Slugs are capable of causing destruction on your farm. These slow moving molluscs with an avaricious appetite for vegetables can chomp away at your entire cabbage or sukumawiki field leaving you with frayed leaves. They bore unsightly and irregularly shaped holes on leaves, while leaving films of a sheeny, gooey mucous in their trail. The end result, at least in this market, is a jarred leaf pockmarked with what seems like bullet holes; an unaesthetic veggie that would only serve to nauseate the buyer. \u201cThey are, especially rife in the wet seasons,\u201d says Jeremiah, a farmer in Nyandarua county, adding \u201cAt one recent instance, some farmers barely harvested anything.\u201d\u00a0 Slugs, notes the National Plant Protection Centre (NPPC) of the Royal Government of Bhutan, do most of their damage at night and on wet, cloudy days. In warm and wet climates slugs and snails can be active all year. \u201cDuring the day they hide in dark, moist sites under decaying leaves, low growing plants, dirt clods, pots or debris,\u201d states the NPPC. \u201cSlugs are also quite capable of burrowing into the soil by following decayed plant roots, cracks, worm tunnels and along boards surrounding raised beds. These pests are also excellent climbers and can be seen quite high in plants\u201d.\u00a0 Wet parts of the country are most likely to suffer attacks by these pestilent molluscs. In recent years, parts of Nyandarua county have reported sightings of slugs in vegetable farms. \u201cIt is a persistent problem, but it depends, also on the season,\u201d David Gichuki, the Sub-County Agricultural Officer in Kinangop says. \u201cYou\u2019d get them, but rarely. These days they\u2019re being reported regularly. Climate change is a likely cause of the proliferation,\u201d Gichuki told Agribiz.\u00a0 He adds that the slugs aren\u2019t picky eaters. \u201cThey eat almost anything so long as it is green. They\u2019ll eat anything from carrots to cabbages, kale and potato vines. They\u2019re not host specific,\u201d he says.\u00a0 Slugs, notes Bhutan\u2019s Department of Agriculture, are best described as snails without shells. They are soft bodied, generally brownish or grayish, with eye stalks, and vary in size from a quarter of an inch to two inches or longer.\u00a0 \u201cSlugs leave a silvery slime trail that they secrete (mucus) as they move. This mucus is also used as the slugs navigation system, as slugs will find their way back to their tunnels and feeding sites by following their mucus trail.\u201d It adds that most slugs live underground, while the ones that can be seen feeding above ground are only approximately five per cent of the total slug population. Cool weather, rain and fog is the best weather for slugs since they don\u2019t have an outer shell to protect them, they may dry out in dry and warm weather. Humans can be infected by accidental consumption and contact with slugs and snails in fresh produce, according to NPPC. The slime from these animals can contain nematodes and may also constitute a disease risk. Common predators of slugs, include hedgehogs, birds, toads and ground beetles. Some farmers have been known to use salt, which they pour on the slugs to kill them. The agricultural officer, however, discourages this method, as salt has a long lasting effect of diminishing the soil quality. Several chemical control methods have been tried, with varying degrees of success. Gichuki says a commonly deployed method of controlling slugs is by luring them to a common ground, and then destroying them. \u201cNormally, we attract them using alcohol to one small point. This could be an area measuring, say, five by five metres. Once they throng the spot, you are then able to spray them with a small amount of chemical,\u201d he explains.\u00a0 This is an efficient, safe and cost effective method of controlling the vermin. It is a particularly helpful approach, especially in the absence of financial muscle to invest heavily in chemicals.\u00a0 Overall, the agricultural officer says the problem calls for the cooperation of farmers and agricultural officers in a region. \u201cWe have been conducting demos, showing the farmers how to control these pests,\u201d he says, noting that some parts of Magumu and Githabai in the county have reported a higher incidence of the pest. Gichuki, however, says that the problem has not reached crisis levels yet. Other methods of slugs control, include elimination of their habitats and hiding places, use of repellents, such as wood ashes, mulching and use of predators like chickens and ducks roam the vegetable garden. You may also pick the slugs by hand and destroy them, but one is advised to wear gloves for the exercise.