My hosta garden is over run with slugs. What can I do to control these slimy garden pests?

I also have problems with slugs attacking my hostas. Just about the time the plants are looking their best, holes begin showing up in the leaves making them appear tattered and worn. However, I have discovered a few treatment options I’ve found effective.

Trapping – Slugs are attracted to cool, moist, shady areas. By placing traps in these areas you can collect slugs and dispose of them. Set an overturned terra cotta flowerpot or inverted grapefruit half on the shady side of the plants you want to protect. Put the traps out at dusk and collect the slugs in the early morning before the day heats up. Beer traps also work well. Slugs are drawn to the yeast. Take an old can with a plastic lid or a mason jar, and cut a hole into the lid. Then fill the can with beer. Bury the can up to lid level. The slugs will be attracted to the beer and fall into the can. Beer traps need to be cleaned out and refilled on a regular basis.

Barriers – There are many commercial slug barriers on the market and several home remedies that work, too. Sawdust, crushed eggshells and diatomaceous earth are effective barriers to repel slugs. If you use diatomaceous earth, be sure use a safety mask to prevent inhaling the dust. The key to these barriers is that they must remain dry so they’ll need to be refreshed after it rains or watering.

Copper – Another, more permanent barrier, can be made from strips of copper. Copper is toxic to snails and slugs. You can purchase pliable copper strips from hardware stores. I’ve also found them at local farmer’s co-operatives. Place the copper just outside the drip line of the plant. Check the strips on a regular basis to be sure there is no overhanging foliage that the slugs might use as a bridge to get over the barrier.

After you set up your protective wall, be sure to collect the slugs that are already hiding around the plant. You can do this by hand picking them at night or setting up traps as mentioned above.