Slugs and snails may often move about on the lawn and may injure adjacent plants. They are night feeders and leave mucous trails on plants and sidewalks.
Slugs feed on a variety of living plants as well as on decaying plant matter. On plants they chew irregular holes with smooth edges in leaves and flowers and can clip succulent plant parts. They can also chew fruit and young plant bark. Because they prefer succulent foliage or flowers, they are primarily pests of seedlings and herbaceous plants, but they are also serious pests of ripening fruits, such as strawberries, artichokes, and tomatoes, that are close to the ground. However, they will also feed on foliage and fruit of some trees; citrus are especially susceptible to damage. Look for the silvery mucous trails to confirm damage was caused by slugs or snails and not earwigs, caterpillars, or other chewing insects. Holes in leaves and fruits are also telltale signs of slug feeding.
Handpicking can be effective if done thoroughly on a regular basis. At first it should be done daily. After the population has noticeably declined, a weekly handpicking may be sufficient.
To draw out snails, water the infested area in the late afternoon. After dark, search them out using a flashlight, pick them up (rubber gloves are handy when slugs are involved), place them in a plastic bag, and dispose of them in the trash; or they can be put in a bucket with soapy water and then disposed of in your compost pile.
Alternatively, captured snails and slugs can be crushed and left in the garden. Household ammonia diluted to a 5% — 10% solution in water can also be sprayed on collected slugs to kill them.
Cleaning up the garden and eliminating slug hiding places is a good idea. Moist, shady spots are needed for slugs to lay eggs as well as where adults like to spend the heat of the day.
Did you know: that while slugs are sluggish, a single slug can travel up to 3' or more in a night.
Slugs have many natural enemies, including ground beetles, pathogens, snakes, toads, turtles, and birds, but most are rarely effective enough to provide satisfactory control in the garden. Chickens also like to eat these slimy creatures.
Sometimes is may be necessary to put out slug baits for effective control. If you have pets, look for slug baits that are safe to use around them. Be very careful.
Slug baits have an attractant that makes them smell like food to pets and the product can kill them very quickly.
Another solution to to put out natural attractors. No need to invest in poison baits. Put out grapefruit halves, cut side down in areas you suspect to be infest. Check the rinds every morning and dispose of the gathered slugs. Boards and upturned flowerpots also make cozy nooks which will attract slugs.
A little slug tavern also works. Put some beer or a mixture of baking yeast mixed with water into small tin can and bury the can into the ground just up up to the rim. Slugs will be attracted by the small, slide into the can and not come out.