Content of the material
- Recommended course
- Gardening for Wildlife taught by Andy McIndoe
- 3. Set up a Beer Trap
- 10. Plant sacrificial plants
- 5. Use Broken Eggshells
- 2. Sprinkle Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth
- 9. Kill Their Eggs
- 9: Wheat Bran/Corn Bran
- 13. Bait snails and slugs with beer
- 16: Citrus Traps
- 5. Use Emptied Grapefruit Halves
- How to stop snails eating young plants
- Watch These Related Videos
- 2. Use Traps to Control the Mollusks
- Disrupt and Displace
- Getting rid of slugs in the garden – use baking soda!
- What do slugs do and why getting rid of slugs, anyway?
- Place Snail Barriers
- What do snails eat?
- Biological Controls
- Are Snails or Slugs Taking Over Your San Francisco Bay Area Garden? We’re Here to Help!
Gardening for Wildlife taught by Andy McIndoe Gardening for wildlife teaches you how to create a garden to attract birds, bees, insects and small wild animals.View courseAll Gardening courses
3. Set up a Beer Trap
This is cruel and leads to slug death, but if you are desperate, here goes. Bury an open container so that the rim is level with the ground and put about an inch of beer in it. The slugs will dive into this shallow beer pool and meet their hasty demise. Check the trap each morning and clean it out as necessary.
10. Plant sacrificial plants
Sacrificial plants, also known as trap plants, help protect your garden from pests by attracting the pests elsewhere. For example, if you are trying to protect an ornamental garden bed from snails, you can plant some lettuce in the back or in less-conspicuous spots. Snails like the taste of lettuces better than most ornamental plants, so they will more likely dine on your lettuce leaves than your pretty plants.
5. Use Broken Eggshells
Scatter broken eggshells in a perimeter around slug favorites. The sharp edges are not comfortable on those soft slimy bodies. The eggshells will decompose and benefit the soil, as well.
2. Sprinkle Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth
This natural powder is somewhat of a hidden gem when it comes to natural pest control. Buy some food-grade diatomaceous earth and sprinkle it on areas where the snails and slugs frequent. Diatomaceous earth has microscopic edges that can pierce the bodies of slugs and snails.
9. Kill Their Eggs
Another great way is to till your garden frequently to kill the gastropods' eggs. Both snails and slugs lay their eggs on the surface of soil, so tilling or plowing the garden will kill them, remove the debris they hide under, and create unfavorable living conditions for the pests. After working the soil, introduce materials such as gravel and wood chips to inhibit their movement.
9: Wheat Bran/Corn Bran
Small piles and rings of wheat or corn bran can be sprinkled around plants. When slugs and snails eat the bran it causes desiccation and death. This is a totally organic option and safe if wildlife eat the dead pest, they get a little extra nutrition. However you will need to replenish it regularly after rainy weather.
13. Bait snails and slugs with beer
This is another lethal option and should only be used if your goal is to kill the snails. Place a shallow dish or pan of beer in your garden. The snails and slugs will be attracted by the yeast and will crawl into the beer where they will drown and die. Again, this kills the snails instead of just warding them off, so you might want to try some of the other options first.
16: Citrus Traps
Love cooking with citrus? Save your lemon, lime, orange and even grapefruit peels to scatter upside down in your garden before night. In the morning you will find a good portion of your slugs and snails have found their way to these tasty treats. You can then collect them and move the slugs and snails at least 20 feet from your garden.
5. Use Emptied Grapefruit Halves
Slice a grapefruit in half then scoop out and enjoy the grapefruit flesh. Next, place the emptied grapefruit halves near affected plants and leave them overnight. You should find plenty of slugs and snails in it the next morning.
How to stop snails eating young plants
It’s a good idea to start off seeds in pots instead of sowing them in the ground where they’re vulnerable to snail attack. To keep young plants out of reach of snails, put them in a greenhouse or cold frame, or in a raised frame on a stand.
Wait until they’re more established before planting them out. A cloche or plastic bottle with end cut off and the cap unscrewed will give them a bit of protection until they’re grown up enough to manage.
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2. Use Traps to Control the Mollusks
If you'd prefer not to use bait or poison, a trap is a good solution. Common homemade traps for snails and slugs include inverted grapefruit halves, overturned flowerpots, and boards.
- Grapefruits have a scent that attracts the gastropods. When they crawl under the halves, they get trapped inside and die. Some great alternatives for this method are inverted melon or orange rinds and inverted cabbage leaves.
- Overturned flowerpots work the same way: Pests move into the pots when they are tilted. Then, to trap as many pests as possible, leave the flowerpots overnight in the infested area.
- Use a board, setting the wooden plank on the ground. The mollusks will come to hide under it after their activities at night. You can then lift the board during the daytime to kill them. A good alternative to the board is a black plastic sheet or carpet.
- Other ways: An inverted saucer or any other vessel with lettuce leaves or other bait can also be a good trap. The pests will be attracted by the leaves or food items and get trapped inside.
Disrupt and Displace
A good starting point for your slug and snail management program is to disrupt and remove their daytime hidey-holes, to the greatest extent that you’re able to.
Preferred hangouts can be a tall stand of weeds or the underside of just about anything on or close to the ground – particularly in moist, shady areas.
Underneath boards, garden decor, planters, ledges, decks, low-growing branches, pot rims, debris, and protective ground covers are all prime real estate for gastropods.
To disrupt their environment, undercut low branches, burn weeds with a weed torch or trim weeds close to the ground, and remove any unnecessary material they can hide under.
Obviously, some areas like rock walls, decks, meter boxes, permanent bird feeders, and so on can’t be removed – but these spots make good locations to bait and trap.
Getting rid of slugs in the garden – use baking soda!
You probably use baking soda in your kitchen regularly – but it has many more uses. You can clean a washing machine, descale a kettle or brighten curtains with it. It can also help you in the garden as a slug repellent.
Are you wondering whether using baking soda to get rid of snails is difficult? Some claim it’s the most effective method of getting rid of slugs. All you have to do is pour it in whatever spots you want to protect against the pests. Soda creates a barrier that repels slugs and snails – they are not able to cross it, so they give up and leave your garden.
What do slugs do and why getting rid of slugs, anyway?
Garden snails and slugs, just like other pests, come to the garden primarily in search for food. Finding shelter on hot sunny days is their additional motivation.
But do you really have to wonder how to get rid of snails as soon as you spot them? As for snails without shell, that is – slugs, it is recommended to act immediately. They are quite unique pests and their presence in the garden doesn’t bode well at all. Nonetheless, if you notice garden snails, you can hold for a while and observe their behaviour. Sometimes snails don’t prey on healthy plants and eat just scraps or naturally dying elements.
Interestingly enough, some snails can positively affect garden crops. They might eat weeds and their seeds. In this case, finding a way to kill snails is unnecessary.
- Avoid using salt to kill snails, as it will likely damage your plants or the soil in your yard or garden.
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- Be careful when using coffee grounds, as they can affect the pH of the soil.
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Place Snail Barriers
Much to your dismay, snails in your garden likely have unrestricted access to their desired food source: the roots and leaves of your plants. Most gardeners want to get rid of snails while leaving the soil composition and microbiome of their garden relatively undisturbed. These gardeners need to look no further than the contents of their own pantry and garage.
Natural items you may already have around the house can be used to create grating barriers that snails will be unable to pass over. Below a snail’s hard outer shell is the vulnerable, soft body they use to transport themselves around. Using irritating materials such as abrasive gravel, sharp eggshell fragments, diatomaceous earth, or rough wood chips will deter them from getting any closer to what they thought would be their next meal.
What do snails eat?
Snails eat organic matter, including a wide variety of living plants and decaying wood, crops, and plant leaves. Snails will also eat crops and flowers, and are particularly fond of the following:
- Various vegetables
The brown garden snail (the most common snail to invade homes and gardens in California) will also eat succulents, turfgrass, and herbs.
For combating gastropods, my personal weapon of choice is beneficial nematodes.
One hundred percent natural, nematodes are naturally occurring microscopic worms that are mixed with water for application.
The best times to apply nematodes are once soil temperatures have warmed up in spring, and after intense summer heat has ebbed in late summer/early fall.
They won’t kill adult snails or slugs, but when applied to the soil, nematodes enter the gastropods’ eggs. They then release bacteria that kills the eggs, then feed off the eggs and reproduce before moving on – with an effective killing rate of about 90 percent.
Nematodes move swiftly through pre-moistened soil, and can be applied with a hose and sprayer or with a watering can for smaller areas.
You won’t see immediate results with nematodes, but the following year you’ll notice a significant reduction in the slimy herbivores.
For best results, make three consecutive applications – spring/fall/spring, or fall/spring/fall. After that, an application once every 18 months will keep gastropod numbers at bay.
Timing is important with this method. A package contains millions of live nematodes, and if you don’t plan on using them immediately, they need to stay refrigerated until application. In the package, they have a limited shelf life of around two weeks.
Nematodes can be purchased online through various retailers. There are different species of nematodes, so be sure that the ones that you buy are listed for slug and snail control.
Before purchasing them, ensure soil temperatures are adequate, and that you’ll have the necessary time available for application.
Are Snails or Slugs Taking Over Your San Francisco Bay Area Garden? We’re Here to Help!
Here at Smith’s Pest Management, we help residential and commercial properties in Northern California from Marin to Monterey get rid of snails on their property.
Contact us today to schedule your pest removal appointment and finally get rid of the snails on your property once and for all.