34

Most of the seedlings I have planted out this year have been eaten by slugs within a day.

I have my final two runner bean plants that need to go out.

How can I prevent these from being the next feast for the slugs? I don't want to use chemicals so it has to be organic. I am fine with killing them (they have driven me to it!)

  • 2
    Have you tried crushed egg shells? Especially around the plants you want to keep slugs away. – Darius Jul 13 '11 at 18:14
  • @MongusPong Somewhat related: Do techniques to repel slugs also work on snails? – Mike Perry Sep 28 '11 at 21:25
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    I've been at war with the slugs and snails in my garden for the past 4-5 weeks. I thought I would start growing vegetables with my children but this wasn't to be. I started with the beer traps which trapped around 20 slugs/ snails, then made a plan to pick up 20/ day from shrubs/ plants each day (told about the snail tree by my kids). The last few evenings I have gone outside with a torch at midnight and collected a full freezer bag of the most disgustingly huge slugs I have ever seen. I think there must be thousands in my garden and am wondering if there is any such thing as an organic method – user1484 Aug 5 '12 at 9:35
  • A similar question with some interesting alternative answers has been asked on Sustainability SE – THelper May 2 '13 at 22:36
  • I had to a report recently on slug control, looking at all options ( not just organic ) . basically all methods could never be 100% effective so some loss has to be accepted. But its hard to decide where the loss threshold is, especially as organic is almost always higher. I think ducks were the most effective organic method – Nic Jul 25 '17 at 21:06

17 Answers 17

21

Save the beer and make your own traps is my suggestion. It works just as well and is a lot cheaper.

Mix the following and let it sit in a warm place, stirring occasionally until you get a yeasty smell.

1 cup of water
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 teaspoon of flour
1/2 teaspoon of dry yeast

Place it in marjarine containers, pop bottles etc, every 15 feet or so in your garden. It's worked quite well for me. Good luck

  • 2
    I drank all the beer and so I've had to try this one instead. Will see in the morning how effective it is! – Mongus Pong Jun 26 '11 at 21:53
  • 5
    No slugs in the juice this morning. Will try getting some beer today and place it next to this one to see which is more effective. – Mongus Pong Jun 27 '11 at 8:33
  • 2
    Looking forwards to your result! – lamwaiman1988 Jun 30 '11 at 3:18
  • 1
    Lager beer works better than ale... slugs don't like hops – Ben Welborn Jul 8 '16 at 0:23
  • @BenWelborn - I think ales are usually more heavily hopped than lagers. – PoloHoleSet May 5 '17 at 17:27
18

Slugs don't like crawling (sliming? oozing?) over copper. I've seen ribbons of copper and other types of copper bariers sold in gardening stores, but I usually just go to my local hardware store and buy a few feet of thin, non insulated copper wire (8 gauge wire, I think, is what I usually bought). I then bend them into loops and place the loops around the veggies I want to protect. This has worked pretty well for me, and is has definitely been a good way to protect small, young plants from slugs.

Beer traps are also very effective, and I usually use a few of those too, but they tend to catch lots of other crawling bugs. Also, one of the most disgusting gardening tasks I've ever done was empty out a trap full of week old beer and dead slugs. Of course, I did dump it into my compost bin.

One other thing I've read about beer traps is that the non-alcoholic beer is better for baiting than the real stuff. I've never been able to tell that much of a difference, but I can usually find the non-alcoholic stuff on special.

  • 1
    Beer isn't working either. Does it have to be any particular kind of beer? I am trying a cheap bitter that I found on special offer. – Mongus Pong Jul 1 '11 at 8:35
  • 1
    @Mongus Pong - Every beer or fake beer I've put in a container has attracted at least some slugs. Keeping it somewhat fresh is important (empty and refill after two or three days), and you may want to try a couple of different locations to see if you catch more at one place over another. I usually have a few in an area I'm trying to protect, maybe a few feet apart, maybe closer. – rsgoheen Jul 8 '11 at 17:59
15

Here's an idea that makes a lot of short term work but has paid off for me in the long run.

Add a water feature with some shallow (1" to 2" deep) areas. You will attract birds, frogs and toads who will assist in keeping the slug population low. This does not eliminate all slugs, just some of them. And, it takes time for the word to get out that your garden is a good place to live.

  • 1
    Also consider adding roosting spots if you want your garden to be bird-friendly. I've got a few posts for the pole beans, tomato stakes, and a fence around the perimeter. The birds fly in, stop on the roosts to look around, deliver a little fertilizer, and then hop to the ground to grab some bugs/slugs/weed seeds. Seems like a fair trade -- fertilizer for my unwanted junk. – bstpierre Aug 10 '12 at 13:33
  • @bstpierre the birds don't also eat your tomatoes? – Philip Jul 21 '14 at 3:38
  • They sometimes eat the tomatoes a little bit, but bird damage is always far less than insect damage. – bstpierre Jul 22 '14 at 2:41
  • I don't think it was birds eating your tomatoes. I've never had bird as a problem with tomatoes, not saying it isn't very plausible but I would venture that you had rats eating your tomatoes. They are very bad going for the best tomatoes. – stormy Sep 5 '17 at 19:51
9

I have been using "Slug Stop" non-toxic granules for some years now, and they do the job - and withstand heavy rain! They are extremely absorbent and work by extracting moisture from slugs and snails as these contact them. They aren't cheap, but they are the only organic deterrent I have found - and there aren't many I haven't tried! - that gives effective protection against slugs. I don't know if they are available in the US...

8

Hand picking them at night is a great way to get a large population under control. After you have reduced their numbers you could try a few things.

If you have mulch around your plants you may want to move it back away from the plant stems. Mulch is a great hiding place for slugs.

They do not like to go over any rough material so spreading some Diatomaceous earth or wood ashes around the plants will help. Be careful with too many wood ashes as they will affect the pH of your soil. Both of these materials will need to be refreshed fairly often, especially after a lot of rain.

Good Luck!

  • Hand picking worked very well for me. I collect them with a pinch and put them into a bucket with water at the bottom. – J. Chomel Jun 22 '17 at 6:29
  • 1
    I am with you Lynne! Only I make it quick, I hope, by cutting them in half. Seriously, I lived in the land o' slugs! The best way was to go out at night and sigh, chop them in half. After a few nights there was a noticeable difference. Slugs will cover the lawn at night and make themselves available for killing. I hate using salt, never ever killed a single slug with beer or water on purpose. Again I lived in slug heaven, Pacific Northwest. I actually managed to trans locate slugs to the center of Washington. Amazing. They thrived. I went nuts. Wished I had my muscovi ducks again! – stormy Sep 5 '17 at 5:54
7

I have tried some of the non-toxic / organic spread and granules from Lowes and Home Depot. Nothing has matched the success of the beer buried in a cup in the ground. In my region of the northeast this is probably the only method I would suggest and is easily available.

  • Be careful buying anything from Lowes or Home Depot. Non-toxic? Organic? Nothing in my knowledge is non toxic to insects and non toxic to all other animal life. Remember, beer attracts, if they don't get all the way in the beer they don't die. I've tried this off and on forever and in my opinion doesn't work at all. Chopping up slugs on the lawn at night is in my opinion the second best control of slugs. For a few nights every now and then? Get rid of the 'housing' needed by slugs, the old lumber, plastic, rocks is the first defense and control! – stormy Jun 11 '18 at 2:26
7

Slugs are great workers in a compost pile.

Leave a hearty amount of vegetable left-overs (eg: potato and orange peels) outside during the night and come back early in the morning. It'll be full of snails that you can either get rid of, or throw into the compost bin.

You can then proceed to add a wall of egg shells to make sure they stay in the compost bin.

  • Feed them and you control them...sorta. I like your thinking! – stormy Sep 5 '17 at 5:55
  • I did something similar. I used to have an orange for breakfast every morning which I would cut into four sections. I'd put the new peel sections out in the garden after breakfast and throw yesterday's which were full of slugs into a garbage can with a lid. Over time the slugs got fewer and smaller until they were rare. I've heard they love grapefruit rind as well. – Al Maki Jun 12 '18 at 0:48
7

Not sure where you are in the world (therefore not sure if they're available where you are), but have you looked into using nematodes?

Nemaslug Slug Killer

Oz

6

I've tried everything in the above answers. I detest killing. BUT, the only way I was able to make a difference in my garden was to get a flashlight and go out at night while slugs were out of their hiding spots and cut them in half. Hundreds every night for 3 or 4 nights and then it drastically began to reduce. I'd go out every other night, every third or fourth night. I left the poor things with their guts all over my lawn. Someone said that they didn't like being near their dead relatives. I think that is bunk. But my goodness if I didn't have to worry about slugs in a few weeks of this grisly task. It is quick and humane...enough. I also would recommend getting rid of big chunks of wood, rocks around the edges of your planting beds and tall weeds. These are their homes.

I once had two muscovi ducks that gobbled up slugs and snails. Sigh. Then they shat them out on my back doorstep and that was worse...grin, good luck!

For your garden you need to install sheets of plexiglass or metal roofing around the perimeter, a foot high. A foot deep to secure. Beer traps, slug bait none of those work at all. Diatomaceous earth sort of works but the best way I have found is to go out at night with a flash light and scissors and chop chop slugs languishing on the lawn. They love to go out on the lawn at night, I don't know why but they do. Chop chop. Do for 3 or 4 nights. Doesn't have to be in succession. You'll see great results. The best you can hope for.

A slick barrier is the next best.

This is if you have already removed the condos with neon signs saying 'HOMES FOR SLUGS next to easy food'...No rocks, discarded lumber, lumber pieces for dividing, plastic is the worst possible solution. Beer is like neon signage, not a great idea and certainly ineffective.

Slug bait is dangerous for cats and dogs and I have never seen any interest in slug bait by slugs. Remember the word 'bait' means to attract. Similar to those electric fly zappers. They attract flying insects up to 5 miles away just to find themselves zapped into a zillion pieces all over the picnic table with thousands of viruses. Nuts. You do not want to attract pests.

Nematodes I've not tried...beneficial nematodes. Possibly a great addition to chop chop nights. Let us know if you go that route.

  • Killing slugs in place will attract more and more slugs. You'd better take them away to a place far away from your crops (100 feet will suffice). – Jika Sep 4 '17 at 13:56
  • Not a true statement Jika...why would any animal go to a spot where obviously its own kind are being slaughtered? Grins. Do you have something to back this up? I might not know about this...it does go against most rules. – stormy Sep 5 '17 at 5:46
  • Slugs go there because the can feast on the dead bodies of their comrades, with easy to digest pre-digested food... – Jika Sep 5 '17 at 13:50
  • backup:"Leaving dead slug bodies in the traps may also attract slugs. Handle slugs with gloves as they may carry parasites potentially harmful to human health" from here – Jika Sep 5 '17 at 13:58
  • 1
    @Jika ...and on my tiny front lawn cut hundreds of slugs in half. Left them right there. After a few nights of this orgy, UGH (I hate killing anything), cleaning up my debris, I wouldn't see a slug for weeks, months. And I had a major jungle on a 6000 sq. ft. city lot. I tried beer and slug bait and diatomaceous grit...never did I find a drowned slug. I am sure my experience was weird. Maybe I used the wrong beer or sugar solution...but cleaning up the debris and going out for nightly kills worked for me. Good article, thanks Jika! – stormy Sep 5 '17 at 19:36
5

Slugs love the yeast in beer. Bury a container in the ground where slugs can climb in. Fill it halfway with beer and the slugs will climb in and the alcohol will kill them. Another way to control slugs and snails in your garden is to spread ashes from the fireplace around the perimeter of the garden. This will deter the pesky critters. Salt spread around the perimeter will also do the job.. I hope that this helps!

  • 7
    Adding salt to your garden is a bad idea. Slugs don't like it, but neither do plants. – bstpierre Jun 29 '11 at 12:02
  • Salt is a cruel way to kill slugs. Salt has to be dumped on their bodies. Slow ineffective kill. Salt is not at all a solution to kill slugs, sorry. I lived in the PNW. Slugs are a huge problem. Ashes do not work at all either. Diatomaceous earth is better because it is like shards of glass, Ash is not helpful for slug control or soil health. – stormy Jun 11 '18 at 2:34
5

You should try iron phosphate pellets. They disrupt snail and slug digestive system causing them to stop eating as soon as they ingest it.

  • Interesting Kenneth! This is how BT works. I'll look at your post...too bad I now live in a high desert with no slugs (no ticks, no fleas)...grins! – stormy Sep 5 '17 at 19:38
4

Sluggo is highly effective, and it is now OMRI listed: Sluggo gets OMRI seal of approval - aka organic.

4

Here in coastal Maine the nonnative, invasive slugs and recently, snails, are serious pests in my garden. I've tried numerous approaches to control them, and beer did not kill them. I was disconcerted to find that the birds were eating the slug repellent pellets and had to find something else. The tiny slugs are just as destructive as the larger ones. Now I start in May and continue until hard frost.

I go out in the evening or very early morning or during rain and spray them with a solution of water and household ammonia, without added fragrance, about 4:1.

This is very strong, so wear gloves and label the spray bottle. Target the slugs and snails and don't spray otherwise. Avoid spraying it on certain plants such as those in the tomato family, but otherwise the garden vegetables, bedding plants and perennials seem to thrive with the foliar nitrogen they get in this treatment. It's not certified organic but it saves the repugnant task of dealing with dead slugs in traps. It does not work on cutworms.

If the plants are important to me, e.g., small kale seedlings, I erect fences of window screen scraps about 6 inches tall. I also encourage toads, salamanders, and garter snakes, which eat slugs, by keeping boards in the garden paths. Occasionally I turn these over and spray the slugs that hide under them. On the up side, being out in the garden at night or in the rain is just lovely, even if I am on slug patrol.

  • 1
    You are the first person I've heard to say how wonderful it is in the garden at night, especially during rain. Slug patrol. Whoa, I am right there with you babycakes! Get rid of the rocks and boards. Remove the condos. That is the best way to make your garden less attractive. Encouraging slug eaters is perfect. Except, I don't recommend Muscovi ducks if you live in the city...eeeeuuuuw. Slugs are worse after digestion than before! – stormy Sep 5 '17 at 19:55
3

Hand picking worked very well for me. I collect them with (old-recycled) plumbing pliers and put them into a bucket with water at the bottom, and moving the water within the bucket detaches the slugs that try to escape. I unload the slug bucket on my composting pile, remotely from the garden, where they are put at work for my sake.

Remove any hiding places for the beasts within 5 yards of your garden, like branches piles, unattended bushes, mulch piles...

Gathering all the slugs in one places attracts their predators here. My composting pile is a very good place for this because it is under tree shades near a small stream. The slug diseases are also prone to develop widely in a slug-crowded place.

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1

I live in a very sluggy area. I've used beer traps, egg shells, diatomaceous earth etc. But nothing has ever even come close to the success that I've had with iron phosphate aka sluggo. It is OMRI listed meaning it is approved for organic gardening. It's just so much more convenient than using traps and seems to work way better for me. Plus, beer traps actually get very expensive! I drink most of my beer!! Though I must say I am enticed by the recipe provided by Travis above. I am a pretty strict organic grower and I never like to use products that kill anything, but slugs have been such a persistent and devastating problem here that I feel 100% ok using iron phosphate. Sometimes purism costs way more than it returns...

1

Keep a light on. Slugs hate light. place it close to the plants being attacked.

  • Hi Terrence, did you experience this yourself? Do you have any reference to back this up? Moreover, this is not really organic, except if your using bio-luminescence, isn't it? – J. Chomel Jul 26 '17 at 6:55
  • I've noticed that slugs are more active at night. I don't see any reason why they would come out if not for the dark (maybe moisture/temperature, or the gravitational pull of the moon), but I do agree that a source (or telling of experience) would help us have a point of reference for the statement (the same could be true for a lot of the other answers, though). I might suggest adding more details to the answer. Normally, people expect answers to be more than a sentence or two, if possible. – Shule Sep 21 '18 at 6:15
1

Over the past few years I have tried most of the typical approaches mentioned in some of the previous answers, usually only with some sort of success, but never for 100%.

However, near the end of last year, and during the entire winter period, I have allowed our chickens (they are only 3) to walk around anywhere in my vegetables garden. I was told that by doing so, the chickens will search, and find / eat, all the slugs "eggs" (not sure how they are called in English). That way, around spring time, these "eggs" cannot become real slugs.

And believe it or not, but this year I cannot remember I saw even 1 slug ... even though I have not done anything myself to fight them. So get some chickens to do the work during winter time to take care of the slugs ... And as a bonus you'll enjoy the eggs you get from your chickens.

Attention: make sure to keep the chickens out of your garden during spring / summer, to avoid your garden will look like a battle field (because the chickens had a great time digesting it all).

Plan B: as an alternative to chickens, you should try to make your garden attractive to frogs. Because they also seem to "like" slugs (i.e go after them). And BTW, chickens and frogs are compatible (you could combine both approaches).

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