How to Get Rid of Slugs and Snails?

What attracts slugs to your garden in the first place?

Wet or damp soil is the number one thing that attracts slugs to the garden. Slugs tend to dry out very quickly, and they love living (and eating!) in a location that stays consistently moist.

We are big proponents of mulching to balance soil temperature, reduce weed competition, and retain moisture, but mulch can also increase slug populations because it helps retain moisture so well.

Growfully Protip

If you have slug issues in your garden, make sure to keep your mulch away from the base of the plant.



How to get rid of slugs in the garden – are home remedies effective?

Homemade slug repellents are very effective – and not only when the pests have already invaded your garden. Many of them can be used as a precaution, which means that you can prevent the slugs from ever coming to your garden.

Using the right substrate is a good remedy, or rather a solution that keeps slugs out of the garden. You can enrich the soil using the following elements:

  • small pebbles,
  • scobs,
  • crushed eggshells,
  • ash.

They hinder the slugs’ ability to move around the garden, forcing them to avoid your parcel.



3. How to get rid of slugs in the garden by trapping them

This is one of my favorite tricks for how to get rid of slugs in the garden, especially the vegetable garden. Lay 2×4’s between crop rows at dusk and then the following afternoon, when the slugs take shelter beneath them to avoid the sun, flip over the boards and collect the slugs or cut them in half with a sharp scissors. You can also easily trap them underneath inverted watermelon rinds placed throughout the garden.

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.

8. Use an organic slug bait

When figuring out how to get rid of slugs in the garden, organic slug baits are a must. However, be smart about this method because not all slug baits are the same. Many traditional slug baits used to control slugs in the garden are poisonous to pets and other wildlife in addition to slugs. Do not use slug baits that contain methiocarb or metaldehyde as their active ingredient. Metaldehyde is extremely toxic to mammals (just a teaspoon or two can kill a small dog) and methiocarb isn’t much safer.

Instead, turn to organic baits for garden slug control. Look for an active ingredient of iron phosphate. These slug control products are safe for use on even certified organic farms. Brand names include Sluggo, Slug Magic, and Garden Safe Slug and Snail Bait. Sprinkle the bait on the soil surface around affected plants. The slugs eat the bait and immediately stop feeding. They’ll die within a few days. These baits can even be used in the vegetable garden around food crops, unlike traditional slug baits.

Sprinkle iron phosphate slug baits around nibbled
Sprinkle iron phosphate slug baits around nibbled plants to keep the slug population down.

2. Use the Catch and Release Method

Because I’m the kind of person who literally doesn’t want to hurt a fly, I am going with the catch and release model here. Slugs like dark, damp hiding spots, so place a wet piece of wood or plank near slug hotspots; they will go there for some leisure time after devouring your garden all night. In the morning, lift it up and find the hiding slugs. Release them into the wild … or do with them what you will, just don’t tell me about it.

4. Construct a Fruity Trap

Next time you snack on a citrus fruit like grapefruit or orange, unpeel the rind carefully so you can keep one bowl-shaped half in tact. Poke a hole that’s large enough for a slug to fit through, and then sit the fruit upside down like a dome in your garden. The sweet scent will lure slugs in, distracting them from their usual meal: your plants. If a predator doesn’t get to them first, collect the fruit scraps the next morning and kill any live slugs by dumping them into a container of soapy water.

Get Rid of the Ones That Are Inside Your House

There is nothing worse than waking up on a beautiful morning, only to find slugs in your house. They look horrible and leave a slime trail everywhere they go. My kids are also frightened of them, and my wife hates them with a passion.

For a long time, I had a problem with these slugs both in my house and in my garden. I tried all the usual off-the-shelf products, including various types of pellets, sprays, and beer traps. Some of them worked for a while, but the slugs returned. My other concern was that I have kids and a dog that could get into poisonous pellets or sprays. I had to be careful using these as well.

The frustrating thing about battling slugs is that you feel you made some progress, but the slugs just come back year after year. I remember going on a real crusade to get rid of them one year by picking them off every time I saw one. The only thing I can say about that is that there are more slugs than I had time to get rid of, both in my garden and just outside my house.

I asked my neighbor if he was having similar problems, and he said that he had been tortured with slugs at one time. He still had the problem but greatly diminished it by putting a bird feeder into the garden. It attracted quite a few wild birds that apparently helped eat the slugs.

The Good News

The good news is that slugs are not actually that clever, but boy, can they breed quickly! The only appeal your house has for them is darkness and dampness.

We all have darkness in our houses, and they will have some moisture inside. We like to make our houses look nice with flowers and planters, but don't leave them right outside your door. That makes a very short path for them, and slugs move a lot faster than you might imagine. Trust me, I had a personal vendetta against slugs for many years because they destroyed my flowers for years.

I hope you have found this helpful and that you are able to get rid of slugs from your home quickly and, hopefully, permanently.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Enda McLarnon

2. Crack Open a Cold One

Slugs like beer as much as they like the leafy greens of your garden plants. Crack open a beer and pour it into a few margarine tubs, then distribute the containers in various places around the yard, burying them so that about an inch remains above ground. The slugs will be attracted to the scent, crawl into the tubs, and drown overnight. Dispose of the containers the next morning in your trash or compost bin.

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.

6 Quick and Easy Ways to Eliminate Slugs

  1. The best and quickest way is just to kill them. This is a viable option if you are not squeamish. A sharp stick will do the trick. Simply poke a stick into them and drop them into a bucket of water. That pretty much takes care of them. If you are squeamish, then ask someone who isn't to help you.
  2. Throw salt on them, and they will be dead in a few minutes. Then, you can get rid of them. Sea salt works better because it is more coarse.
  3. A bird table is a great idea, as it attracts birds that will eat slugs.
  4. Don't waste time with beer traps—they are a hit-or-miss method.
  5. Make the ground unappealing to slugs. Add some tree bark around bushes or better still some gravel or fine grit.
  6. Avoid any type of ground-covering plants, as slugs are experts at hiding under them. Try planting flowers that don't trail along the ground, and keep the soil well aerated as you go.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Slugs come out at night, so any of these options will require a nighttime walk around the garden.
  • The time of year is important. Winter is a good time to deal with slugs. You may notice that around this season, slugs tend to disappear. If you are doing your last grass cut for the year and preparing the ground, this is a good time to make the ground rough and unappealing to slugs.
  • If you keep plant pots around the doors of your house, know that slugs enjoy staying underneath them. This really goes for anything that sits on the ground. I am not quite sure how they manage to actually get under these, but they do. It does no harm every now and then to do a quick check, especially if the pot is sitting close to any of the entrances to your home.
  • If you have a leafy garden, moss, or any type of slimy surface close to your house, slugs can get in through vents and under or through skirting boards. They do leave that telltale silver slimy trail behind them. They can also get in through any gaps in old doors or windows.
  • You will find them lurking behind items you may have sitting around in back halls, such as washing machines or under buckets. This especially happens in utility rooms when they manage to get in there. A simple way to cure that is to fill the gaps up as best you can.
  • Slugs feed on plants and weeds, so if you have any outside your door, slugs will like the environment.

Try using copper tape to prevent slugs from entering your home.

By Mosborne01 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

I Picked Up a Slug and Now My Fingers Are Slimy. What Do I Do?

While it may seem like a good idea to wash off slu

While it may seem like a good idea to wash off slug mucus, don’t do it! Their mucus reacts with water, causing it to spread. Instead of washing it, rub your hand and fingers together. This causes the mucus to ball up (much the same way as rubber cement would), and it is then easy to pick off your skin. Once you’re satisfied that you’ve pulled up the slime, you should then wash your hands for sanitary reasons.

How Can I Stop Slugs From Entering a Flowerbed?

The best way to keep slugs out of an area is to stop them early in the season.

In the early spring, rake your flower beds and ornamental plants to remove leaves and other debris. This will also disturb and remove slug eggs at the same time.

Also work to remove any areas where slugs can shield themselves from the sun. Remove boards, flat rocks and other objects where slugs hide. Even large pieces of mulch can protect a slug. Likewise, don’t pile mulch more than 3 inches high.

An immediate option for keeping slugs out is to sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the border of the area. Slugs do not like to cross over territory covered with a rough or sharp texture that diatomaceous earth creates. An even better option is to sprinkle TERRO® Ant Dust around your ornamental plants. This will kill slugs and many other harmful plant pests, including ants, crickets, cockroaches, ticks and wasps.

Folk remedies suggest protecting your plants with a ring of crushed egg shells or sand, but this doesn’t work. In fact, snails appear to be attracted by the smell of eggs, and sand doesn’t bother them (unless they’re stuck in a desert). Coffee grounds and copper strips, two other commonly suggested folk repellents, don’t work either.

Can I Really Use Beer to Get Rid of Slugs?

Yes! Slugs seem to be attracted to yeast. Beer placed in a small, steep-sided dish or a discarded food container with a lid is one of the tried-and-true traps they can't resist. If you want to keep other creatures from drinking the beer, simply cut two or three openings about one inch wide in the side of the container, all at the same height. Add beer or a yeast-and-sugar-water mixture to just below the openings. Put the lid on the container and bury the container up to the holes. The slugs will crawl in and drown.

4 Cheap Ways to Naturally Get Rid of Slugs

Okay, you tried preventative methods, and now you’re ready to get rid of slugs in your garden without the use of synthetic pesticides. Good news! There are a ton of ways to use traps and baits to reduce the slug population in your garden.

Manually Removing Slugs

As we’ve already talked about, slugs aren’t all bad! If you have a small infestation, just head out after dusk with a headlamp and pick those suckers off your plants. Drop them into a bucket of soapy water to kill them immediately, or move them to an area where birds and snakes can eat them—and the circle of life continues!

Plant Trap Crops

Planting trap crops is easily our favorite way to get rid of slugs and many other common garden pests. The gist is this: plant a crop that the slugs REALLY love to enjoy, they choose that plant from the garden buffet, and then you can sacrifice those plants and concentrate your slug removal methods there.

In general, slugs like to eat the tender leaves and shoots of new seedlings, but some plants are irresistible to slugs at any stage of growth. Slugs absolutely love to eat marigolds and basil. A robust border of either (or both) around your garden can go a long way to draw out slugs from your tender seedlings.

Beer Traps to Bait Slugs

Beer Traps to Bait Slugs

The most common piece of advice you’ll get when dealing with slugs is to put out beer traps. Beer traps are easy and cheap to make, and the traps work well because slugs are attracted to the scent of the yeast in the beer. However, we don’t recommend them as a first line of defense. These traps do drown and kill slugs, but they frequently also kill beneficial insects, so we recommend only going this route if you are dealing with an overwhelming infestation.

To make a beer trap, simply take a clean, shallow container (a cleaned-out tuna can, small yogurt container, or butter tub all work really well), and bury it in the ground with about an inch sticking up out of the soil. Fill the can with beer—any beer works, but slugs tend to really like the yeasty smell of darker beers—and then wait for the slugs to crawl in and meet their demise.

Growfully Protip

Empty and refill your beer traps regularly. Slugs are not as attracted to stale beer as they are freshly-poured.

For beer traps to be successful, you need to place them about every 3 feet—which can become quite costly and labor-intensive for larger growing spaces.

Grapefruit Traps to Get Rid of Slugs

Grapefruit (and other citrus fruit) traps are live traps that are less deadly to beneficial insects than beer traps. Enjoy yourself a half of a grapefruit—scooping out the flesh inside. Then place the empty grapefruit half upside down in your garden. Overnight, slugs will be attracted to the sweet scent and take cover in these citrus domes, and in the morning, you can remove the grapefruit half, take it far away from the garden, and feed the birds!

Growfully Protip

Half a hollowed-out cantaloupe and an orange rind also work well for the grapefruit trap method. Some folks also use upside-down flowerpots or bowls to achieve a similar trap.

How Does Slug Bait Work?

How Does Slug Bait Work?

Baits are available on the market, such as the brands Escar-Go! or Sluggo. When using baits, place them near dark, damp areas of the garden where slugs typically hide. Follow the label directions and repeat as necessary. The active ingredients in most baits are toxic to humans, dogs, and cats, so use them safely and store them securely.

With a combination of strategies, the slug population in your garden should decrease or disappear.

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