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Slug predators : who are they? How to attract them in your garden?

slug predators

What better way to regulate your garden’s slug population – far too numerous for your taste and that of your cabbages – than to host a horde of hungry predators, ready to pounce on their prey?

 

Watch out, you little slugs! Respect my salads, where I’ll facilitate the natural wrath, the predatory sentence lying in wait in the woods, under the woods, under the leaves…

 

Who are these shadowy allies? Those drooling regulators?

 

And above all, how do you attract them to your garden?

 

If you've discovered my blog, you're probably bothered by slugs and snails.

You'd probably be very interested in the 7 Steps to get rid of slug by attracting the Alpha predatorI have designed with the help of Science, and The slug-proof garden Design I have made (with the help of dozens of scientific studies too).

It changed everything for me. I can finally grow lettuces, cabbages, strawberries and cucurbits without pulling the hair out of my head.

Don't hesitate, you'll probably save a lot of time!


A
efore going any furtherthere’s an article I recommend you readIf you’re looking for solutions to your slug problems. This is the article on testing and assessing natural “anti” slugs, the link to which is just below. Among other things, it helps you understand the “slug management” section of my website, for which I’ve written some fifteen articles, organized in a coherent fashion.

"Anti" natural slugs: tests and results

I. Natural predators of slugs: presentation

 

A. The slug-eating hedgehog

 

It’s sometimes said that insectivorous hedgehogs prefer larvae, worms and other insects to slimy slugs… It’s true, and it would seem that this is mainly due to their texture, which makes them difficult to swallow and chew.

Even so, slugs are still protein-rich food for hedgehogs, and according to some sources, an adult hedgehog can swallow up to 10 large slugs in a single night.

Here’s a video of a young hedgehog rubbing a slug against the ground to rid it of its slime and gobble it up.

The main garden hazards for hedgehogs are: pesticides, metaldehyde-based slug pellets, beer traps, swimming pools and ponds without suitable exits, and dogs.

If you’re feeding a hedgehog, the rule is simple: only kibble and cat/dog food. Other foods (milk or bread, for example) can be fatal for him.

Here is the article how to attract hedgehogs to your garden

 

 

B. Slug-eating amphibians

Contrary to popular belief, amphibians are also very good slug predators (especially small slugs).

Toads, frogs, salamanders and newts all help to control slugs in the garden.

 

Because yes, the best way to attract amphibians to the garden is to create a natural pond, except for toads (they’ll settle for a cool, damp corner of the garden).

 

To limit the dangers in your garden for amphibians, you’ll need to block off basement stairways (where they get trapped and die of desiccation), and passages leading to roads, not forgetting to keep an eye on your cat (as pussycats have an annoying tendency to play with amphibians), and above all without using pesticides or metaldehyde-based slug pellets.

 

C. Slug-eating reptiles

Orvet slug predator

The orvet, the legless lizard, is a big consumer of slugs: in fact, slugs make up the bulk of its diet! (source: https: //www.quelestcetanimal.com/amphibiens-et-reptiles/lorvet-fragile/).

As for the amphibians, be very careful not to use pesticides in the garden (after all, if you garden in permaculture it goes without saying), no metaldehyde-based anti-slug granules (and even then, we’re not sure about ferric phosphate), and keep a close eye on your catwhich is a major cause of death in garden orvets!

 

As for the lizards, they can do their bit by helping to eat the tiny slugs and eggs of these gastropods.

Likewise, be very careful with your cats!

It’s very likely that adders and garter snakes also feed on slugs… check it out!

 

 

D. Insect predators of slugs

Among slug predators, the stars are carabids, staphylins and glow worms!

They can all take on much larger specimens.

In a garden, a population of ground beetles can make a real contribution to regulating a slug population. To specifically attract them, you can plant red clover or phacelia, two plants that tend to favor their presence.

 

But above all, for these three insects, the rule to follow will be to restrict grass mowing, and avoid the use of modern, destructive ploughing equipment (especially for carabid beetles and staphylines). As always, we must also ban the use of pesticides and beer traps, which can drown many carabid beetles and staphylines attracted by the smell of dead slugs.

Find out more about attracting carabid beetles to your garden: carabid slug predators.

 

E. Slug-eating birds

 

Many birds feed on the smallest slugs. The video above is an example (you can’t see very well, but you can still make out the slug quite easily).

The easiest way to attract birds to your garden is to install nesting boxes! Indeed, with the scarcity of large dead trees, and “too clean” natural spaces in general, birds are often in a “housing crisis”. You can also plant berry trees.

 

F. The leopard slug

the leopard slug is a slug predator

The leopard slug, tiger slug or spotted slug is a slug that eats other slugs!

It’s common to find slugs eating dead fellow slugs, but far less common to see a cheetah crawling after poor arion hortensis in the early stages of life… Yes, it would seem that the prey of leopard slugs is very small.

Here is an article dedicated to this beautiful animal: the leopard slug, a toxic slug predator?

 

II. How to attract natural slug predators to the garden?

where do carabid beetles live?

So how do you attract these predators to your garden? I will refer here to the general arrangements to be made, which are suitable for the majority of the species mentioned.. For predator-specific layouts, it’s best to refer to the specific article on the predator in question..

 

To attract the majority of slug predators to the garden, the general rule to follow, as with most insect and animal helpers, is: don’ t have a garden that’s too “clean”.

A lawn, with no hedges or dead leaves, for example, is an environment that offers no hiding place for auxiliary insects and animals, so there’s very little chance of attracting them to your garden over the long term.

 

An important point is tohave a hedge in your garden with a base covered with dead leaves, branches or tall grass that is rarely mowed. This creates a veritable cocoon of hiding places for many animals and insects.

A variety of local plant species is also highly recommended. For example, many insects have probably co-evolved with certain plant species in their ecosystem (or simply enjoy their presence, for different reasons), and planting them in your garden will help create a favorable environment for these slug predators.

You can also create hiding places of various kinds: piles of wood, branches, stones, large flat stones laid on the ground, as well as buying or building shelters adapted to these predators.

blackberries

In addition to making your garden an optimal environment for these beneficials, you will need to take care to clear your garden of any potential hazards that could threaten these slug predators: if you’ve read this far, I bet you already know what they are: Ban the use of pesticides, slug pellets (mainly metaldehyde-based), and sometimes beer traps… And keep an eye on your pets (cat, dog)… As well as your “adopted predators”, but we’ve just come to that…

 

 

The purpose of this article is to put into context the 6 thumbnail articles below, which address this theme.

It provides a more global view of this predator-based slug management strategy.

I’m trying to address three points that I think are essential:

  • What are slugs’ natural predators? How do you attract them to your garden?
  • What are the “adopted” slug predators?
  • Why is the difference between natural and adopted predators crucial? Which slugs should you choose to control in your garden?

 

Suggested reading: ideally, you should read this article (it’s not finished, it continues below) to get an overview of the issue. Then take the time to explore the 6 articles below, the ones that interest you most: they provide a more detailed look at each of these slug predators. You’ll often find videos showing them hunting and eating slugs, as well as ways of attracting them specifically to the garden, and lots of other info.

 

Enjoy your reading!

The hedgehog

 

In detail

Carabid beetles

In detail

Leopard slugs

 

In detail

Indian racing ducks

In detail

Nematodes

In detail

Robin

A passionate experimental vegetable grower, I had huge slug problems during my first 2 years of vegetable gardening.

Nothing (eggshells, ashes, etc.) seemed to work…

And yet, if the Internet was to be believed, everything was supposed to work…

In short, faced with an obvious problem of misinformation, I decided to take action: I tested all the famous “slug barriers”, so as to have a clear mind, and know what to do.

I filmed my (13) tests(here, in French)

The results were crystal clear: nothing was able to effectively block the path of slugs and snails, except聽Water, usable with trenches at least 5 cm deep and 10 cm wide, or Copper, if used vertically, if its height is at least 7 cm

But a water-based barrier is difficult to implement, and copper is expensive…

It was by turning to scientific studies that I found the solution: adopting a slug predator in the garden, present everywhere in the world, which has a huge regulatory effect on them.

The studies show it. And I called this predator the Alpha predator of slugs.

Using dozens of scientific studies again, I constructed an action plan of the most effective arrangements to attract this Alpha predator to the garden sustainably, and to see it multiply by itself, year after year, season after season.

And to get rid, definitively (and intelligently), of slugs.

I have gathered these 7 steps in a digital book that I propose on this site, and at the end of the book, there is also a video training module on designing a slug-proof garden.

You can find this digital book (which contains all of this) by clicking here. And what if you don’t get rid of your slugs by following the advice in this book? It’s simple, I will refund you in full (but it will work, if you follow the instructions properly).

So, don’t hesitate to discover the simple 7 Steps that can change your springs.

the seven steps to definitly get rids of slugs

The 7 Steps Action Plan to definitively (and intelligently) get rid of slugs (and snails).

 

III. Adopted slug predators

A. Slug-eating Indian racing ducks

housing indian runner ducks helps control slugs

The famous Indian running duck, a species of duck especially fond of gastropods and other soil insects, is a real asset for the gardener wanting to get rid of a large slug population quickly. These cheerful palmipeds spend the whole day searching every nook and cranny of the garden for any mollusks they can find.

To welcome them, you’ll need a yard big enough to let them roam, and a shelter to protect them from predators (martens, foxes, weasels) at night.

You’ll also need to keep an eye on them, and even fence off certain sections of the vegetable garden, to prevent them from attacking your lettuces (which would be the last straw!), and trampling your flowerbeds. We’ll also need to consider the provision of a small pond, essential to their needs.

To find out more, read my “thesis” on Indian racing ducks.

 

B. Slug-eating hens

slug predator hens

Chickens don’t eat the big slugs (orange loaches, for example), but they have no problem tackling the smaller ones (small grey slugs, for example).

The problem with chickens is that it’s hard to let them roam free in your garden, making it easier for them to hunt slugs: you need to protect them from predators (unless you bring them back to the henhouse every evening, of course), but you also need to protect your vegetable garden from these damsels.

A good idea, sometimes seen on Facebook, is to build a wire tunnel through the garden, where they can hunt gastropods without harming the crops, and without the risk of escaping or being bitten by a fox.

 

C. Nematode slug predators

Photo of a natural anti-slug ph nematode

A solution you’re probably also familiar with is the use of commercial nematodes. Ph nematodes are parasitic worms specialized in slug predation. They enter through their respiratory orifices and kill them from the inside.

Disseminating ph nematodes in the garden does indeed seem to eradicate slugs on a massive scale.

Once all the slugs have been killed, they will die for lack of prey, and the treatment will have to be repeated.

To find out more, read the specific article on ph anti-slug nematodes

 

 

III. Why is the difference between natural and adopted predators crucial? Which slugs should you choose to control in your garden?

slugs eaten by ground beetles

How does a natural ecosystem regulate itself?

How are different animal and plant species “contained” and regulated, to enable the sustainable coexistence of different species within a natural environment?

This is mainly due to theeternal prey-predator balance.

 

To put it even more bluntly: if one year, the wild rabbits start to abound, the fox population will also grow (as the foxes will find their prey more easily). The rabbit population will then start to fall, eventually leading to a fall in the fox population (less prey), and so the rabbit population will start to increase again the following year, etc …

In short, in a natural ecosystem with no outside intervention, prey and predator populations are self-regulating.

the imbalance created by Indian racing ducks

So, if our vegetable garden is home to natural slug predators in sufficient quantity and diversity, they will naturally regulate their numbers, while maintaining a balance between the predator’s population and the population of its prey (slugs are often not its only prey).

The more representative our garden is of our region’s natural ecosystem (i.e. the natural environment of the predator in question), the more likely natural slug predatorswill settle in.

 

Now let’s imagine we put a pair of Indian racing ducks in our garden. They will eradicate slugs from the garden, but not only: many other insects, including auxiliary insects and even insects that are slug predators themselves (carabids, for example) (not forgetting other natural predators that will go away for lack of prey). Above all, ducks are not unique to this environment: there is no balance between these predators and their prey: they have been arbitrarily introduced into an environment to which they did not originally belong.

indian runner ducks help control slugs in permaculture

Ditto for chickens, ditto for nematodes. They do not belong to the natural environment in question.

The fact is, you’ll apparently have no more slug problems.

But, if one day you give away your ducks because they eat your salads and seriously damage the garden’s biodiversity (biodiversity being an essential element of a permaculture garden, let’s not forget), your slug problem will magically reappear! And you’ll have to wait between 2 and 5 years to find a lasting solution to the problem without going through the “adopted predators” stage. This is just my opinion, but the use of adopted predators to solve a slug problem seems “artificial” to me, and doesn’t correspond, in my opinion, to the philosophy of permaculture, where the aim seemed to me to be to understand the synergies of living things, in order to eventually make good use of them to maximize perennial harvests.

 

 

IV. What other solutions are there to intelligently regulate a slug population in permaculture?

lumache di gusci d'uovo

Attracting natural slug predators takes time, of course. There are many other very interesting solutions, which you can find by browsing the articles in the “slug control” section of my site, accessible via the menu. Here, too, and following the same philosophy, a grandmother’s tip for clever slug control.

Even better! Follow scrupulously these 7 steps聽馃憞

This is the action plan I devised following the findings of dozens of scientific studies on the subject.

I owe the success of my cabbages, salads, strawberries and cucurbits to it.

Click here to find out more:

the seven steps to definitly get rids of slugs

 

Conclusion

slugs have many predators

Natural slug predators have always helped to regulate slug populations in natural ecosystems. Reproducing these natural ecosystems (a garden that’s not too “clean”, with a good diversity of regional plants) in your garden is one of the best ways to attract these natural predators of slugs, and manage to regulate the population of these gastropods after 2 to 5 years.

 

Conversely, the inclusion of “adopted” slug predators, veritable extermination machines, veils the problem by concealing what is merely the symptom of an imbalance between prey and natural predators (among others). The introduction of this external element unbalances a long-established system. The synergies of living organisms are undermined by this super-predator, and this mode of operation, based on “hiding the symptom” rather than “healing the syndrome (systemic imbalance)”, doesn’t seem to me to be in line with the philosophy of permaculture.

If you’d like to know other ways of dealing with slugs intelligently, I recommend the following articles: anti-slug plants, or prevention through plants,
slugs: methods to avoid

as well as copper: test and comparison

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