Kitimat has been dealing with an abundance of slugs this year due to the cooler weather and higher levels of rain that have been present this summer.
Kitimat resident Brian Lennox said he’s been noticing them everywhere, and said it’s because they thrive in cool, wet temperatures.
“I’ve never had a problem before. I’d see the odd one, you know, but this is the worst summer I think I can remember for lack of sunshine,” Lennox said. “One week of good weather these slugs would disappear, basically.”
And with that, the slugs disappeared a bit in the past week with the warm weather, but are likely to return with the coming rain.
Lennox said they come out mostly at night because of their distaste for heat and light, and he and his wife have been out every night with flashlights trying to get rid of all the slugs in their garden.
He said it’s easy to get rid of them by sprinkling a little bit of salt on them, and given that they’re mostly water, they shrivel up and die in about 15 seconds.
“You can see them shrink right in front of eyeballs. It’s rather gruesome, you don’t do this if you’re squeamish, believe me.”
This method, however, is frowned upon by some, and they choose to put sharp, crushed-up rock or eggshells around the edge of their garden to deter the slugs. Others place coffee grounds around the plants or spray the plants with coffee water, and slugs are more apt to avoid your plants.
Lennox said the record number he found in his garden in one night was 105 slugs, and they’ve been destroying his garden.
“They can kill a lettuce plant in one night with no problem at all. What they don’t eat, they slime it, and it’s uneatable,” Lennox said. “What you do is you’ll kill two or three, then come back another few minutes there’s another two or three of them.”
Lettuce, beans, char, cabbage, and some flowers seem to be the food of choice for the slugs, but Lennox said they don’t seem to be attracted to his tomatoes or blueberries.
Sue Jay, a local gardener, said she’s been having trouble with them too, but she hasn’t been as dedicated to getting rid of them as Lennox has.
“Yes, there have been lots of slugs, but because the weather has been so wet and very conducive to supporting the environment that slugs like, I have let them win the game,” Jay said.
Adult slugs can lay anywhere between zero and between 50 to 70 eggs each, and the babies hatch quickly and begin eating plants straight away. They can travel pretty far and pretty quickly for their size, and are also able to climb vertical surfaces, meaning they can completely cover and devour most plants and vegetables.
Their slime, as well, is both sticky and slippery, and Lennox said it’s an absolute pain to try to clean up. He added that no ordinary hose will do the job effectively, because the slime seems to absorb water.
“You need power washer for the darn things!”
Lennox said they usually don’t come out this much until September, when the weather is usually rainier, but by that point, most people have picked or brought all their vegetables in, so the slugs aren’t so much of an issue.
“They don’t seem to have any natural enemies, either,” Lennox said. “I haven’t ever heard of any birds eating them. I haven’t ever heard of any animals eating them.”
One of the things slugs are good for is composting, and turning organic matter into useable soil.
“If they would stay in the compost heap,” Lennox said, “that would be great!”
Lennox said the best time to see them around on the sidewalks is first thing in the morning, as they’re all headed back to their hiding spots for the day, ready to come back and attack some more plants the next evening.