I am often asked about how to control populations of slugs and earwigs in gardens without using the usual chemicals.
This is particularly important in food growing gardens as we do not want to have poisons in the food we are eating.
You may not realise it but both earwigs and slugs do provide benefit to your gardens as they prefer decomposing plant material to living plants
so if you are clean and tidy and there are no rotting plants available then they will do damage to your growing plants.
When you are weeding if you leave some weeds on the soil to break down naturally then the two pests will become assets.
Sprinkling lawn mowing clippings onto gardens is another way of using what many consider a waste product to benefit.
One precaution with that is if the lawn grasses are seeding, as you would then be putting a lot of new grass weeds into your gardens to germinate later.
If the slugs and earwigs (You can include with them slaters or as some call them wood lice) are a real problem then you could try the following.
I learnt about this method a long time ago and have often suggested to gardeners to use it.
What you need is some strips of 3-plywood or similar about 250-300mm long and about 150mm wide.
These are laid down on the soil in areas where you are having problems with the pests.
Now you take a trigger sprayer and mix two parts bleach to one part water.
During the day you fold back the slats of ply onto their far edge and see what is hiding under them.
If you have some of the pests you wish to control simply give them a spray of your bleach and lay the ply back down on top of them.
Repeat the same process regularly until you have the pest population under control.
Slugs and snails cannot tolerate copper as it makes them dehydrate and die.
If either pest comes into contact with copper they will not pass over the barrier it creates.
So this can be used to protect seedings from being their evening meal.
I suggest placing untreated sawdust around the seedlings you wish to protect then spraying the sawdust and seedlings with Wallys Liquid Copper and Raingard added.
Much safer than using toxic poisons to kill them and better for the safety of your pets and wild life.
There is another slug like pest which is commonly called the Cherry Slug or Pear Slug as it feeds on these trees during the summer period when they are active.
They start about November to December in most areas and can be seen as a small black slimy slug on the foliage which they are eating.
If you do not treat this first generation then in January to February there will be a second large wave of them and damage will correspondingly increase.
The best solution is to spray the foliage with Wallys Liquid Copper with Raingard added as they can not handle copper either.
Another one that can be used for snails and slugs is the mineral iron.
There is a slug and snail bait on the market that uses chelate iron as the killing component which means it’s fairly safe for pets and wild life.
You can make a slug and snail bait yourself by soaking bran in a solution of sulphate of iron and water or if you have available use chelate iron.
Add to this yeast which is what attracts the pests and they will eat the bran which now contains iron and die as a result.
There is one pest that you will never gain complete control of if they are in your area and that is ants.
Many of the ant baits on the market are only effective for a little while as the ants become bait shy to them realising that the bait is what is killing them.
Many years ago I found a very old formula that ants never seem to wake up to the fact it is killing them.
We call it Granny Mins Ant Bait and the container has a combination of Borax and Boric Acid with the recipe on how to make it up.
The product is very inexpensive selling for about $7.00 and you just dissolve the jars contents in hot water and add the required amount of sugar and honey. It makes just about a litre of bait.
Stir well and place the mixture in small jar lids wherever you see ants.
Top up the lids as they empty till there is no more ant activity.
The bait should only be used outdoors and if you have any concern for pets then put a small amount of liquid ant bait into small jars and lay then on their sides on the ground.
The small amount of ant bait used is not likely to be harmful to pets but better safe than sorry.
If ants are inside your home then the easy most effective way is to set up one or more of those insect cans that release pyrethrum spray every few minutes.
As long as that can is operating and even for a few weeks after it has emptied no ants will come into that area.
They detect that there is pyrethrum around and know it is not good for them.
Cockroaches inside your kitchen are a curse for some people and the easy way to control them safely is to sprinkle Borax powder behind the fridge and stove.
Only use in safe places such as these two areas so it is well away from food stuffs and pets.
The cockroaches walk though the borax powder and being very clean insects they clean themselves of the powder which kills them.
Products mentioned are from Wallys Range of products and can be found in some garden shops or by Mail Order on www.0800466464.co.nz
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