Slugs and Snails and What to Do About Them

Slug on Dandelion

If you live in a climate that’s even the slightest bit rainy or wet, then you know all too well about slugs and snails and the damage they can inflict on a garden.

The wetter, rainier and more temperate your climate is the more likely you are to have an issue with slugs. Slugs like to hide in dark shady spots in the daytime and then come out in the evening and through the night.

They’ll even come out in the daytime if it’s cool, rainy and wet enough. They have a voracious appetite for your garden. You’ll need to have an attack plan in action to defend against them.

What to do and how to combat them is always the question for many gardeners. 

Slugs and snails are similar creatures both in the “Molluscs” family and can essentially be treated the same when it come to control and eradication of them.

Brown Slug Hiding

They love Hosta, Lilies, Strawberries, Marigolds, Delphinium and so many more plants that we usually have in the garden.

For your attack plan, you can choose from a wide variety of remedies ranging from barriers to deterrents to poisons and traps. 

They can all help you deal with the slimy little icky creatures (in favourable environments slugs are sometimes quite large, up to 6″-8″ long). Over the years they have destroyed hundreds of pounds of my garden and harvests.

Remedies

Brown Slug

Thankfully, we have several choices when it comes to keeping them at bay.

At one point I was told to put Marigolds all around my garden because they repelled slugs. I planted them in front and all around my lilies in the early spring as soon as I could get them from the stores.

Well, it did work, but not as planned. The slugs loved and devoured my Marigolds!

So in the end the slugs stayed off my Lilies which is ultimately what I wanted but the Marigolds became a sacrifice and still acted as the barrier they were intended to be. 

Corry’s Slug and Snail BaitCorry's Slug And Snail Death

My old standby is Corry’s metaldehyde powderIt works well but you need to make sure your domestic pets don’t get into it.

Use it every week or so throughout your rainy season, depending on how fast the powder deteriorates. By doing this you will kill all the upcoming generations of them and not have an issue. 

Eco and Pet Friendly Pellets Garden Safe Slug and Snail Bait, 2-Pound

Iron pellets present as Ferric phosphate is the best option if you don’t want to use chemical pesticides. The iron is a natural element found in soil, so the uneaten bait just gets absorbed into the soil. 

When the slug or snail eats the iron they immediately stop eating, which instantly stops them from destroying your garden.  They will then crawl off to die within one week and there is no mess to clean up.

Beer Traps 

The slugs are attracted to the yeasty sweetness of beer or ale. Don’t use lager, it doesn’t workThey are attracted to the trap, they drink the beer, they fall in and drown. That’s it.

You’ll need to empty it of the bodies everyday and put in new beer. Designs such as this sunflower pictured here are very effective.  If you do this consistently you will have a huge impact on their population and greatly reduce their numbers.

Copper Mesh or Copper Tape

Sunflower Snail and Slug Killer by Pure GardenT

Copper works by creating a little electric shock on the underside of the slugs and snails. The idea is that they will be less likely to cross the barrier. 

Copper can be expensive and it loses its power after a while and eventually doesn’t shock the slug.

Corry's Slug and Snail TapeHair 

Along the way I’ve heard that it’s possible to use your own hair from your hairbrush or use the hair from your dog or cat after your brush them.

Make a barrier of this and they slugs will not have an easy time crossing that because the hair gets stuck in their slime.

However, personally I’m not so sure I want clumps of hair all over my garden.

Eggshells

Ground up eggshells are very sharp and uncomfortable for the slug to crawl across. They will be deterred by a wide barrier of eggshell around your plants, containers and garden area.

The eggshells have sharp edges and the slugs will choose an easier path first before they choose to go across the barrier to your yummy strawberries.

This one works but you need to keep the eggshells fresh and the barrier complete. Re-establish your barrier after a heavy rain or if it gets kicked or broken in any way. 

But also note that this method does not consider the slugs that are already living within the boundary you set with your ring of eggshells. However, eggshells are cheap. 

Ducks

Ducks love to eat slugs and slug eggs! Do you know someone with a farm or someone who owns a few ducks? Ask if you can borrow them for a few hours here and there over the summer.

The ducks will get some bonus ‘free range’ time when they visit your garden and have a yummy snack of slugs and slug eggs at the same time. They root up the eggs with their bills and eat the adults in one gulp happily.

Thankfully slugs are easy to control with consistent effort such as the ones listed above. The best part is that your garden will quickly recover after the removal of the slugs and start thriving and blooming.

If you employ even one of these methods of slug control you will likely see a great reduction in their numbers and much less damage to your garden. It’s best to use a couple of the methods in conjunction with each other to see greatest results.

If you live in a wet climate then you will always have slugs and snails but knowing what to do about them is key. 

Your garden will be saved and free to happily grow all season without the threat of any more slug or snail damage. 

Please leave a comment and tell me if you have to deal with slugs and if you do, how do you get rid of them?


About

You may also like...

One thought on “Slugs and Snails and What to Do About Them

    • Stacy

      June 1, 2017 at 10:12am

      Agreed, they’re both chemicals and they each have pros and cons. In recent years I’ve switched to using ferric phosphate pellets and they work well. It’s a myth for sure, copper definitely doesn’t get rid of slugs. At the very best you might be able to create a temporary barrier around your plants with copper tape or similar products but it won’t “get rid” of the slugs at all.

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Stacy

      July 28, 2015 at 7:33am

      Do you know anyone with a farm? It might be easier to borrow a duck from someone.

      It was pretty amazing the first time I saw a group of ducks “dog pile” on a slug in the nursery. The winning duck took the slug and ran as fast as he could around the yard and plants as he tried to eat it. The others were running right behind him trying to steal it but he ultimately kept his prize. They really like slugs and snails alike!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply
  1. Ginny

    August 19, 2014 at 5:39am

    Great article. Thanks! You haven’t mentioned diatomaceous earth; just wondering if you have an opinion about this method. I’ve always thought it is a good one because it’s virtually invisible, as ooposed to egg shells, beer trals, etc.

    Permalink  ⋅ Reply
    • Stacy

      August 22, 2014 at 7:43am

      Hi Ginny

      I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Actually, when I wrote this I completely forgot about Diatomaceous earth as a remedy option!
      I definitely endorse it and recommend it as a good natural (non chemical) option to combat slugs and snails.
      I haven’t used that method myself yet, but it sounds like I should start. Thanks for the helpful comment!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

Your email will not be published. Name and Email fields are required

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.