Statewide Slug Monitoring Project

Adapted from C.O.R.N. 2024-17 by Dr. Kelley Tilmon

As we move into June, we continue to receive reports of slug damage on soybeans across Ohio. Slugs are more likely to be found in no-till fields where cover crops are grown. Slugs feed directly on the soybean, causing both seed and foliar damage that can result in complete loss of the plant. Because slugs are nocturnal, when you scout your fields, slugs may not be present; however, you may see signs of slug feeding such as holes in the cotyledon or slime trails. You are more likely to find slugs actively present in your field if you scout early in the morning or on cloudy/rainy days.

Soybean fields that were planted within the last 2 weeks into no-till fields should be scouted for slug damage. Slugs can cause significant damage to young soybean plants at the VE stage compared to older plants that can outgrow the damage. If you notice poor emergence and holes in the cotyledons, slugs may be feeding on your plants. Additional scouting is necessary to confirm slug activity before management tactics, such as baits or replanting, are implemented. To learn more about slugs a newly updated fact sheet is available and can be viewed here.

One of our research objectives this year is to better understand slug populations in Ohio. To do this, we are participating in a multi-state project funded by the United Soybean Board, to monitor slugs in soybean fields across the region. Fields are monitored using shingle traps for 9 weeks (3 weeks before plant, and 6 weeks after plant). The data collected from this study will allow us to have a better understanding of the slug variations in Ohio and across the region. Weekly results are being posted in the newsletter, but it is important to note that a low county average does not mean slugs are not present in your county. If you planted soybeans into no-till fields, your fields should be scouted for slugs.

Currently, we are monitoring slugs in 12 counties across Ohio. Over the past week, the average number of slugs in some counties increased. Wayne County had the highest average of 6.2 slugs/shingle over the past week, up from 1.7 the previous week. The majority of counties in Ohio continue to report low numbers of slugs under the shingle traps; however, if you recently planted soybean into a no-till field, make sure you scout your fields, even if your county has a low average.

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