How to deal with slugs in the garden

Living in the Pacific Northwest there is no way to get away from these slimy creatures. Last year I only saw a few of these creatures but apparently my veggie plot must have been identified and they told all their friends since I am currently planting my second set of cilantro and lettuce seeds since they ate up my little seedlings.

Now how do I deal with these creatures? The first thing you should do is take care of your plants remove any dead/dying/diseased leaves to not give those slugs a tempting meal and a place to hide. In late spring make sure you turn/rake your soil this will disturb hibernating slugs and expose eggs which should be picked up by birds and/or killed by the first fall frost, which should start your garden to a better start the following season. Until then, here are a few methods to help free your garden from slugs this season:

Copper: Not going into the science but when a slug touches a path covered by copper they will get a tiny electrostatic shock which will deter them to go elsewhere. Now given my garden is surrounded by cinder blocks so attaching copper tape around my garden would be very difficult. The copper strips also can have sharp edges with is bad for slugs but also for me and my little one’s fingers. I have seen copper rings that attach to the underside of pots to prevent them from climbing up, which seems like a viable option if slugs find the contents particular appealing. It may very well be cheaper to throw a few handfuls of shiny pennies around but probably not the most attractive mulch.

Abrasive surfaces: Slugs have very sensitive undersides so laying and abrasive material blocking their path can kill or annoy them enough to head off to another direction. Some choices are broken egg shells, Epsom salts, ashes, coarse sand, and diatomaceous earth marketed for this specific purpose.

Slug traps: There are many methods to bait and kill slugs. Probably the most well known is the beer trap where you poor some beer in a shallow container at ground level where the slugs come in for a drink and drown. Couple others to try is corn meal and grapefruit, apparently they love them but after ingesting it will kill them.

Poison (Snail/Slug bait): Now in many cases this is the most effective method but definitely not the best option for the environment. Most “Snail/Slug bait” contains an ingredient called metaldehyde which a small dosage (around 200 mg per kg) can kill neighborhood cats or dogs as well as birds which are a very effective means of controlling slugs.

Slug deterrents: There are many baits that contain iron phosphate instead of metaldehyde which can also be very effective and actually sweeten your soil at the same time, so be sure to check your labels. One product that has worked for me is “Worry Free Slug and Snail Bait” (similar product to “Sluggo” or “Escar-Go”) the stuff does not kill the slugs directly and is safe for your vegetables and your neighborhood animals. You simply spread the granules around areas your slugs are visiting and after the slugs have a taste they lose their appetite and leave your garden or dies of starvation.

Become a slug exterminator:Though pretty gruesome you can simply hand pick and destroy the slugs yourself. Now this is very effective method but definitely not advisable for the squeamish. Some methods are impaling, bisecting, throwing in boiling water, stomping, salting, spraying with ammonia, or use your imagination. If you have problems finding them try going for a late walk in your garden with a flashlight or lay some carpet in a portion of your garden and check under it every few days.

12 Responses to “How to deal with slugs in the garden”

  1. Cinj Says:

    Excellent tips. I think I like the pennies as mulch idea!

  2. Robj98168 Says:

    You forgot “Get a Duck!” Ducks think slugs are duck chocolate and well eat them hungrily! Personaly I just tie a towel around my neck like a cape and grab the handy salt shaker And go out in my garden as SALTMAN- SUPER HERO TO PLANTS AND DOOER OF GOOD AND ARCH ENEMY OF SLUGS AND OTHER SLIMY PESTS!

  3. Jen Says:

    Ohhh man I hate slugs. UGH

  4. The Cheap Vegetable Gardener Says:

    cinj, guess I have seen worse mulch out there :)robj98168, “Saltman” that’s something worth taking a picture and posting 🙂 Actually I meant to include ducks as well as chickens (not really an option for my urban area unfortunately) Also hear that Koi like them has a little snack.jen, I share your sentiment 🙂

  5. Robj98168 Says:

    I posted a couple ofSLUGGY videos on my blog in case anyone is interested

  6. Michael Says:

    Hi Just read your article and thought you would like to know of a brilliant slug protector….I like you and most gardeners suffer from slugs and snails in this damp weather and in fact now that the climate has changed we have the slug and snail problem all year round, I have tried beer traps, copper tape, and wire salt, egg shells, even throwing them in my neighbours garden etc,etc all these methods are not practical long lasting and are harmful to our wildlife. recently a lady gardener recommended a new device to control slugs and snails called the slugbell she has used it and found it to be absolutely brilliant at controlling them I have just ordered 6 of them to place around my flowers and vegetable garden ,here is there web page they use both Organic or Normal bug pellets and that the small amount of pellets needed will last up to three months.!!! as they don’t dissolve in the soil and are pet i.e. Cat , Dog and wildlife Safe Brilliant for us pet owners , I will try anything to keep my pets safe and my garden looking how it should whilst protecting natures cycle. hope this is useful information to your gardeners.

  7. Mike W. Says:

    A slugbait with the active ingredient of Iron Phosphate is safe around pets and wildlife.

  8. Slugs eating my lettuce Says:

    […] I did an entire post on deterring slugs from your garden, but I was so excited to get these romaine lettuce plants out of my grow box and into the garden I […]

  9. David Says:

    I’ve been trying to reduce the use of blue-pellets. One thing I’ve done is to grow plants (like french beans) in pots and then plant them out when they are slightly bigger, tougher and less attractive to slugs. It works but it’s a lot more work than direct to soil sowing. Beer trays seem fine but I think I have a few tee total slugs on my patch!

  10. Kate B Says:

    Hi! I came across your post searching for a way to end my slug problem. They just eat EVERYTHING I grow. I’ll definitely follow your advice. I saw this video in my searches, too, so I thought I’d share as a “thank you”. It’s hilarious!


  11. Rosy Says:

    I think slugs and snails are cool little creatures, they are interesting to watch as well to allowed to slime my fingers….

    With this being said I simply just removed them from my favorite plants with my bare hands and transport them to another part of yard…I have learn that they detest nasturtiums, however if that is all there is to eat for them, they will eat it and that I am thankful for cause I got too many nasturtiums.

  12. Sally K. Says:

    I tried the grapefruit trap idea, and it really worked! I just left a little pulp in the grapefruit rinds after juicing them, and placed them upside down near my seedlings. By nighttime dozens of slugs were caught and disposed of.

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