Slugs are slimy, soft-bodied, gray or mottled, legless mollusks. They can cause serious damage to young corn and soybean plants in no-till fields.
In this weekly Pest Watch update, learn why no-till farmers should be on the lookout for silver slime.
They're slithery, slimey and they may be making a smorgasbord of your crops.
Slugs are becoming a problem this year in no-till corn and soybean fields, and it all boils down to timing, says Ron Hammond, entomologist with The Ohio State University Extension.
"This year, because of the extreme warm temperatures and warm winter we had, we had predicted that the slugs would probably hatch out and begin their feeding two to three weeks earlier, right about the time most of the planting was going to occur," he says.
In Ohio, slug activity usually peaks in late May and early June, Hammond says. But just last week, he started receiving reports of slug activity from no-till growers, crop consultants and Extension educators.
"What basically happened is the slugs arrived early, but the crops were planted at their normal time," Hammond says, "so it just means that there's more slug activity and feeding at the time of crop emergence, which is about the worst-case scenario."
Hear what Hammond has to say about scouting for and managing slugs:
Keep an Eye Out for Slime
Since slugs lay their eggs and hatch out on the ground, they are mainly a problem in no-till fields. They will feed on the lower leaves and stems of plants. Look for silver slime trails on plants and on the ground, as this is a telltale sign of pests. According to the AgWeb Online Field Guide, there is no established economic threshold for slugs, so fields should be treated on a case-by-case basis.
"It's really critical for growers to scout extra carefully this year, because that same amount of injury or feeding by populations of insects can be a lot worse on a real small plant than it would on a plant that had two to three weeks of growth on it," Hammond says.