While many pests can cause severe damage to your garden, slugs are some of the worst. They have voracious appetites and can demolish your garden quickly. Read on to learn how to get rid of slugs, and keep them away for good.
Slugs enjoy feasting on the leaves from various garden plants, flowers, and fruits. Even worse, they can strip a plant of all foliage in just a few days.
Although these pests don’t pose any danger to you, they’re a huge nuisance. These jerks cause a tremendous amount of damage to vegetables and flowerbeds alike. They particularly enjoy lettuce, cabbage, basil, violets, beans, hostas, and strawberries, but they’ll eat any plant’s leaves, especially if they’re at ground level.
We’ll show you the easy ways to get rid of these pests and keep them away for good.
The Easy Ways to Get Rid of Slugs
One of the easiest ways to get rid of slugs is to catch and release them. They’re easy to spot, as the slimy, silvery trails they leave in their wake will show up for a few days afterward. Even though they tend to hide under foliage, you can often follow the trails to find where the slugs ended up. Your plant’s foliage is another telltale sign, as the leaves will have ragged holes.
When you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of slugs, remember there are multiple methods to use.
Try snaring the slugs in a beer trap, for example. These traps typically appear like containers with lids for the slugs to enter. Beer is used to tempt the pests because they find the yeast irresistible.
However, you can also use grapefruit rinds to catch the pests. Since slugs hide in moist, dark areas during the day, place the skins upside down and check them for slugs daily.
You can also add salt to plants that seem to be slug favorites. Sprinkle some salt on the underside of the leaves with the most damage. When the slug eats the foliage, it’ll quickly die off instead. Use caution with salt though, as it adds a toxic element to the soil in large quantities, and can burn plant leaves as well.
Slugs’ Hiding Places
Slugs are nocturnal, so the best time to go hunting for them is after dark. You can find the slimy pests actively moving around at nighttime, and you can locate them by looking under leaves or garden furniture. They may also hide under rocks, flowerpots, and other garden debris. Use these items to lure slugs away from the garden and check under them each morning
Once you find the slimy pests, catch and remove them. Place the slugs you see in a bucket of soapy water to drown while wearing rubber gloves. Alternatively, you can place them in a sealed plastic bag and release them in another location like a wild wooded area.
For more serious cases, there are also baits available on the market like Sluggo or Escar-Go. Place these in damp, dark areas where slugs like to hide, and follow the label directions. Then just repeat the process as needed until your slug population has dwindled.
Just not that most of the ingredients in these baits are toxic to both people and pets. Only use these poisons if you’re absolutely overrun, and have no other options.
If you have a serious infestation, for example, try adding slug pellets to your soil. The best time to apply pellets for the first time is before the slugs begin to breed. As such, spreading them in February is often ideal. Please only use this method in the direst circumstances. These pellets are toxic for birds and local wildlife, and can end up seriously harming pets and small children.
How to Deter Slugs from Your Garden
Although there are many natural ways you can deter slugs from your garden, the best way is to create a space that isn’t hospitable to them. Since they enjoy damp, dark areas and typically eat at night, take steps to make your garden unpalatable. Keep your yard free of debris like leaves, and water your plants in the morning. As a result, you’ll make the environment less appealing to them, and deter them from laying eggs.
1. Natural Repellents
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Prevent slugs in your garden by keeping firewood piles off the ground and away from your house. Place potted plants stands, and remove any wood or stones near your plants. These can provide good, damp hiding places for slugs during the day.
An easy and natural way to repel slugs is to create a barrier around plants or garden boxes. Sharp pieces of gravel, crushed seashells, or even crushed eggshells create a gritty mulch. Think of this like razor wire to keep slugs from entering.
Some people also use pine needles, sprinkling them around plants. This method may not offer the highest level of protection, but it can help because slugs will avoid the sharp edges.
Sand is another option, as the tiny shards are uncomfortable when they stick to the slug’s soft body. Scatter sand around your plants in the spring for the best results. Additionally, this can also help retain moisture in your soil.
Create Physical Barriers
Gardeners also use other materials to create a barrier between pests and their plants. For example, placing a copper ring on the ground around the plant. Copper rings are available in various sizes from any common garden center. They repel the pests by zapping the critters that crawl over it with static electricity.
Potted plants are easily protected from slugs by sticking copper tape around the containers’ outsides. When using these deterrent methods, it’s important that your plant’s leaves don’t touch those of other plants. The leaves can act as bridges for slugs to bypass your barriers.
Coffee grounds are another natural cure to deter slugs and snails. Scatter the grounds on the topsoil of your plants or spray them using a caffeine solution. This has been shown to kill slugs and prevent them from feasting on your plants.
If slugs are getting in your houseplants, make sure they can’t get inside your house. Close all exterior doors and replace weather stripping where necessary. You can also add a dehumidifier to your home to reduce moisture levels and keep the critters out, especially in a damp basement.
2. Introduce Predators
There are several various predators you can introduce into your garden to keep slugs away. You can buy nematodes from your local garden center, or save some cash by making your yard more attractive to local wildlife.
A cheap way to kill slugs and keep them away is to use Diatomaceous earth or insect dust. This is safe to use on vegetable patches, and executes a variety of crawling insects as well. It looks a like a chalky powder that you spread on top of your soil. The diatom particles cling to insects or slugs and cut into their skin to aid dehydration.
Nematodes are microscopic creatures that feast on slugs in your soil. These come in packets you can mix with water and apply to your soil via a watering can. They won’t take out a large colony of slugs on the surface, but they will take out young slugs in the soil. Luckily, soil slug population is much higher than surface crawlers.
You can also deter slugs from your yard by introducing live predators. Borrow a few chickens or ducks from friends, and let them loose in your space. They’ll gobble up all those slugs in no time flat. Just make sure you have a safe space for them to rest.
Alternatively, look into methods that will attract the following creatures. They love to eat slugs, and will benefit your garden exponentially:
- Praying mantises
- Birds, such as thrushes
The easiest way to attract these animals to your home is to make your garden more appealing to them. You can do this by adding a pond, which the animals will use as drinking water and seek out as a place for refuge.
Finally, predators like ground beetles are easy to attract to your garden by adding in places for them to hide, like a log or stone pile, mulching, or allowing some areas to overgrow.
3. Use Other Plants
Lastly, you can create a barrier using plants to keep slugs from your garden. Slugs hate plants with strong scents, such as lavender, sage, begonias, and rosemary. Planting these around your garden may help keep pests at bay. Other plants perfect at repelling slugs include:
- California poppy
Keeping these plants near your slug-attracting plants will help lure the pests away. Companion plants tend to pair nicely, and they aid your garden in many ways.
Spotting and getting rid of slugs isn’t hard, but if you don’t catch them fast enough, they’ll demolish your garden in no time. Use these natural cures to keep the slimy pests away for good.