Easy Steps On How To Get Rid Of Slugs For Good

Even small slugs play a significant role in the ecosystem, feeding on the decomposing matter and providing protein for wild critters. But, however important they may be, that doesn’t make it any more pleasant when you find them noshing on the plants you worked so hard to grow in your garden. So, do you have any slugs causing damage, annoyance and stress? No wonder you are looking for ways to keep them away from your yard!

Maybe you’ve managed to get rid of ants, midges and wasps from your garden, but slugs are still there! There are many organic, natural, and chemical methods to get rid of these unwanted pests! Wondering what the best ways to keep those creepy crawlers from devastating your garden are? We are here to help and give you smart and easy solutions to deal with your slug problem. Keep on reading!

Reasons to get rid of slugs

Slugs are very damaging garden pests that can be found throughout most of the world and most of the time in humid climates. They are not insects; they are soft-bodied molluscs. Although they may be easy to catch, they are difficult to find during the day. They appear at night and feed on your yard’s ornamental plants, causing harm and making your plants less attractive. Here are the main reasons homeowners would not want these slimy pests near their property.

  1. They’re not pretty. To some, slugs are an eyesore. But for others, their slime trails are not pleasing to the eye. 
  2. They damage crops and plants. Like all pests, they eat plants. Their appetite can reduce crop yield and vandalize ornamentals. Since they feed mainly on leaves, they can be a threat in your leafy vegetable garden.
  3. They can wreak water features’ havoc. Slugs near water features in your garden, like ponds, can be detrimental in many ways. First, they can kill the fish if the molluscs are parasitic. Second, if you let them reproduce without control, they compete for resources. Third, they can clog pipework and filters of pools, tanks, or ponds.
  4. They host parasites. Some of the molluscs host deadly parasites and microorganisms, like liver flukes. Others may carry parasitic worms that cause bilharzia.
  5. They can be a danger to your pets. The slimy mucus they produce can cause excess drool or vomiting in pets like dogs and cats if they ingest it. Even worse, some slugs carry a parasite named rat lungworm which can transfer into your pets if they eat the slug.

What are the signs of a slug infestation?

Want to know if you have a slug infestation? This is pretty easy to recognise when you are looking for the right clues. Here are the main signs that point toward slug damage:

  • Damage during wet periods, overnight, after heavy rain and the first months of spring.
  • Silver slime lines along the ground, wood, rocks, or on chewed leaves.
  • For further proof, go out to your garden at night with your flashlight and look for them in possible hiding spots, like flower beds, vegetable and flower pots
  • Ragged holes around tender leaves and flowers.

How to get rid of garden slugs

Once you are sure that you have a slug problem, you have to act as quickly as possible to control the slug population and keep your garden green and happy. Here are the best ways to get rid of them.

Use milk or beer traps

Using milk or beer traps is best used for small gardens or important areas since slugs will only notice them from a metre away. 

  • Bury into the soil a tall cup with steep sides. Leave its rim 1.25 cm above the earth to prevent the trap from killing ground beetles that hunt slugs.
  • Fill half of the cup with beer or milk.
  • Replace the content every few days. If the slugs manage to climb out, replace with a mix of yeast, honey, and some water, boiled until gluey.

Use cornmeal slug traps

  • Put 2 tablespoons of cornmeal in a jar.
  • Lay it on its side
  • Keep the cornmeal dry. Dry cornmeal is fatal for slugs if they eat it.

Lure slags where you want them

Slugs prefer to gather in shady, moist areas, such as flower pots, underneath wooden planks and cardboard boxes. After you set these up, check them daily for living snails to gather and discard away from your house. For better results, attract them with some slug foods like:

  • Cabbage leaves
  • Citrus fruit rinds
  • Dry pet food

Use the catch and release method

We are sure you can imagine a more fun task than that to spend your nights, but hunting individual slugs may be necessary to deal with a large problem. Get your flashlight and disposable gloves, and use a stick to get the slugs or drop them in a bucket of soapy water. To find them, check the leaves’ undersides and follow any slime trails.

Control slugs with salt

  • Mix a strong solution of water and salt in a spray bottle. Don’t worry about being precise when measuring the salt; it just needs to be discernible in the water.
  • Having your gardening gloves on, spray any slugs you find at nightfall. You can also spray non-soil surfaces and sprinkle salt on the surface where the slugs are crawling around.
  • Since salt can quickly kill plants and ruin soil, go back to the garden in the morning and wash away any residual salt spray from your plants.

Slug control with diatomaceous earth

Many gardeners use this for pest control. It is made of the fossilised remains of tiny aquatic organisms called diatoms. Critters ingest these remains, causing them to dry up. Thankfully it is nontoxic to humans and pets.

  • Wait for a dry day and check the forecast to ensure there’s no rain for at least 24 hours.
  • Wearing your gardening gloves and a dust mask, sprinkle some of it in various spots throughout your garden. You should be careful and not spray it on the plants’ leaves.
  • Wait some days for the slugs to ingest the diatomaceous earth. If it’s necessary, repeat the process on another dry day.

Slug control with organic slug bait

This is a repellent you should use only for major problems. Some formulas can be highly toxic to humans and pets. Prefer to use organic products that are typically safer.

  • Purchase organic slug bait from your local garden centre. Find a product made of iron phosphate, which is toxic to slugs but less dangerous for humans and pets.
  • Check the weather and make sure to treat on a dry day.
  • Wearing your gardening gloves, fill your garden spreader with granules.
  • Following the product’s instruction to determine the right amount, start treating the area.
  • Wait for the slugs to eat the product at night. The consumption will be fatal to them.

Commit to nematodes

Nematodes are microscopic parasitic worms living in the soil. You can purchase some species specifically for killing slugs at your local gardening store. In most cases, they come with directions, but typically you spread them over the soil and water them. 

Using nematodes can be highly effective, but keep in mind that this is a double-edged sword. Yes, you can get rid of many slugs, but their predators (and the nematodes) will leave the area or die out. If you don’t reapply every few weeks, a massive wave of slugs may take over due to the lack of threats.

Make a grapefruit trap

Slugs love citrus. This means that you can use fruits like grapefruit to make your own traps.

  • You’ll need empty rinds (peel).
  • Place some upside down on the ground, and make sure there is enough clearance for a slug to enter. 
  • This will provide slugs with food and a damp environment to hide. Leave the traps overnight and dispose of any slugs you caught in the morning.

Use slug pellets

  • If you are growing vegetables, it is better to use traditional slug pellets that contain 3% metaldehyde as their active ingredient.
  • If you have any pets, avoid “pellet” form metaldehyde, which can be mistaken for pet treats. Use “granule” form instead.
  • You can find iron phosphate pellets in garden centres. Some commercial names, like Slug Magic, Snail Bait and Sluggo, claim they are safer to use around pets, but still, it’s a good idea to use them with control.
  • Don’t apply the treatment near any edible plants.
  • According to the Pesticides Usage Survey Group 2000, people sprinkle 400 billion pellets on gardens annually, which causes a severe problem in drinking water.

How to prevent slugs from returning

The best way to save yourself from a slug problem is to properly plan before these pests appear again in your garden. Find here some innovative and easy ways to prevent slugs from returning to your property. For the best results, use a combination of the methods listed below!

Use copper tape

This is a natural slug repellent, as slimes’ slime reacts with the metal, producing a tiny electric shock.

  • Place copper tape around your plant potsrim to act as a deterrent for slugs.
  • Clean the copper tape regularly with vinegar to avoid tarnishing.

Use various barrier methods

  • Use sharp gravel, pine needles and eggshells to create barriers.
  • There are many commercial barrier methods, such as Slug Gone and Sluggo.
  • Make a copper strip barrier around your plants or planting beds.
  • Build folk remedy barriers of coffee grounds, sand scrapes, seaweed and salt to keep small slugs away. Coffee grounds can also be good for your garden.

In case you use more powerful barriers

Some people use more powerful, but also more hazardous barriers. If you can avoid them, this is for the best, but if you need to use any of them, you should keep in mind some things:

  • You must not inhale any of these substances or handle them with bare hands. 
  • These are not suitable where children or pets play.
  • Diatomaceous earth can harm beneficial insects.
  • Wood ash raises soil pH and can affect plants.
  • Hydrated lime raises soil pH greatly and can make it uninhabitable for many plants.

Make your garden an unfriendly environment for slugs

  • Water plants in the early morning, so the soil will be dry before nightfall.
  • Minimise water use by installing drip irrigation.
  • Use your lawn mower regularly and keep the yard free of debris.
  • Avoid organic mulches, such as grass clippings or straw.
  • In early spring, make sure to rake your garden to remove leaves, debris and slug eggs.

Grow garden plants that deter slugs

Create a barrier, using plants that deter slugs around the entirety of your garden, or keep one near each other plant. These plants are hard to chew, have a bad taste and smell, or are prickly. Some of them are:

  • Astilbes 
  • Bleeding Heart 
  • Bell Flower 
  • Columbine 
  • Cushion Spurge/Spurge 
  • Creeping Phlox
  • Daylilies 
  • Ferns
  • Jacob’s Ladder 
  • Lobelia 
  • Mint 
  • Ornamental Grasses 
  • Periwinkle 
  • Silver Mound 

Remove slug favourites

Remove plants that attract slugs like:

  • Basil
  • Beans
  • Cabbage
  • Dahlia
  • Delphinium
  • Hosta
  • Lettuce
  • Marigolds
  • Strawberries

Use natural predators

Take the slugs’ enemies by your side and attract them to your garden. 

  • Encourage wild beetles to stay near your garden by providing dry refuges under stones or grass. You can also purchase ground beetle larvae from a gardening store and leave them in your garden in early spring
  • Use birds to your advantage, like ducks, chickens, robins, and jays. Encourage birds to nest in your garden by providing bird feeders or a birdbath.
  • Bring in some toads and newts. To attract wild toads, turn a container upside down against a rock to create a dark hiding place for them. Otherwise, you can purchase wild toads to live in your garden and eat the slugs daily for you.
  • Hedgehogs eat a large number of slugs daily, so build them a home to keep them near. After making the house, look for signs that hedgehogs live in your garden and enjoy the results.

Slugs are one of the most common garden pests you can find on your property. If they consistently cause you troubles and you’re asking yourself how to get rid of them, then it’s time to take action. Use as many as possible of the techniques described above to keep the slug population in check and significantly decrease the amount of damage they cause. Wait no more!

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