Slugs are unwelcome guests in many gardens, feasting on your own squash plant. Since the slugs chew on vines and leaf, the vine can begin to wither. The damage caused by slugs can resemble the broken caused by various leaf-eating insects such as caterpillars. To confirm that the culprits are slugs, start looking for silvery mucous trails on and around the squash plant. As soon as you identify slugs as the cause of withered squash vines, implement proper management to rid your garden of this slimy mollusks and maintain them at bay.
Slug baits can be found to control the annoying pests feeding on your own squash vines. Baits with the active ingredient metaldehyde work best when the weather is warm. Once absorbed, the slugs dehydrate and die, generally in just a day. Unfortunately, these lures are poisonous for cats, dogs and wildlife which may consume the pellet-form lure, and shouldn’t come in contact with plants or vegetables. Baits containing iron phosphate will control slugs in your garden without posing a danger to pets, kids, fish or birds. These baits can be scattered across the squash vines in addition to across the yard or lawn. Unfortunately, since iron phosphate baits prevent the slugs from feeding, it can take several days for them to die.
Strips or bands of copper placed around the squash plants will function as a barrier preventing the slugs from gaining access to them. The slime which slugs — and snails — naturally produce reacts with the copper, causing them to obtain a unpleasant electric shock if they attempt to move upon the copper. Copper obstacles need regular maintenance to remove any debris that is lost — such as sticks or leaves — which can land on the copper strips. If not removed, the slugs can use the debris for a bridge to cross the copper and earn access into the squash vine.
Whichever method of slug management you decide on, combining it with proper ethnic control will greatly decrease the amount of pests attacking the squash vines. Slugs hide underneath boards, stones, debris and in weeds during the day. By removing their hiding places, you take away the shelter they want to live. In addition, slugs favor moist, humid conditions, which can arise because of improper irrigation. Selecting drip irrigation rather than sprinkler irrigation reduces the humidity near the plants and creates a drier environment which slugs and snails do not prefer.
Other Control Approaches
Staphylinid beetle is a natural predator of slugs. Sadly, this beetle also has a propensity to feed on decaying and ripening vegetables and may cause more damage than good. Amphibians, birds and snakes also feed on slugs and help to naturally control their numbers. However, these predators generally won’t offer effective control in large slug infestations. Another option to controlling slugs without harsh chemicals is to bury a beer-filled pie pan in bottom level to trap the slugs, as stated by the Purdue University Extension. The beer acts as bait, drawing the slugs to the pan to drown.