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Get rid of slugs

Updated on July 9, 2011

Slugs, a gardeners worst enemy

In one night a group of slugs can do so much damage in a garden that it is heartbreaking
In one night a group of slugs can do so much damage in a garden that it is heartbreaking

How to eradicate slugs from the garden

There are 3 ways to eradicate slugs from the garden, creating a physical barrier, encouraging a predator and using Nematodes. All of these ways are easy to do, cheap and friendly to the environment. So get rid of slugs and ditch those slug pellets. We all know that slug pellets are harmful to the native wildlife, but now there is concern that the build up of the chemicals from pellets in the soil is leading to vegetables containing high amounts of Metaldehyde.  Also as the pellets dissolve in water, high amounts of Metaldehyde are entering the water table, into rivers and then into the water in our homes.

Nematodes

You can buy nematodes in packets that you mix with water then apply to your soil. The nematode attack the slugs in the soil, so there is no messy bits to clear up.The Nematode works when the soil reaches a temperature of 5°C/41°F and it's damp. Once watered in they get to work and last for six to eight weeks. I find that after that time most plants have become established and are capable of withstanding an attack. However I find after using nematodes that the slugs are greatly reduced in number. Normally an application twice a year would be sufficient for most gardens.

Physical barriers

The cheapest ways to get rid of slugs is to use a physical barrier, now some of these will not kill the slugs but will protect a vulnerable plant from an attack. An example of this is copper bands. These are ideal to use around a container that contains a slug attracting plant like a Hosta. However some things must be considered. The Copper band must be wide enough so the slug can't just raise it's body over it. So I find it is best to use 2 widths. Also make sure a leaf from the plant can't hang down over the copper allowing the slug to avoid the copper by using the leaf as a bridge. As I mentioned a copper band won't kill slugs just give them a nasty shock, so onto other things. One of the most used slug killers are the beer traps. Now when using beer traps there are things to remember. First use a stale beer or a honey and yeast mixture. Lagers can attract slugs but not as well as a yeasty smelly stale beer. Next make sure the trap is deep enough and full enough so the slugs can fall in and drown. Then bury the trap into the soil so the top is at soil level. Now you are going to have to empty the traps and top them up every so often. I use the word traps as you are going to have several if you have a major slug problem.

Predators

There are certain animals that will eat slugs, so encouraging these predators into the garden to keep slugs under control is a worthwhile thing to do. The toad loves slugs, so a small pond will attract toads and in turn they will decimate the slug population in your garden. If you haven't room for a pond, find the dampest darkest place in the garden and build a toad house. This can be as simple as a piece of slate on a couple of bricks. If you can provide shelter and food for toads, you will soon have some in your garden. Much the same thing goes for hedgehogs. These little animals forage at night for food, which is when slugs like to move around. A pile of old logs will provide shelter. If you do get a hedgehog in the garden, never feed it milk as it makes them ill. Best to use old cat food, which will also attract slugs. So if the hedgehog doesn't eat the food, you can dispose of it, and the slugs in the morning.

Hostas, much loved by slugs

A combination of egg shells and copper tape helps to keep this Hosta slug free
A combination of egg shells and copper tape helps to keep this Hosta slug free

More barriers and traps.

There are more things that you can do to limit a slug attack in the garden. The rind of citrus fruit, placed around vulnerable plants, will capture slugs. Invert the rind near the plant and in the morning get rid of it and the slugs. There are also scratchy barriers that will deter slugs. A thick layer of crushed egg shells placed in a broad circle will stop slugs crossing it to the plant. If you use this check it every now and then, to make certain debris has not fallen on the crushed egg shells, forming a bridge for the slugs to use. Another barrier is to use sandpaper. Cut the sandpaper to make a wide collar to encircle the plant. This will put off slugs getting to your plant. Personally in my garden I use a mixture of these methods. I have copper tape around containers, egg shells around my Hostas and nematodes on the vegetable patch. If you have any other ways to kill slugs please share them. Of course, you could just pick up the slugs when you see them. A tour of your garden at dusk, collecting the slugs you see , will help keep adult slugs from mating.

Comments

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    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR

      jayjay40 

      7 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks cat on a soapbox for your comments and tips on how to get rid of slugs. Good tip on earwigs I will have to try that.

    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 

      7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Great tips for control- thanks!

      In drier areas like So.Cal., slugs and snails are primarily nocturnal. I find that putting out newspaper, sheets of cardboard or wood will catch large numbers because they will hide underneath when the sun comes up. Simply gather these sheets and dispose of the slugs by scrapping into the trash or a bucket of stale beer. If you must use a commercial slug bait, use an iron phosphae like Sluggo that is safe for pets and wildlife. Earwigs are natural decomposers and should be left alone. Keep them out of strawberries by providing straw or fine bark for the berries to lay on. You may find them in he roses, but most petal damage is done by thrips or chafer beetles..

    • 2patricias profile image

      2patricias 

      7 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      I heard on the radio yesterday (it's mid October as I write) that now is the time to look for any snails that are getting ready to hibernate. Look under rocks, tiles, etc and you may find clusters of snails. If you get rid of them now (by whatever means) they won't be there in the spring.

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR

      jayjay40 

      8 years ago from Bristol England

      I find beer traps alone are not enough, so I use other methods as well

    • lovelypaper profile image

      Renee S 

      8 years ago from Virginia

      Yeah, I've heard putting beer out helps.

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR

      jayjay40 

      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks epigramman for the comment. I am struggling with slugs in my garden at the moment, they are eating my broad beans at the moment and ignoring the beer trap. They seem so hardened that I think I might try cider in the traps.

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 

      8 years ago

      yes yes yes that's what I say - get rid of all the other slugs and just keep your hubs ... they reach a new level of understanding and bliss ...

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR

      jayjay40 

      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Oh yes, the slugs really get you. I have fed so many, I should get an award! welcome to the world of gardening Felicity and thank you for leaving a comment

    • EmpressFelicity profile image

      EmpressFelicity 

      8 years ago from Kent, England, UK

      Until I started gardening seriously last year, I never realised how much hatred I would develop in my heart for slugs LOL. Your tips sound great, especially the nematodes and the wide copper bands!

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR

      jayjay40 

      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks reddog for the comment and advice I'll be looking in to it.

    • reddog1027 profile image

      reddog1027 

      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      What a great hub. I hate slugs. When I have to treat a large are like my vegetable garden, I like to use Diatamatious earth. But get the kind that is used in gardens and not for swimming pools. It drys those little buggers right up. It does need to be replaces periodically especially after it rains. It also works on all kinds of insect pest.

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR

      jayjay40 

      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks Ethel for the comment, the slugs do seem to be circling waiting to attack . they are cunning devils

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 

      8 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Yuk. I have slugs lurking in my composter. I do have frogs also though.

      This hub is packed full of useful info thanks

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR

      jayjay40 

      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Nice to hear from you Bristol Boy, If you miss gardening I hear there is a nice piece of land at Ashton Gate that might as well be turned into allotments.-LOL

    • BristolBoy profile image

      BristolBoy 

      8 years ago from Bristol

      Very useful advice - now if only I still had a garden! I must agree that I didn't use slug pellets for environmental reasons (when I had a garden!) and tbh it didn't seem to make much difference to my plants!

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR

      jayjay40 

      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Slugs are the most horrid things, beer is good at attracting them. Thanks for the comment suziecat7.

    • suziecat7 profile image

      suziecat7 

      8 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I used to put a bowl of beer in my garden to catch slugs. Every morning there would be a load of those drowned disgusting things in the bowl.Great Hub.

    • jayjay40 profile imageAUTHOR

      jayjay40 

      8 years ago from Bristol England

      Thanks for the comments everyone, the slugs are out in number at the moment with all this damp weather. They really are a dreadful pest

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 

      8 years ago

      Very timely advice jayjay - I just noticed the effects

      of the slugs which has started in the garden in the last couple of days. Good that you mentioned the awful effects of slug pellets. Good news is lots of ladybirds are about. Thank you for this useful hub.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      They are the nightmare of gardeners. Thank you for all these great tips.

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 

      8 years ago from South Wales

      Thanks for the info, jayjay. Slugs are a real pest here, so I'll take your advice.

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