How You Can Get Rid of Slugs in the Garden

Photo of a Slug
Photo of a Slug | Source

How to Know if You Have Slugs

Here I'll show you how to get rid of slugs. If you're wondering what those tiny holes are in your plants, you probably have snails or slugs eating them at night. How do you get rid of the slugs without using poisons? If you have hostas or they are eating your lettuce, you are probably ready to kill these slimy creatures as soon as possible.

You may never see the slug, because they are usually busy at night and hide during the day. I've seen them hiding in thick lettuce leaves during daylight hours though.


Slug eggs found under a stone. A baby slug has already hatched.
Slug eggs found under a stone. A baby slug has already hatched. | Source

What are Slugs?

Slugs look much like a snail without the outer shell. Some slugs have no shells at all and others have a partial or an internal shell. They are related to snails, but distantly. A slug is a type of mollusk, as are snails.

Because slugs don't have a shell, they produce mucus to help protect themselves. One is a thick mucus and another is a thin mucus. Now you know why they are slimy looking. There bodies are mainly made up of liquid.

There are both male and female slugs. The female lays about 30 eggs at a time in a small hole.

Snails and slugs look much the same, but a snail has a shell.
Snails and slugs look much the same, but a snail has a shell. | Source

How to Get Rid of Slugs the Natural Way

We are having a drought this year and I'm not having a slug problem at all. Slugs like damp moist places to hide.

1. An easy solution is to use beer. The slimy slugs like the taste. They'll climb into the beer at night and drown, because they aren't able to crawl out. Put the open can in the garden or put some in a small dish. The slugs will climb in and drown. The next morning, you'll find the dead slugs in the beer.

2. Crumbled up egg shells will work. The shells will damage their bodies when they move at night. Once the shells are broken down they'll add calcium to your soil, so this will do double duty.

3. Slugs have tender bodies, so they don't like rough surfaces. Spread rough sand around your plants.

4. Put a few tablespoons of cornmeal in a jar and then lay the jar sideways. Place it in the area where the slugs are causing the problem. The slugs will go in the jar and eat the cornmeal and it kills them.

5. This technique isn't quite as easy, because it is sometimes hard to spot the slugs in the daytime, but it works. Add ammonia with about 6 times as much water in a spray bottle. Spray the slugs with the mixture and it will kill them.

6. Spread coffee grounds around the plants or spray your leftover coffee on the slugs themselves.

7 .Leave old lettuce leaves around the plants and then collect them in the morning. The leaves will be covered with slugs. Put the leaves in an airtight bag and throw in the garbage.

10. Leave the rinds from lemons, grapefruit or oranges out at night and they will be covered with slugs in the morning. Dispose of the rinds and get rid of the slugs.

11. Pick the snails while they are out at night and put in a cup of soapy water. This is a labor intensive method. There are easier methods.

12. Place a board on the ground in the area that is infested. Pull up the board in the morning and pickup the slugs. Either place in soapy water to kill them or squish them and then place in a bag in the garbage.

13. Use diatamaceous earth and spread around the area. This can be purchased at almost every store that carries organic gardening supplies.

14. This method will help, but not completely eradicate the slugs. Cut down all bottom leaves to help keep the plants drier. You might try this with another method.


Hostas and Slugs

It helps to purchase hostas with thick leaves. The slugs have a harder time eating through them.

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Comments 42 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Great suggestions and yes, we have slugs in Washington...lots of slugs.

The egg shells work for us; I'll have to give the cornmeal a try as well. Thanks for these.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

billybuc, Thanks for reading. With the drought last year, I didn't see a single one. I haven't tried cornmeal yet myself, but usually use the beer. It really works, but since we don't drink beer, it is a pain to buy it just for that.


heidithorne profile image

heidithorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

I've used a couple of the methods, but, for some reason have had less issues with them the past couple years. I think drought conditions may be the cause. But with a lot of rain lately, I'm sure we'll be having a Slug Fest. :) Thanks for the suggestions!


chrisinhawaii 3 years ago

You could also import a box of centipedes from Hawaii. Centipedes love to eat slugs.

Of course, then you have to write a hub, "How To Get Rid Of Centipedes The Organic Way."


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

heidithorne, I didn't have a single one last year either, but we suffered a drought here too. I'm sure that is why. I've wondered what this year will be like too. I'm just across Lake Michigan from you. It seems our weather is about the same.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

chrisinhawaii, I think I'd rather deal with the slugs. You're so funny. Thanks for reading.


Sheri Faye profile image

Sheri Faye 3 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

Great information. I use the beer method as I find it the most humane. At least the poor little creatures are drunk! Spraying them with amonia (or putting salt on them) just seems cruel. I also find keeping my garden free of places for them to hide helps as does expsoing the eggs to sun if you find them.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

Sheri, I use the beer too. It is strange that they like it. Thanks for reading and commenting.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

I haven't seen much slugs around lately however you have mentioned tips that could easily workout fro any one has slugs. Most informative and helpful.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

DDE, I haven't seen any this year yet either. I hope that means I won't have any.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 3 years ago from Arkansas, USA

Slugs freak me out! So disgusting. I've been having them on my screened-in patio near the cats' water, sometimes climbing into the bowls. Maybe I should put a bowl of beer out there. When I've gone out, I pour salt on them, but it is so disgusting to have to pick them up in the morning. OH, my!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

We have noticed plants having holes and this may be the problem. I think the egg shells and cornmeal would be best for us to try. Thank you for this advice.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

teaches12345, Thanks for reading. We don't drink beer, so that isn't always a good one for us either.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

Victoria Lynn, I agree. They are slimy disgusting creatures. The beer should do the trick and you can throw away the can when you are finished.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

We had so many slugs this year it was just crazy I guess because of the wet weather. I will keep track of this hub for next year.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

moonlake, The weather is what probably did cause your problem. Thanks for readng. I hope you have a wonderful day.


Suzanne Day profile image

Suzanne Day 3 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Interesting hub! The slugs at my place like to come out in the rain and crawl up the walls, looking awful. I've never heard of anything to eradicate them except hardware store poisons so this was really useful. Thanks.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

Suzanne, Thanks for reading and I'm happy to hear you found something to use.


Marina7 profile image

Marina7 3 years ago from Clarksville TN

Yes these things will work. I know they hate egg shells. Thank you.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

Marina77, Thanks for visiting the page. Mainly I have used the beer in a container and that works great too.


Marina7 profile image

Marina7 3 years ago from Clarksville TN

Oh yes I know they love beer because we collect beer cans for recycling and they are always around or in them.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 3 years ago from USA Author

Marina7, My kids collect them too, but it must be we don't have so many around here. They haven't run into that problem. It is really dry here in the summer though. I think I'd rather have your problem.


Silva Hayes profile image

Silva Hayes 2 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

The beer in a bowl works great. What I do is hollow out a spot where the bowl fits down almost flush into the earth. Then fill the bowl almost to the brim with beer. This makes it easy and inviting for the slugs (an in-ground pool). In the morning, just dump out the bowl and contents, return to the hollow, and re-fill with beer. Good informative hub.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA Author

Silva, Thanks for the suggestion. Thanks for commenting.


ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

My husband and I took a camping trip the first year we were married. He left a cup of beer outside the tent overnight. The next morning a huge slug was inside. They love beer.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA Author

Yuck. I bet you didn't appreciate that. Yes, slugs love beer.


Marina7 profile image

Marina7 2 years ago from Clarksville TN

I love these methods. Thank you.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA Author

Marina, Thanks for reading and I am happy you like these ideas


kerlund74 profile image

kerlund74 2 years ago from Sweden

Thank you for sharing this. Where I live, some years it's slugs even on our windows. It is a huge problem... I will gladly try some of this suggestions. Voted up and useful.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA Author

kerlund74, I'm happy I could help. It must be damp where you live. Thanks for voting it up.


Pico Triano profile image

Pico Triano 2 years ago from New Brunswick, Canada

One you might consider adding is getting a small flock of Muscovy Ducks. Slugs and Snails are like candy for them. They also voraciously eat flies and mosquitos but generally leave the veggies themselves alone. Your points are great. We use crushed egg shells on the garden and diatomaceous earth. The eggs here get a disinfectant bath before being sold as a result they screw up the humus pile. Someday we'll have chickens again and that won't be an issue.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA Author

Pico, We have dogs, so ducks are out of the question. For some reason, I didn't have a problem with slugs this year even though it was wet. I didn't need o do a thing about them. Maybe I've finally gotten rid of them for good. Thanks for commenting.


LadyFiddler profile image

LadyFiddler 2 years ago from Somewhere in the West

Barbara i hate seeing the site of slugs they look so nasty lol. On the other hand you do have some good ways to get rid of them. You know what works perfect for these yucky creatures ? SALT!

Due to the soft slimy skin of these nasty slugs the salt melts them and burn their backs "yippy". It takes few seconds to melt them away :) I love watching them disappear.

Please forgive me if i am sounding evil but i really scorn anything crawling and creepy that infest my space.

Thanks for sharing

Have a wonderful day

~~God bless U ~~


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 2 years ago from USA Author

Ladyfiddler, No, that doesn't sound evil at all and is a great idea. I am OCD about bugs. My problem with using salt for the slugs is that I see the damage and rarely see the yucky things. Thanks for commenting and you have a wonderful day too.


Romanian profile image

Romanian 22 months ago from Oradea, Romania

I didn't know that slugs like beer. Luckily I don't have problems with snails or slugs.


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 22 months ago from USA Author

Romanian, They like cool wet areas. You are lucky you don't have to deal with them. Thanks for reading.


Lee Cloak 21 months ago

Great hub, thanks for the tips, i hate when i accidently step on one whilst putting the trash out bare foot at night!


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 20 months ago from USA Author

Lee Cloak, I stepped on a snake one night with bare feet. Ever since, I do not walk with bare feet at night anymore. The slugs are gross, no doubt. Thanks for commenting.


poetryman6969 profile image

poetryman6969 20 months ago

Voted up for useful and interesting.

Next chance I get I am going to get my slugs drunk and ready to party!


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 20 months ago from USA Author

poetryman6969, That's funny. Thanks for commenting.


Victoria Lynn profile image

Victoria Lynn 4 months ago from Arkansas, USA

I was just reading this again to remind myself of your great tips, Barbara Kay! I really want to try the beer, but will have to buy some (cheap beer for the slugs!). In the meantime, I may try the cornmeal since I rarely use mine. Salt kills them, yes, but the remains are still there and have to be cleaned up. Yucky. I want something they'll crawl in and I can dispose of easily. Actually, I wonder if I could spread cornmeal all around the OUTSIDE of my screened-in patio so that they don't even get in? Where do they come from? Outside? They just seem to appear. My problem is that they get to the cat food and water. I try to keep salt around the bowls to keep them at least out of them, but I'd like to keep them totally OUT in the first place. I don't like seeing their slime trails across the concrete! I may be sprinkling cornmeal on the outside and trying that once it gets damp again. It's hot and dry this week, so that helps keep them away!


Barbara Kay profile image

Barbara Kay 4 months ago from USA Author

Victoria Lynn, Thank you for reading the hub again. We don't have a problem with slugs at all this year. The only reason is because we are in a drought. They seem to like it damp.

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