Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Invasion of the giant slugs

The warm, wet summer has been ideal for slugs. I haven't been surprised that they have eaten plants in my garden - but I was upset to find half a dozen in my kitchen a few nights ago.

My kitchen is at the back of the house and the door opens straight onto the garden, so they can't have found it too difficult to get in, but I was nevertheless disgusted to find them there.

Slugs make me feel sick. I think it all dates back to a childhood incident when I knocked a piece of bark off a dead tree stump to find a huge slug in the middle. He had obviously eaten his way into the log when he was tiny but grown to gigantic proportions living off the insides of the rotten wood. I was totally grossed out and would not go back into the garden for days in fear of the giant slug.

As an adult, and a witch, I realise I should get over this reaction. Witches are supposed to love nature and all her creatures. And, although it might only be in fiction by people like Roald Dahl and Shakespeare that we mix up potions from eyes of toads and tongues of newts, we are supposed to be hardy folk with strong stomachs.

My stomach was distinctly queasy.

I would not want to harm a living creature simply because it had inadvertently trespassed into my kitchen, so I overcame my revulsion, gently coaxed each slug onto a piece of paper and evicted them back into the garden. Job done - or so I thought.

The next night they were back. And the next...

I decided to seek the advice of a knowledgeable friend - who knew exactly what to do.

Apparently, the reason the slugs were returning to my kitchen is that they leave a scent trail behind them as they go, which other slugs follow. So once a slug had ventured into my home, it was inevitable that others would too. You have to break that trail to deter them and the best way to do that is with salt, which slugs hate.

What I had to do is surround my house in a circle of salt.

"Are you sure that's to keep out slugs?" I asked. "Isn't that for zombies?"

"Well, it should keep them out too," my friend said, thoughtfully.

"That's good," I replied. Trying very hard not to think about giant zombie slugs.

I bought a large jar of salt and went home to try it out.

I have cast a few circles in my time, but never as a ward against slugs.

Should I bless the salt first, I wondered before I began creating the circle. Does it matter if I cast the circle deosil (clockwise) as usual or widdershins (anti-clockwise) as a banishment? Should I say any words, like "I do banish and cast ye out, ye slugs and snails and creatures of slime. Go back to your leafy pleasant realms to munch on plants and leave my home now and for all time to come"?

I discussed this with my partner. "This isn't a spell," he said. "We just want to keep the slugs out."

I thought it was better to be safe than sorry.

Well, magic or otherwise, it seemed to work. No slugs - or zombies - have entered my house since it was protected in its circle of salt.

I should mention that salt kills plants, so don't go scattering it on them or near them. I was lucky in that my house is surrounded by a concrete path on which I could easily put the salt.

To kill slugs humanely and in a way that doesn't harm the environment - especially in gardens - leave out saucers of beer. Slugs are very attracted to beer, they fall in, get drunk and drown.

However, I hope I never have the need to try either method again.


Anonymous said...

You need a hedgehog to visit your garden.Have you got a spell to entice one in!Glad the salt worked. It's not funny when we have these 'phobias', mine is spiders,pretty common dislike.Have the foxes been around lately? Have a good day.

Badwitch said...

Hedgehogs do eat slugs so that is an excellent idea, but I think the foxes may have kept hedeghogs out of my garden this year. I will look into it further though. Thanks for the suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Kudos for going with the gentle way of discouraging the slugs.

Myself, i get queasy around earwigs, these creepy little bugs that wiggle and have tiny pincers on their bums. I don't know why but they make my skin crawl. Fortunately, they do stay outside (with the zombies).

Badwitch said...

I do agree earwigs are a bit creepy. Luckily the story that they crawl inside your ears if you go to sleep outside is a myth!

Professor Humperdink III said...

Maybe these slugs will make you feel better about the critters:

Badwitch said...

Thank you so much for sending the link to the Tarot of the Slugs. It is wonderful. I must say having seen so many slugs this summer, I am getting over my fear and even think they are OK in the right place - the garden :)