Slug Scouting

As the soil health improves, the habitat for slugs tends to grow 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.

  • 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 of the field. Every few days lift the cover and do a slug count.
  • Take slug bait (a product with an attractant that will kill the slug) and put several slug bait stations around the field. It is best practice to flag a spot and put a small amount of slug bait around the flag. Check the station every few days. When the slug is killed, it will slime out – there will be shiny material around them, and they will have shrunk in size.
  • One of the best methods is to lay a cabbage leaf out. The leaf will work as an attractant.

If slugs are present, determine when and how to control them. If more than a couple of slugs are discovered with any scouting method, consider baiting the field. 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 a 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°. They start quite small and can be hard to see making bait trials more effective. 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.

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