Bugman: Diatomaceous earth deters snails

I recently planted a raspberry bush and it started dying almost as soon as I planted it. There were a few brown leaves on the plant to begin with. I added sulfur to the dirt as they suggested and watered twice a day. My friend suggested there might be bugs eating it. I dug near the plant and there were white slugs about 1 inch long. I’ve also found them in another part of the garden. I was told they are hard to eradicate organically. I’m not going to use pesticides at this point. I’m a novice gardener and starting out small. – Alice V.


Answer: Don’t use snail or slug poisons. They are deadly to dogs if they eat them. Not all types of snail baits, but many of them. Just put some food-grade diatomaceous earth on the soil surrounding the plants and it will keep the slugs away. If it gets washed or blown away, you may have to replace it, but it is inexpensive, safe and effective. You can get diatomaceous earth at a feed store.

Make sure you use food-grade, which is pure diatomaceous earth. Don’t use brands with any other ingredients in it and never use swimming-pool grade. It is manufactured differently and can be dangerous.

Q: My small backyard has been taken over by what I believe are stable flies. I have two large dogs that live outdoors, and the flies are constantly on them. This has never happened before, and nothing I have tried has helped. Can you offer any suggestions to get rid of these pesty, biting flies? – Diane S.

A: I would need more information as to what they are. Do you live in a rural area or urban area? You may be in a area where the flies live and not be able to control them if they are breeding off your property.

I would recommend using Greenbug for Pets on the dogs as a repellent. You can get it at www.green

Send me a picture of the flies if you can, or better yet, send me some flies and I will identify them. I still ID pest bugs for the public, and the information on how to send them is on my Web site at www.askthebugman.com.