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By Allen Wilson
Published: May 1, 2021, 6: 03am
Slugs damaged a lot of my flowers and vegetables last year right after I planted them. They also riddled my hostas. Are there controls that will not be harmful to my children and pets? Are there any other pests which I should be aware of?
I would definitely recommend applying bait for slugs and snails the minute you plant new plants.
Slugs and snails hide in the soil during the daytime and feed at night. They hide in moist areas and under materials sitting on the soil. Apply slug bait in those areas and around perennials as they start to grow and when planting new annuals and vegetables.
The best time to apply slug bait is in the late afternoon. A light sprinkling of water just after application enhances the attractiveness of the bait to them.
Baits containing metaldehyde are the cheapest. Baits that contain iron phosphate are safe to use around children, pets and wildlife. Bait uneaten by slugs and snails will degrade and become part of the soil. Deadline is another very effective product for snail and slug control.
Maggots that infest the roots of beet, turnip, radish and sometimes onion can be controlled by placing insecticide in the soil when planting seeds. Several pesticides are effective, but the most commonly available is Sevin dust. Organic gardeners can use diatomaceous earth instead. It is also helpful to sprinkle a little on top of the soil just as seedlings emerge from the ground.
Root maggots sometimes also attack cabbage-family vegetables. They can stunt or kill the plants. Sprinkle Sevin or diatomaceous earth around seedlings when you transplant them.
Leaf miners can make tiny tunnels in the leaves of lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard and other leaf vegetables while they are quite small. Begin spraying at the first signs of damage with neem oil, a safe organic insecticide.
A small dirty white moth lays eggs on cabbage-family vegetables soon after they are planted. The eggs hatch as worms that chew leaves and flower buds of cabbage-family vegetables.
Plants can be protected from many insects — including root maggots, leaf miners and cabbage worms — with fabric row covers. The adult insects cannot reach the plants or soil around them to lay their eggs.
Fabric row covers are lightweight blankets made of spun bonded polypropylene that is sunlight-, rain- and air-permeable. They offer four benefits:
• Capturing warmth, resulting in healthier plant growth and earlier yields.
• Protecting plants from damaging winds.
• Most effective, least toxic form of insect control.
• Protecting your plants from light frost, thus extending the growing season.
Row covers can be placed over plants and secured with soil on the edges. They rest lightly on the plants and are pushed up as plants grow. Online sources include johnnyseeds.com and territorialseed.com.
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