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Killing slugs: cruel or good?

Slugs: why you see them all the time, what to do about them, and why killing them actually helps out other species. 
Slugs homing in on my basil

The problem with slugs (and snails too)

  • One slug can produce 600 eggs a year, easy. They don't even need another slug to do it since most are hermaphroditic.

  • They lay their eggs in groups of 15 to 50, either in the soil mix or underneath plant scraps. 

  • The eggs hatch when it's warm and moist. Until then, they can survive a long time.

  • Back in the day, you'd get about 2 generations of slugs each year. During the past 5 years of wet summers, there've been 3 or 4. 

  • A slug becomes an adult after 8 weeks. Then it lays its own eggs. This fast growth requires it to eat half of its bodyweight every day.

More and more slugs

It's not just the native species that are driving us nuts. You can find invasive slug species gaining ground all over Holland. 

Like the Spanish slug: it can survive drought and lays as many as 400 eggs at a time.
De Spaanse slak (foto Velt)
The Spanish slug (photo: Velt)
These species crossbreed with Dutch slugs. And so their offspring are even more resistant to our climate. 

The eggs are not only resistant to drought but to cold temperatures too. 

A threat to other animals (pets too)

Slugs can carry diseases and parasites. The more slugs there are, the more they can spread them.

That doesn't just mean bad news for the hedgehogs, but for cats and dogs too. 

Fewer natural enemies

Slugs are part of a healthy diet for hedgehogs, toads, frogs, and many bird species. 
Yes! A frog in the garden
Many spiders, daddy longlegs, and ground beetles also feast on slugs. 

But because there are fewer and fewer of these natural enemies, the natural balance is increasingly out of whack. 

Niets aan te doen?

Next, you can make your garden more welcoming to natural slug-hunters.

And lastly, you can lend a hand yourself.

Most eco-friendly gardeners recommend going slug hunting and immediately killing them.

And no, it doesn't have to be done in a sadistic way. You can do it quickly and painlessly.

Just see yourself as an ally to hedgehogs and daddy longlegs. You're helping restore the natural balance in your garden's ecosystem. 

How do you kill snails quickly and painlessly?

Real die-hards snip them in half with sharp scissors (🤢 )

You can also let them drown in beer, sugar water, or boiling water. Or place them in a Tupperware container and put that in the freezer.  

What do you do with them after that?

Leave the dead slugs in a corner of your garden (or public park if you're in the city). Birds, hedgehogs, toads, and beetles will be happy you did!

After a while, you won't have to kill them anymore. The natural enemies will do it for you 🤗 

Good luck! 

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