How to spot
There are several signs including the instantly recognisable slimy, silvery trail. Other tell-tale signs are ragged holes in the leaves of plants and stems of young plants completely bitten through. In really bad cases all the soft leaves are eaten leaving just the tough leaf veins.
A huge range of plants are affected but seedlings and soft leafed plants are particular targets. They can also munch on tulip bulbs and potato tubers.
How to control
Sadly, there is no one ‘quick fix’ for these pernicious pests so it’s best to employ a range of different tactics to deal with them. This will depend on how much time you have available and how determined you are to keep them at bay. Patrolling the garden at night with a torch to find, collect and remove from your garden is one way.
It seems they’re not keen on copper and so surrounding plants with copper tape, widely available from Garden Centres and Plant Nurseries, may help deter them. Some people have had success surrounding the plants they particularly want to protect with sacrificial seedlings such as lettuce that slugs and snails particularly like.
The idea is to get your prized plant to the stage where leaves and stems have toughened up to the point where it’s too tough to be of interest to the pests. Encouraging wildlife into the garden is another natural way of control. Hedgehogs and birds in particular are the gardener’s great friends when it comes to controlling pests.