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Suburban Hunter: A Story about How to Get Rid of Garden Slugs

Updated on April 16, 2013
A slug eating plants.
A slug eating plants. | Source

In the suburbs, wild things lurk. When we left rural life and moved to the suburbs of a city, we figured our days dealing with wildlife - such as the monster spiders that grow in southeast Kansas - were over.

We were wrong.

Here in the suburbs, it’s the animals - not the people - that rule. And what’s worse, unlike our rural counterparts, we suburbanites don’t have the oral tradition passed from generation to generation to help us deal with the varied living creatures that pester us day and night.

And the night is always worse than the day.

But help arrived this week when my mother, who lives in the suburbs of another city, came to visit.

Every night since the weather warmed, our patio has been besieged by an army of slugs. The slimy creatures come in various sizes. The small ones look more like little snails without shells. They almost border on cute. The large ones look like something out of a horror picture.

We would hide in our house, peer through the windows, and watch slugs as big as Buicks leaving their silvery slime trails across the brick of our patio. I knew the seeds I had planted in my flower garden would soon be emerging, only to be consumed by the hungry horde.

We discussed putting out slug bait but decided against it because of the other wildlife – daytime dwellers mostly – that live in and around our yard. I couldn’t stand the thought of bunnies or chipmunks dying agonizingly after having dined on our slug bait.


And the worst of it was that our new dog, Laika, has discovered the inexpressible joy of rolling in slugs, squishing them into her long, white coat, and then coming in to spend the night in the house, smelling of slug innards and soil. Giving a dog a bath at 11 p.m. is not my idea of a good time.

So, we were left hopeless and helpless against the ever growing menace. My husband would bravely put Laika on a leash every night and take her in the backyard, carefully tip-toeing around the slimy slugs and hurrying Laika to do her business, so he could retreat to the relative safety of the house.

Then my mom visited, and as is the heritage of the rural country, she brought with her the knowledge of the suburbs. Salt, she reminded us, would rid us of our nightly horror. So she and my husband, salt and flashlight in hand, spent a couple of nights seeking and destroying the plant eating creatures.

Now my husband has a new hobby. After about 10 p.m., our neighbors can sit back with their favorite beverage and put their feet up. There, from the comfort of their own homes, they can watch the Great Suburban Hunter seek his prey in our backyard with his flashlight and salt shaker. I am sure, over time, the number of slugs salted each night will diminish, and human and canine kind (at least in our part of the ‘burbs) will again be safe from the slug menace.

But it is only a matter of time until another part of creation’s flora or fauna emerges from the masses to pester us peace-loving suburbanites. And mom doesn’t visit for another six months.


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