Slugs are snails without a shell. Their soft slimy body can get up to 8 inches long ranging from white to brownish black in color. They prefer a damp, cool environment, especially rainy weather.
Slugs feed at night on all kinds of plants and hide during the day from the sun under moist, shaded mulch, leaves or organic material.
The nightly feeding frenzy can do a lot of damage to your shaded garden plants with tell tale signs of ragged holes to large sections of leaves eaten away. They start from the bottom and eat their way up the plant leaving a slimy trail in their path.
There are several ways to approach this problem. One way, is to go out at night with a flashlight and handpick using tweezer or chopsticks to grab the slimies off the plant. If that doesn’t appeal to you, set up a soil barrier of crushed eggshell, wood ashes or sprinkle diatomaceus earth around the plant, which they won’t cross. Diatomaceaus earth is a prehistoric shellfish that feels smooth but is gritty enough to cut their bodies and cause them to dehydrate and die. Both diatomaceus earth and wood ashes need to be reapplied after a rain.
Copper sheeting (Snail-Barr) is also effective when placed around a flower bed. It shocks the slug with a mild electric charge.
A shallow dish buried at soil level, filled with beer lures the slugs to the yeast in the beer and causes them to drown. You will have to replenish the beer and remove the victims daily. There are baits such as Sluggo, Escar-Go! and Worry Free that can also take care of the problem.
As you can see there are all kinds of solutions. The thing to keep in mind is to start treatment early (check in spring) before they get out of control, and eliminate potential hiding places by removing garden debris and last year’s mulch from affected plants. If you have a wet season, expect a heavier infestation.