Have You Been Slimed?
How to get slug slime off your hands

By Marion Owen, Fearless Weeder for PlanTea, Inc. and
Co-author of Chicken Soup for the Gardener's Soul


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One day, while I was out in the garden, I heard the phone ring. I ducked into the basement to answer it.

"Marion, my daughter's been squishing slugs all morning and I can't get the slime off her hands. I've tried everything!" In the background I could hear small, muffled whimpers.

When it comes to handling slugs, I'm a glove person myself. But it doesn't change the fact that making contact with slug slime is like connecting with Super Glue, though it's two steps higher on the gross scale.

Back to the frantic mom. "Wash her hands with powdered Boraxo Soap," I told her. Fifteen minutes later, the phone rang with happy news. "It worked!"

During the gardening season, not a day goes by when I don't deal with slugs in some way. Even non-gardeners can get into the act. For example, here's a quiz you can try on your friends:

What animal smells with its body,
has more teeth than a shark,
and can glide without difficulty over glass shards,
propelled by the rhythmic contractions
of a single muscular foot?

If you need more clues, offer these: Its blood is green, and while other animals wrap themselves in fur, feathers or scales, this animal protects its body with a layer of slime.

About that slime, you may (or may not!) find it interesting that slug mucus absorbs water, which helps prevent dehydration--a serious threat to a creature with no hard shell or other protective covering. This is one reason that slug slime is nearly impossible to wash off. Rubbing your hands under running water only makes things worse. In addition to using Boraxo, rub your hands together in much the same way you'd remove rubber cement. The slime can be rolled into a ball and thrown away.

Land snails used to live in the ocean, but moved ashore. Since nobody told them otherwise, they expected the land to be as wet as the water. We all make mistakes. -- Will Cuppy, How to Attract the Wombat

So why would you want to even handle a slug? Well, one of the best ways to get rid of slugs, it to pick them. (NOTE: It is been suggested that for each slug captured by a gardener, another 20 go undetected!) Picking slugs means to physically remove them from the premises. The prime objective here is not to get over squeamish tendencies, but to reduce the breeding population. Fewer adults means fewer offspring. Got it?

Prime picking time is early in the morning, in the cool of the evening or anytime it's drizzly, foggy or raining. Arm yourself with chopsticks, spoons, fingers, forks, pinchers, tongs, long tweezers, scissors, pencil, trowels, backhoes, gloves--whatever it takes.

Plop any captives into a jar filled with soapy water, which will prevent them from slipping over the top. For added measure, use a jar with a screw top, as it's been reported that slugs can push with sufficient force to pop the lid off a yogurt container. Now what you do with the slugs after capturing them is up to you!

Slugs don't like lattes! To learn about chemical and nontoxic slug and snail baits, click here.

Of course, slug traps offer another passive approach to pest control. One time-honored device is the beer trap. Use your imagination: Lure slugs with grapefruit rinds, boards, melon rinds, overturned flower pots...

And keep the Boraxo Soap handy!

Oh, one more thing. For a fascinating booklet that's fit to display on any gardener's coffee table, check out The Western Society of Malacologists Field Guide to the Slug, published by Sasquatch Books.

Happy sliming!

Thanks for visiting and please stop by again. I'll put the coffee on!

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