Sunday, 19 June 2016

Slug menace: Part II. Slugs indoors

We have lately found, to our cost, that slugs can be destructive to other things besides plants. Slugs and electronic components are a very bad combination.

Making a tidy, low-maintenance slug barrier
It all started about a year ago when our dishwasher blew up one morning. Pressed the button to power it up and BANG! Smell of burning electrics. Dead washing machine. The engineer who came to repair it found the main PCB (printed circuit board - i.e. the 'brain' of the machine) blown and something, possibly a fried slug, on its surface.

Bad luck, we thought, but then, nearly a year later, exactly the same thing happened again.

There's just no way of avoiding the occasional slug in the house out here. The main importer appears to be one of the cats, who brings them in on his tail. Why do the slimy little swines seem to be drawn irresistibly to the inner workings of the dishwasher? It must be that their keen sense of smell pulls them towards particles of food within the machine. I wonder if the green colour of the PCB has anything to do with it?

Anyway, I was determined that this should not happen again. The first approach that occurred to me was to strew some rock salt underneath the machine. Duly done. But, considering further, I realised that might not be the best solution.

For one thing, salt is highly hygroscopic. That is, it draws moisture out of the air. So I wondered how long it would take the crystals lying under the dishwasher to 'melt' and how much of a mess that would create.

What a mess!
Next morning, I pulled the machine back out and sure enough, most of the crystals had already dissolved in atmospheric H2O, leaving tiny pools of strong saline solution all over the floor. Not only that, but the salt had claimed its first victim: a marauding slug, which was exaquanated and lay there like a deflated balloon.

Of course, slugs and the means of repelling them have been much on our minds recently, so I soon realised that copper tape was the better answer. First thought was to apply the tape directly to the floor tiles, but that probably wouldn't have worked so well with sliding the feet of the machine over top, to get it back in its slot.

Functional and attractive
Hence, I give you the Slug Defender MkI. A piece of sheet plastic cut to fit neatly under the machine, with holes for the feet (keeping it in position when the machine is moved) and an attractive Art Deco grid of slug-repelling copper tape applied to the top surface.

Slugs not welcome here

We didn't have long to wait for confirmation of its effectiveness. On each of the following two mornings I've found a fresh slug trail leading from the cat mat over towards the dishwasher. The beasts then probed their way around the perimeter of the Slug Defender before shearing off and finding a stray salt crystal in the corner that finished them off.

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