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Getting Rid of Slugs Naturally

Updated on October 11, 2012
Slugs in the garden
Slugs in the garden

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Slugs can be a huge pest in your garden, whether you are growing flowers, herbs or vegetables. These unpleasant little guys take their time but do their damage under the cover of darkness making it harder for you to control their numbers. Though there are a number of chemicals you can buy to help eliminate your slug problems, you might want to try a more environmental approach with some of these tried and true tips.

You can take one of two approaches (or both, if you want to be extra thorough, I suppose). Either protect your garden area from slugs coming in, or actually kill off the slugs completely. Different techniques will give you either results. Be aware that using a protective method is less destructive, but only keeps slugs OUT and will offer no assistance with slugs already IN your pots and beds.

Protective Approach

Copper

Slugs hate copper and won't cross over it, so it can be used to create an effective barrier around your plants. The best material to use is copper tape (found at craft or hardware stores). This particular method is ideal for container plants where you can simple line the rim of the pot with copper tape. It can work in plants beds on the ground, but is not as effective. Make sure to get tape that is at least 1 ½ inches wide (or more). You could probably even create a decent barrier using some of those old pennies you have saved in your change jar.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth (usually shortened down to DE), isn't really earth at all. It's a powder made from ground up little sea creatures called diatoms. They have hard shells, and though this powder may feel talcum soft to you or I, it can cut into a slugs soft body in an instant. Spread a heavy line of DE around your beds and no slug would dare to cross. This is also a good bet for other insects as well. It's not toxic, so is harmless to larger animals, pets or children. You will need to reapply periodically, especially after rain.

Coffee grounds

Another similar method to the DE, is to use old coffee grounds in the same way. The oils and other chemicals in the coffee will keep slugs away. Some coffee shops will even save their used grounds for you if you ask. You'll need more than you will likely produce in your own home, depending on the size of your garden area. Also, this barrier will need reapplication after rain.

Elimination Approach

Beer traps

The most popular slug defence is the beer trap. Use a shallow container or saucer, filled with beer in your garden area. If your container is too deep, you can set it into the ground so the edge is easier for the slug to get over. Any sort of beer will do, but it will need to be refilled after it rains. The sugars and yeast attract the slugs, who then climb in and drown.

Slant board trap

This is a simpler method, but will require your own killing method once you have cornered the slugs. Place a wooden board in your garden, with one end just slightly raised, creating a lean-to. After the slugs are done for the night, they will hide under this board. So in the morning, you can easily collect them for destruction. Having a bowl of salt water to drop them into is a common approach.

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      5 years ago from USA

      Great information. I have some DE so I will try that first, then copper if I need to. They are crawling all over my porch in the evening and yucking things up.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      7 years ago from Deep South, USA

      I like the coffee grounds method best. I don't have a veggie garden, so probably produce enough strong coffee grounds to do the trick for my flower beds. Thanks for the tips!

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