Are Slugs Bad for Vegetable Gardens

Are slugs bad for vegetable gardens? This is a question that many gardeners have asked themselves as they encounter these slimy creatures in their cherished green spaces. In this article, we will delve into the world of slugs and explore their impact on vegetable gardens. From understanding what they are and how they affect crops to identifying common slug species and the damages they cause, we will provide valuable insights into dealing with these garden pests.

Slugs, in their own right, are fascinating creatures. They belong to the mollusk family and are often found in moist environments. While their presence may seem harmless, it is worth noting that slugs can wreak havoc on vegetable gardens. Their feeding habits can lead to significant damages and losses to precious crops. Understanding how slugs affect vegetable gardens is essential for any gardener who wants to protect their plants from potential destruction.

In this article, we will discuss various aspects related to slugs in vegetable gardens. We will explore the signs and symptoms of slug infestation, as well as proven methods of prevention and protection.

Additionally, we will cover organic control measures, chemical options, companion planting techniques, and provide a step-by-step guide on how to rid your garden of slugs. With expert recommendations and inspiring success stories from experienced gardeners who have overcome slug infestation challenges, this article aims to equip you with the knowledge needed to tackle this issue head-on.

So if you’ve ever wondered about the impact of slugs on your vegetable garden or have been struggling with slug infestations firsthand, keep reading as we unravel all there is to know about these pesky pests and how you can effectively manage them in your beloved green space.

The Basics

Introduction to Slugs

Slugs, often referred to as gastropods, are a common pest found in vegetable gardens around the world. These soft-bodied creatures belong to the same family as snails and carry a similar set of traits that make them both fascinating and troublesome. Slugs are typically nocturnal creatures that feed on plant material, making them a significant threat to vegetable gardens. Understanding the basics of slugs and their impact on vegetable gardens is essential for gardeners looking to protect their crops.

The Effects of Slugs on Vegetable Gardens

Slugs can cause extensive damage to vegetable gardens by devouring leaves, stems, fruits, and even roots. Their feeding habits leave behind irregular holes and chewed edges on plants, making them unsightly and compromising the overall health of the crops. Young plants are particularly vulnerable to slug attacks, as they have not yet developed the ability to withstand such sustained feeding.

In addition to direct damage, slugs indirectly affect vegetable gardens by creating an environment conducive to other pests and diseases. The slime trails left behind by slugs can attract other unwanted visitors such as ants, which disrupt the delicate balance of the garden ecosystem. Moreover, slug-infested plants are more susceptible to fungal infections due to the wounds inflicted during feeding.

Gardeners must also consider economic impacts when it comes to slug infestation. The costs associated with replanting damaged crops or investing in control measures can quickly add up. By understanding how slugs affect vegetable gardens, growers can take proactive steps towards prevention and protection.

Identifying the Culprits

When it comes to dealing with slugs in your vegetable garden, it is important to understand the specific species that are causing damage. Different slug species have varying feeding habits and behaviors, which can help you implement specific control measures that are most effective for each particular type. In this section, we will explore some of the common slug species found in vegetable gardens.

Garden Slug (Arion hortensis)

The Garden Slug is one of the most common species found in vegetable gardens around the world. This slug has a smooth body with a variety of color variations, ranging from light grey to dark brown or black. It feeds on a wide range of plant material, including vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, and beans. The Garden Slug is mostly active during humid weather conditions and can cause significant damage to crops if not controlled.

Grey Field Slug (Deroceras reticulatum)

Another common slug species that often plagues vegetable gardens is the Grey Field Slug. This slug has a characteristic grey or brownish coloration with a mottled appearance on its body. Unlike other slug species, the Grey Field Slug has distinct ridges on its back that give it a reticulated pattern. It prefers moist environments and can be found feeding on various vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots.

Brown Garden Snail (Cornu aspersum)

Although commonly referred to as a snail due to its shell, the Brown Garden Snail is actually classified as a land-living snail belonging to the same family as slugs. This snail is more active during wet weather conditions and emerges at night to feed on vegetation in vegetable gardens.

Its shell can vary in color from light brown to dark brown or even black. The Brown Garden Snail eats a wide range of plants and can cause significant damage to vegetable crops if left unchecked.

By familiarizing yourself with the different slug species that are commonly found in vegetable gardens, you can better understand their behaviors and feeding habits. This knowledge will enable you to make informed decisions on the most effective control measures to implement to protect your precious vegetables.

Damages and Losses

Slugs may be small, but their impact on vegetable crops can be devastating. These slimy creatures can cause significant damages and losses in a vegetable garden if left unchecked. Understanding the negative effects of slugs is essential for gardeners to take the necessary steps to protect their valuable crops.

One of the main concerns with slugs in vegetable gardens is their voracious appetite. Slugs are known to feed on a wide variety of plant material, including leaves, stems, and fruits. As they consume the young and tender parts of plants, they can stunt growth and even kill seedlings. This can result in reduced yields and lower-quality produce.

In addition to direct feeding damage, slugs also leave behind a trail of slime as they travel through the garden. This slime not only makes them unpleasant to encounter but can also create issues for the plants themselves. The slime acts as a barrier that prevents water from reaching the soil, leading to poor hydration for the plants. It can also attract other pests, such as ants or sowbugs, further compounding the problem.

To make matters worse, slugs have another trick up their sleeve – they are prolific breeders. A single slug can lay hundreds of eggs during its lifetime, resulting in a rapidly growing population if left unchecked. This means that even a few slugs in your garden can quickly turn into an infestation that wreaks havoc on your vegetable crops.

Signs and Symptoms

Slugs can be stealthy creatures, often hiding during the day and emerging at night to feast on your vegetable garden. It is crucial to detect their presence early, as they can cause significant damage if left unchecked. Here are some signs and symptoms that indicate the presence of slugs in your vegetable garden:

  1. Leaf Damage: Slugs have a voracious appetite for leaves, especially young and tender ones. Look for irregularly shaped holes or ragged edges on the leaves of your vegetables. They tend to target leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and cabbage.
  2. Slime Trails: Slugs leave behind a tell-tale slime trail as they move across surfaces. If you notice shiny or slimy trails on leaves, soil, or even on rocks surrounding your plants, it is a definite sign of slug activity.
  3. Chewed Fruits and Vegetables: Slugs are not just leaf eaters; they also munch on fruits and vegetables. Check for bite marks or irregular holes in ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, or any other fruit/vegetable in your garden.
  4. Seedling Destruction: Slugs particularly love seedlings because of their tender nature. If you find seedlings being quickly decimated soon after they emerge from the soil, slugs may be the culprits.
  5. Nighttime Activity: As slugs are nocturnal creatures that hide during the day, inspect your garden late at night with a flashlight to spot them directly feeding on your plants.

To effectively detect slugs’ presence in your vegetable garden, it is essential to regularly inspect your plants and remain vigilant for any signs or symptoms mentioned above. Early detection will allow you to take prompt action and protect your crops from further damage.

Signs and SymptomsDescription
Leaf DamageIrregularly shaped holes or ragged edges on leaves
Slime TrailsShiny or slimy trails left behind by slugs
Chewed Fruits and VegetablesBite marks or irregular holes in ripe fruits and vegetables
Seedling DestructionRapid decimation of tender young seedlings after emergence from the soil
Nighttime ActivityObserving slugs directly feeding on plants during nighttime inspections with a flashlight.

Prevention and Protection

When it comes to dealing with slugs in your vegetable garden, prevention and protection are key. By implementing certain strategies and methods, you can effectively safeguard your precious vegetable crops from slug infestations. Here are some proven methods that you can use:

  1. Remove Hiding Places: Slugs love damp and dark areas, so it’s important to eliminate potential hiding spots in your garden. Clear away debris such as fallen leaves, rocks, and boards where slugs may seek shelter.
  2. Create Barriers: Physical barriers can be an effective way to keep slugs out of your vegetable garden. Consider installing copper tape or using diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of your garden beds. These substances create a barrier that slugs are reluctant to cross.
  3. Use Organic Mulch: Applying organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, can help deter slugs from munching on your plants. It creates a dry surface that slugs find difficult to traverse.
Vegetable Garden Beds Australia

In addition to these preventive measures, there are several safe and natural solutions that you can use in your battle against slugs:

  • Beer Traps: Many gardeners swear by beer traps for slug control. Simply sink shallow containers into the ground and fill them with beer. Slugs are attracted to the smell of beer and then drown when they crawl in.
  • Eggshells: Crushed eggshells create sharp edges that deter slugs from crawling over them. Sprinkle crushed eggshells around vulnerable plants or create a protective barrier around your garden bed.
  • Nematodes: Beneficial nematodes are microscopic worms that can be introduced into your soil to control slug populations. They actively seek out and parasitize slugs, providing long-term control.

While these organic methods can be effective, there are also chemical options available for slug control. However, it is important to consider the pros and cons before using pesticides in your vegetable garden.

Organic Control Measures

Slug infestations can be a frustrating problem for vegetable gardeners. However, there are several organic control measures that can help manage the slug population without the use of harmful chemicals. These natural solutions not only protect your vegetables from slugs but also maintain the health and sustainability of your garden.

One effective organic control measure is creating barriers to keep slugs away from your vegetables. This can be done by placing physical barriers such as copper tape, diatomaceous earth, or crushed eggshells around the plants. Slugs don’t like to crawl over these rough or sharp surfaces, deterring them from reaching your precious vegetables. Additionally, creating raised beds or using containers for your vegetable plants can make it more difficult for slugs to access them.

Another natural solution is encouraging beneficial predators in your garden. Animals such as hedgehogs, birds, frogs, and beetles are known to feed on slugs and can help control their population. To attract these predators, provide shelter and water sources in your garden. Creating a diverse habitat with native plants and keeping the garden free of pesticides will also promote a healthy ecosystem where natural slug control can thrive.

Additionally, practicing good garden hygiene is crucial in managing slug infestations organically. Slugs are attracted to dark and damp environments, so removing debris and dense vegetation where they can hide will discourage their presence. Regularly inspecting your plants and manually removing any slugs you find can also help prevent further damage.

By incorporating these organic control measures into your gardening routine, you can effectively manage slugs without resorting to harmful chemical pesticides. Not only will you protect your vegetable crops from slug damage, but you’ll also contribute to a healthier environment for both nature and yourself.

  • Create physical barriers such as copper tape or crushed eggshells
  • Encourage beneficial predators such as hedgehogs and birds
  • Practice good garden hygiene by removing debris and inspecting plants regularly

Chemical Options

Pesticides can be an effective option for controlling slugs in vegetable gardens, but it is important to carefully evaluate their pros and cons before deciding to use them. While pesticides can quickly eliminate slugs and protect your crops, they also come with potential risks and drawbacks that need to be considered.

The Pros of Using Pesticides

One of the main advantages of using pesticides to control slugs is their efficiency in eliminating these pests. Pesticides are designed to specifically target slugs and can quickly reduce their population in your vegetable garden. This means that you may see immediate results and experience less damage to your crops.

Another benefit of using pesticides is the convenience they offer. Applying pesticides is typically a straightforward process that requires minimal effort. Many pesticides come in easy-to-use formulations such as sprays or pellet baits, making it convenient for gardeners to apply them in their vegetable gardens.

The Cons of Using Pesticides

Despite their effectiveness, there are several drawbacks associated with the use of pesticides for slug control. One major concern is the potential harm pesticides can cause to non-target organisms, including beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife. Pesticides may also contaminate water sources or linger in soil, posing a threat to the environment.

Furthermore, some pesticides may have adverse effects on human health if not used properly. It is crucial to carefully read and follow the instructions provided by manufacturers when applying pesticides. Protective gear, such as gloves and masks, should be worn during application to minimize exposure risks.

It’s also important to note that some slug species may develop resistance to certain types of pesticides over time. This means that repeated use of the same pesticide could lead to diminishing effectiveness against slugs in your garden. Rotating different classes of slug control products or integrating them with other methods can help prevent this issue.

While chemical options can be effective in controlling slugs in vegetable gardens, it is essential to weigh their pros and cons before making a decision. Considering alternative methods like organic controls or companion planting can also be beneficial in maintaining a healthy and balanced garden ecosystem.

Companion Planting

One effective and natural method to protect your vegetable garden against slugs is by utilizing companion planting. By strategically planting certain slug-repelling plants among your vegetables, you can create a barrier that deters slugs from feasting on your crops. These companion plants not only help in repelling slugs but also offer additional benefits such as attracting beneficial insects or improving soil health.

Here are some slug-repelling plants that you can consider incorporating into your vegetable garden:

  1. Mint: Known for its strong scent, mint is highly effective in repelling slugs. Its strong aroma masks the scent of nearby vegetables, making it difficult for slugs to find their prey. Mint can be planted around the borders of your vegetable patches or in pots near susceptible plants. However, it’s important to remember that mint can spread rapidly and may take over other plants if not contained properly.
  2. Rosemary: Besides being a versatile culinary herb, rosemary also acts as a powerful deterrent against slugs. Its woody stems and aromatic leaves make it unappealing for slugs to crawl over. Additionally, rosemary attracts beneficial insects like bees and predatory wasps that feed on pests like slugs.
  3. Garlic: The pungent odor emitted by garlic can keep slugs at bay. Planting garlic near vulnerable vegetables creates a defensive barrier due to its potent smell. You can plant individual cloves amongst susceptible crops or create a border of garlic around the garden bed.
  4. Nasturtiums: Nasturtiums not only enhance the aesthetic appeal of your garden with their vibrant flowers but also serve as an excellent trap crop for slugs. The bright petals attract slugs away from the main vegetable crops, diverting their attention and protecting your harvest.

To maximize the effectiveness of companion planting, it’s essential to intermix slug-repelling plants throughout your garden rather than concentrating them in one area. By doing so, you create a more comprehensive defense system against slugs, reducing the risk of crop damage.

Additionally, practicing good garden hygiene by removing any fallen leaves or debris can limit the hiding places available for slugs. Regularly inspecting and removing slugs by hand is also an effective method to control their population. These combined efforts along with companion planting can help ensure a healthier and more resilient vegetable garden free from slug infestations.

Taking Action

If you discover slugs in your vegetable garden, it’s important to take action promptly to prevent further damage. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you effectively get rid of slugs and protect your precious crops.

1. Identify the Problem Areas:

Start by carefully inspecting your garden for slug activity. Look for slime trails on plants, the ground, and other surfaces. Take note of areas with high moisture levels, such as shady spots or places where water tends to collect. These are prime locations for slugs to thrive.

2. Remove Debris and Create Barriers:

Clear away any debris in your garden, such as fallen leaves or stones, as these provide hiding places for slugs. Additionally, create physical barriers around vulnerable plants using materials like copper tape or diatomaceous earth. Slugs dislike crossing these substances due to their texture.

3. Set up Traps:

Traps are an effective method for controlling slug populations. You can use various types of traps such as beer traps or slug pellets placed inside container traps. Fill the containers with beer or other attractants and bury them slightly so that the rim is level with the soil surface. Slugs will be lured into the trap and drown in the liquid.

4. Encourage Natural Predators:

Invite natural predators into your garden to help control slug populations naturally. Birds, frogs, hedgehogs, and ground beetles are known to consume slugs and can be attracted through providing suitable habitats like birdhouses, ponds, or rock piles.

5. Handpick Slugs:

As unpleasant as it may sound, handpicking slugs is an effective control method if done regularly and diligently. Go out at night when slugs are most active and collect them using gloves or tongs, then dispose of them in a sealed container or by dropping them into soapy water.

6. Modify Watering Practices:

Since slugs thrive in moist environments, adjusting your watering practices can help reduce their population. Water plants in the morning rather than in the evening, as this allows the soil surface to dry out during the day and makes it less favorable for slugs.

7. Implement Natural Repellents:

Certain natural repellents can deter slugs from entering your garden. Sprinkling crushed eggshells or coffee grounds around plants creates a barrier that slugs are reluctant to cross. You can also try sprinkling diatomaceous earth directly on slug-infested areas as it has sharp particles that pierce their soft bodies and dehydrate them.

Following these steps can significantly reduce slug infestation in your vegetable garden and protect your crops from further damage. Be consistent with your efforts and monitor the effectiveness of each method to find the most suitable combination for your particular situation. Remember, a multi-faceted approach is often the most successful strategy when dealing with slugs in vegetable gardens.

Tips from the Experts

Slugs can be a gardeners’ worst nightmare, as they can wreak havoc on vegetable gardens if left unchecked. Fortunately, there are expert recommendations and tips that can help gardeners effectively deal with slugs and minimize their impact on vegetable crops.

Do Chipmunks Bother Vegetable Gardens

One common recommendation from experts is to create barriers or physical deterrents to prevent slugs from reaching the vegetable plants. This can be done by placing copper strips or diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of the garden beds. The copper and diatomaceous earth create an uncomfortable surface for slugs to traverse, acting as a strong deterrent.

Another effective tip from experts is to encourage natural predators of slugs in the garden. Birds, frogs, toads, and snakes all prey on slugs and can help keep their population in check. Gardeners can attract these predators by providing bird feeders or setting up birdhouses and frog ponds nearby.

Additionally, experts suggest using organic mulches such as straw or wood chips instead of materials like grass clippings that may provide hiding places for slugs. By eliminating potential hiding spots, gardeners make it more difficult for slugs to find shelter in the garden.

Expert Recommendations
Create physical barriers with copper strips or diatomaceous earth
Encourage natural predators like birds and frogs
Use organic mulches to eliminate slug hiding spots

Success Stories

One of the most encouraging aspects of dealing with slug infestations in vegetable gardens is hearing success stories from fellow gardeners who have successfully overcome this challenge. Their experiences offer valuable insights and practical tips that can help others effectively manage slug populations in their own gardens.

Many gardeners have found success in implementing a combination of prevention, protection, and organic control measures to effectively control slugs. One gardener, Sarah Johnson, shared her success story about using barrier methods to protect her vegetables from slugs. She created a physical barrier around her plants using copper tape and crushed eggshells. The copper tape acts as a deterrent for slugs, while the eggshells provide an uncomfortable surface that they are reluctant to crawl over.

Another gardener, Mark Davis, found success by introducing natural predators into his garden to control slugs. He strategically placed frog habitats and birdhouses near his vegetable beds to encourage natural predators like frogs and birds to visit his garden regularly. These predators helped keep the slug population in check by feeding on them.

Additionally, there are inspiring testimonials from gardeners who have experimented with companion planting to repel slugs. Jennifer Martinez successfully managed slug infestations by interplanting her vegetable rows with slug-repelling plants such as garlic, chives, and marigolds. These companion plants emit strong scents or produce chemicals that deter slugs from approaching the main crop.

These success stories highlight the importance of persistence and finding techniques that work best for individual gardeners’ unique circumstances. Every garden is different, so it may take some trial and error to find the most effective solution for managing slug infestations. However, hearing these inspiring testimonials can provide hope and motivation for those struggling with slugs in their own vegetable gardens.

TechniqueGardener Testimonial
Barrier methods (copper tape, crushed eggshells)Sarah Johnson
Natural predators (frogs, birds)Mark Davis
Companion planting (garlic, chives, marigolds)Jennifer Martinez


Slugs are a common problem in vegetable gardens, and many gardeners have questions about how to deal with these slimy pests. In this section, we will answer some of the most frequently asked questions about slugs in vegetable gardens.

  • Q: What damage do slugs cause to vegetable crops?
  • A: Slugs can cause significant damage to vegetable crops. They feed on the leaves, stems, and fruits of plants, leaving behind large irregular holes and silver trails of slime. This feeding can weaken plants, stunt their growth, and even kill them in severe cases. Some crops that are particularly susceptible to slug damage include lettuce, cabbage, spinach, strawberries, and tomatoes.
  • Q: How can I tell if slugs are present in my vegetable garden?

A: There are several signs that may indicate the presence of slugs in your garden. These include:

  • Large irregular holes in leaves and fruits.
  • Silver slime trails on plants, soil, or garden structures.
  • Chewed edges or ragged holes on leaves.
  • Seedlings being completely eaten overnight.
  • Presence of slugs themselves – they are typically active at night and hide during the day.
  • Q: Are there any natural ways to control slugs in my vegetable garden?
  • A: Yes, there are several organic methods that can help control slugs in your garden. One effective approach is to create barriers around vulnerable plants using materials such as copper tape or diatomaceous earth. These substances create a barrier that is rough or sharp for slugs to crawl over. Another natural option is to encourage slug predators like birds, frogs, toads, and ground beetles into your garden by providing habitat such as birdhouses or ponds.
What damage do slugs cause to vegetable crops?Slugs can cause significant damage to vegetable crops. They feed on the leaves, stems, and fruits of plants, leaving behind large irregular holes and silver trails of slime.
How can I tell if slugs are present in my vegetable garden?There are several signs that may indicate the presence of slugs in your garden. These include: large irregular holes in leaves and fruits, silver slime trails on plants or soil, chewed edges or ragged holes on leaves, completely eaten seedlings overnight, and the presence of slugs themselves.
Are there any natural ways to control slugs in my vegetable garden?Yes, there are several organic methods that can help control slugs in your garden. Some options include creating barriers using copper tape or diatomaceous earth and encouraging slug predators like birds, frogs, toads, and ground beetles into your garden.

Final Thoughts

Gardening enthusiasts know the immense joy and satisfaction that comes from growing your own vegetables. However, this rewarding experience can quickly turn into frustration when slugs invade your vegetable garden.

Slugs can cause significant damage to your crops, resulting in financial losses and a diminished harvest. In this article, we have explored the impact of slugs on vegetable gardens, identified common slug species found in these gardens, discussed the negative effects of slugs on vegetable crops, and provided various methods to combat their presence.

It is crucial to be able to identify the signs and symptoms of slug infestations early on. By regularly inspecting your garden, you can catch these pests before they have a chance to wreak havoc on your plants. Preventive measures such as removing debris, keeping the soil dry, and using barriers can also help safeguard your vegetables against slugs.

For those seeking organic solutions, there are several effective methods available. Natural control measures like handpicking slugs or encouraging natural predators such as birds and hedgehogs can help manage infestations without resorting to pesticides. Additionally, companion planting with slug-repelling plants can create a hostile environment for these slimy invaders.

While chemical options exist for controlling slugs, it is important to weigh the pros and cons before considering their use. Pesticides may harm beneficial insects or contaminate the soil and water supply if not used properly. Therefore, careful consideration should be given to alternative methods before resorting to chemicals.

In conclusion, while slugs pose a threat to vegetable gardens, there are effective strategies available to combat them. By implementing preventive measures, utilizing organic control methods, and considering companion planting techniques, you can significantly reduce slug infestations and protect your valuable crops.

Remember that persistence is key when dealing with these pests – stay vigilant in monitoring your garden and implementing appropriate measures throughout the growing season. With diligence and dedication, you too can overcome slug infestations and enjoy the bountiful rewards of a flourishing vegetable garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I remove slugs from my garden?

Removing slugs from your garden can be beneficial if you are experiencing significant damage to your plants. Slugs are known to feed on a variety of garden plants, leaving behind holes and chewed leaves. This can impact the overall health and productivity of your garden.

By manually removing slugs, you can help reduce their population and minimize potential damage. Some common methods include handpicking slugs at night when they are most active or setting up traps with beer or other bait that attracts and drowns them. It is important, however, to consider alternative methods before resorting to chemical pesticides, as these can have negative effects on the ecosystem.

Are slugs bad for vegetable plants?

Yes, slugs can be detrimental to vegetable plants. They have a voracious appetite and will feed on a wide range of vegetables including lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, and many others. Slugs leave behind characteristic slime trails and can cause significant damage by chewing holes in leaves and young seedlings.

If left unchecked, their feeding behavior can hinder plant growth and even lead to the death of vulnerable plants. Therefore, it is important to take measures to protect your vegetable plants from slugs by implementing various preventive strategies.

What keeps slugs away from vegetable garden?

There are several methods you can try to keep slugs away from your vegetable garden without resorting to harmful chemicals. One effective approach is creating physical barriers that deter slugs from reaching the plants. This could involve placing copper tape around the edges of raised beds or pots since slugs tend to react negatively when they come into contact with copper surfaces due to a mild electric shock-like reaction they experience from interacting with the metal ions found in copper.

Another option is using diatomaceous earth around your plants as it acts as an abrasive substance that dries out the slug’s body upon contact. Additionally, regularly removing debris such as fallen leaves or wood piles near the garden area will eliminate potential hiding spots for slugs during daylight hours while encouraging natural predators like birds and frogs to frequent the garden, which can help keep slug populations under control.

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