a few evenings of patrol. I don't know... I won't have the energy to do that this year.

I'd like to know, what is THEIR purpose in the foodchain? Birds (some) may eat, though robins seem to dislike... but what good do they do for ... anything? I know moles like them, but I'd hardly say that's good...

I have sluggo but I thought I read on container that it's best not to use if you have pets or something, and best not to breathe in, which makes me nervous. Diachromatic earth I always think of, but it's too expensive here.

Robin, I can't offer suggestions, I can offer emphathy, I do KNOW what it's like to spend the money and effort, then see... the ravages...

Take care

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 8:36AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

In natural areas, slugs are part of the recycling team that turns plant material back into the elements that more plants can once again take up into their systems. The fact that WE plant delectable crops for them is our fault, not theirs. They are doing what comes naturally....we are not. ;-) How's that for a reason for their existence?

I know that some beetles (like rove beetles) eat slugs, as do lightning bug larvae. I've heard that ducks and guinea fowl love them, and toad eat them, too.

Sluggo is safe to use around pets but you should not apply it in large piles, or leave the container around where they can get to it. Just about all products have some sort of warning on the label. Your shampoo bottle will warn you against ingestion or getting the product in your eyes! And don't swallow that toothpaste (according to the label). And what about the diatomaceous earth??? Lots of cautionary labels on that.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 3:42PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

grayandamy, the eggs and to a lesser extent, even the slugs, seem to have a natural antifreeze, I've found them after a winter storm with freezing temps no worse for the wear and looking quite well.

In between now and Fall is when a good deal of the egg laying takes place so reducing their numbers now will save you work in Spring....Fall can be an important time to not slack off in controlling them. As Rhizo said, scatter your Sluggo pellets and don't be concerned it will harm your pets.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 6:37PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

They easily survive winters in zone 4. Last winter we had temps to -30 and slugs were and are still present.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 10:29PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Just to share some information with you, I found out where 'my' slugs liked to overwinter and lay eggs. I should say USED to like. They were able to squirm their way into the drainage holes of my outdoor container plants and set up quite a little hotel and nursery. The first time I discovered this, which was during my spring repotting session, I was disgusted and enthralled at the same time, if you know what I mean.

I've used copper screen in the bottom of my containers ever since, with excellent results.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2011 at 11:30PM
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I've been battling slugs for a few months. Sandpaper, composite roof shingles, eggshells, copper tape, coffee grounds (I watched them slink right over all of those), beer traps, etc. didn't seem to help. Garden Safe Crawling Insect Killer (has diatomaceous earth in it) seemed to help, but not as quickly as I'd like it to. In my nighty slug hunts, I'd catch dozens of the little pests, but never found one snail; do I only attract homeless bugs?

I finally resorted to buying cheap "steel wool" scrubbie pads at the Dollar Store (3 for $1.00), and cutting them to wrap around the base of the plants that the slugs seemed to love. That eliminated the damage to those particular plants, at least.

Through this forum, I've seen pictures of the fertilizer pellets and their slug doppelgängers, and am still unsure on how to tell them apart. My questions are:

1. Are slug eggs usually grouped together in a bunch?? and 2. It says that if you squish the fertilizer pellet, water
comes out. What comes out if you squish a slug egg? (or do I even really want to know?)

If the answer is "liquid that looks like water", then I'm totally confused about how to tell the two apart!!!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 8:59PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

If you squish a fertilizer pellet, liquid fertilizer comes out.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 10:02PM
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I guess I should have double checked the post before sending it.. I now notice that "nighty" should be "nightly", and that I should have said liquid fertilizer instead of water re: the fertilizer pellets (assuming that they ARE fertilizer pellets and not the water retaining thingadies.)

In any case, the question was "What comes out if you squish a slug egg?" I'm assuming SOMEONE here has had that experience!

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 11:08PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I've been in the business for over 30 years and have never come across slug eggs, only clutches of babies. However, if you review a few of the thousands of images on line, you'll see that slugs tend to lay their eggs in 'batches '.

I believe that the eggs would be soft, rubbery when pinched. The SRF (slow release fertilizer) prills have a hard shell. They pop when pinched, spurting their contents. Even though I have never seen a mass of slug eggs, I have no doubt that they would be quite different from a few scattered prills.

SRF are hard little balls when dry. As they slowly absorb water from the soil through microscopic pores in their shells, their contents become liquid and the outer coatings fragile. Because these prills are different sizes, they burst open over a long period of time.

The water absorbing crystals resemble globs of amorphous jello, jelly.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2012 at 7:34AM
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"I'd like to know, what is THEIR purpose in the foodchain?"

We have a small species of snake in our area known as the Sharp-tailed Snake (Contia tenuis). One of it's favorite foods is slugs/slug eggs...

I see them often during our winter rains and have transplanted a quite a few to our yard. The slug population is way down from what it once was 5 years ago...

Here is a link that might be useful: Sharp-tailed Snake

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 6:29PM
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Huachuma, I can't recall ever seeing snakes in my area, except for my kids' pets who've escaped. I'm not afraid of snakes (much more afraid of slugs!), and wouldn't mind having them in my yard. Can you please email me one? lol!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 7:28PM
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There are a lot of things about our world we do not know much about and most likely never will. Why are things such as slugs, snails, poison ivy, etc. here? They all do serve some purpose with the slugs and snails providing a food source, if we allow it, for toads, snakes, birds, etc. So, if you do all kinds of things to keep toads and snakes out of your garden you will have a very large problem with things like slugs.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 6:47AM
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