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Updated: August 8, 2017
Slugs are actually mollusks. There are a few different species of slugs in Pennsylvania. Some are small; others can reach up to 8 inches long. They overwinter as eggs, immature or mature slugs in protected areas in fields, including under boards, plastic or decaying vegetation. Slugs are especially troublesome in no-till fields with lots of crop residue. Slugs become active in the spring, continue their life cycle, and when mature they can lay up to 80 spherical, pearly white eggs at a time. They can lay eggs up to 6 times a year.
Slugs damage plants by chewing holes in leaves and fruit. They leave silvery mucous trails where they travel, which is certainly unappetizing on herbs and lettuce. One of their worst habits is their tendency to inhabit the inside lower leaves of head lettuce. Once they have moved into your crop it is just about impossible to wash them all off which can significantly decrease your yield.
If you can prevent the slug population from moving into your crop, you will be able to extend your marketing season. It is critical to start early because after the population builds it is really hard to stop them. Here are some ideas for controlling this pest:
If you choose to use pesticides, always follow the directions on the label.
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