Proper defensive measures can help keep them off your most-wanted list
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/18/2013 -- The slithery nemesis of gardeners have persisted through the 2012 list of gardeners' top pests for a second consecutive year.
The RHS have revealed that its “Top Ten” pests of the 2012 year, based upon inquiries received through its Entomology department had slugs and snails as the number one most persistent annoyance for gardeners. The result mirrors the 2011 top ten, which also had the little critters at the top of the list. The 2012 tally had twice as many inquiries.
“The dominant feature of 2012 was the weather, and this had a big impact on garden pest problems,” said Andrew Halstead, RHS Principal Scientist Plant Health. “As we all know, this was the second wettest year in the past 100 years. Pests that like damp conditions therefore did well. Last summer the demand for slug controls, especially nematodes used as a biological control, sometimes exceeded supplies.”
The best way for a gardener to be an upper-hand on slugs and snails is to transplant sturdy plantlets grown on in pots, instead of having young and vulnerable seedlings. Gardeners can also place slug traps near to vulnerable plants. Skins of half oranges or grapefruit laid out cut-side down tend to be a great deterrent.
Barriers are another option for those who see stubborn suckers roaming their pathways. Copper tape surrounding pots, or standing them on matting that are impregnated with copper salt can work well. Moisture-absorbent minerals placed about the plants can also work. Having predators to the slugs and snails is an old-fashion remedy, such as birds, toads, hedgehogs.
Below average temperatures and wet weather, while at times an annoyance or damaging to plants, can also have a positive effect. Conditions as such can reduce the rate of pest development. Some pests, such as moths or viburnum beetles, are noticeably troublesome during the summer months. Colder weather tends to deter them.
“It will be interesting to see what effect the wet winter has on pest populations in 2013,” says Andrew. “Insects that overwinter underground or spend part of their life cycle there can drown when the soil becomes waterlogged. This affects not just pests but also some beneficial insects, such as ground-nesting solitary bees.”
“Slugs and snails are often so abundant in gardens that some damage has to be tolerated. Gardeners need to accept that they cannot be totally eradicated,” says Andrew. “Seedlings and other vulnerable plants can be protected with slug pellets containing metaldehyde or ferric phosphate but there are also some useful non-chemical controls. For example, a biological control specific to slugs is available in the form of a microscopic nematode or eelworm (Nemaslug).”
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