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Slugs and Worms: Ask The Oracle

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Here is a good two-part question a reader asked on my face book page:


QUESTION: Can you give me a natural snail deterrent and also a natural way to keep my tomatoes from getting those nasty green worms that destroy everything?

A Tomato Hornworm (which is Actually a Caterpillar that Turns Into a Moth Later in it's Lifecycle) dines on Live Tomato Foliage.  Depending on the Region You Are In, these pests May Be Quite Common and Destructive to a Tomato Crop.  BT, Spinosad and Pyrethrin Sprays Can be Quite Effective Natural Controls.


ANSWER: I suggest an all natural slug and snail bait formulated with iron and phosphorus (there are a few brands on the market, two of the main ones are Sluggo and Slug Magic).  The slugs and snails are attracted to it because of the iron thinking it's a green leafy plant and when ingested the product causes them to stop eating and die; the uneaten portion breaks down into fertilizer for your plants.  Hand picking the obvious culprits at night and/or after a rain can be very helpful too (I usually just step on the ones I find).  There are also beneficial nematodes (tiny, soil-dwelling predators that target slugs, and/or grubs depending on the species) which you can get for slug control, just mix with water per the directions and spray on the soil surface.  I suggest using both for optimum control, more specifically the bait if your main problem is snails and not slugs.  Apply the nematodes early in the season after your last frost.  Slug & snail bait should be applied every few weeks during the growing season.  Both products are available here:
Slug Magic Slug and Snail Bait - CLICK HERE to Buy or Read More!
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Slug and Snail Bait
Slug Guard Beneficial Nematodes - CLICK HERE to Buy or Read More!
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Slug Guard Beneficial Nematodes

For the worms I would say BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis) which is made from an all natural bacteria that you spray on plants being affected by worms or caterpillars; it makes them sick when they eat the leaves and they die. Again hand picking can go a long ways if you aren't too squeamish.  You could also try Spinosad which is a similar product made from a different bacterium.  For faster knockdown use a formulation of Pyrethrum which is a naturally occurung insecticide extracted from the Pyrethrum daisy, most commonly sold as "Pyrethrin" which is very effective but has been concentrated, purified and stabilized.  These products are available here:

Bonide Spinosad Ready To Use Spray - CLICK HERE to Buy or Read More!
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Spinosad RTU Spray
Bonide Pyrethrin Ready To Use Spray - CLICK HERE to Buy or Read More!
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Pyrethrin RTU Spray
Bonide BT Natural Caterpillar Killer Concentrate - CLICK HERE to Buy or Read More!

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BT Caterpillar Killer Concentrate



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Bonide Tomato & Veggie 3-in-1 Spray - CLICK HERE to Buy or Read More!
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Gardener's Supply Co. Organic Tomato Fertilizer, 5 Lb - CLICK HERE to Buy or Read More!
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Serenade Disease Control Ready To Use 32oz Spray - CLICK HERE to Buy or Read More!
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Stacking Tomato Ladders, Set of 6 - CLICK HERE to Buy or Read More!

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