Slug Scouting

As the soil health improves, the habitat for slugs tends to improve also. It is advisable to consider adding scouting for slugs to part of your management plan. Here are some ideas on how to scout for slugs.

  1. Lay some light shielding material on the ground like plastic, plywood or roofing that is about 12 inches square or larger. Lay these in several areas in the field. Every few days left up the cover and do a slug count.
  2. Take slug bait (a product with attractant that will kill the slug) and put several slug bait stations around the field. Best to flag a spot and put a small amount of slug bait around the flag. Check the station every few days. In most cases if the slug is killed, it will slime out, I.e. there will be shiny material around them and they will have shrunk in size.
  3. Or one of the best methods is lay a cabbage leaf out. The leaf works as an attractant.

If slugs are found, the determination needs to be made on when and how to control. If more than a couple slugs are found with either of the systems, baiting the field needs to be considered. In the West the recommendation for bait is 10 lbs/ac. The better baits will stand a fair amount of rain. Some producers will put less on and re-apply so the slugs have fresh source of bait every few days. The primary baits contain either Metaldehyde (trade names are Deadline and Metarex) or Iron (Ferric) (trade names are Ferroxx and Sluggo).

Slugs can be active to temperatures at or below 32 degrees. They start out quite small and can be hard to see. That is why the bait trials is sometimes better.

Biological control of slugs includes Starlings and Carbide Beetles that lay eggs in the slug, as well as many others. Starlings work as excellent scouts for slugs in Western Oregon. When there is a flock of Starlings in a field, it is worth the time to check them out. They not only feed on slugs but cutworms can also be part of their diet.

For more information please visit http://agsci.oregonstate.edu/slug-portal

Don Wirth