Scouting for pests: Slugs

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.

Slugs are worm-like, legless organisms that are often referred to as snails without shells (View photo). They vary in length from 1 to 15 cm when full grown, depending on the species. Slugs prefer to reside in moist areas and are active at night. They leave a silvery slime trail, which is most noticeable on sunny days. Slugs vary in color from black, brown, lavender, purple and white to yellow. Several have brown specks or mottled areas.


Remove any hiding places including plant debris, weeds, rocks and wood lying on the soil surface. Avoid overwatering herbaceous perennials to minimize creating moist habitats ideal for slug breeding. Commercial molluscicides can be applied in the evening. It is important to irrigate the area before application.

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