For some gardeners, slugs are like a repeating nightmare. They lurk in moist, dark places during the day, and at night, they creep out of their hiding places to feast on young plants, tender shoots, vegetables and fruits. In this way, slugs can completely ruin crops or create an unsightly garden. But how should you get rid of slugs?
First, you must understand why slugs appear in your garden. These worm-like creatures are attracted to moisture and food. The first part of the equation, you can’t do much about. But, the second is more easily controlled. Slugs like to eat leaves, flowers, fungi, decomposing matter, seedlings and vegetables. If you have any of those food sources in your garden, you’ll need to protect it from these hungry mollusks.
Of course, slugs are not the top of the food chain. Many carnivorous members of the animal kingdom enjoy a tasty slug from time to time. Some animals that feed on slugs include:
So, the best way to get rid of slugs in your garden is to encourage the above wildlife to enter your backyard and eat the pests. But, if you don’t have enough of these natural enemies to take care of your slug problem, below, we’ll outline how to get rid of slugs using hacks and built-for-purpose products. Our list includes both natural methods and some more heavy-duty chemical methods as well. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Shock Them
Unfortunately for slugs, their slime reacts with copper to create an electrical shock. But, of course, this is good news for you. One of the best ways to prevent slugs from ruining your garden is to surround it with copper flashing or with this LOVIMAG Store Copper Foil Tape. Simply wind the tape around your potted plants, greenhouse or the entire garden. As an added bonus, copper tape is good for a number of jobs around-the-house in addition to creating slug deterrents. Just note that copper won’t kill slugs; it simply prevents them from entering an area.
2. Discourage with Rough Objects
You’re likely painfully aware of the creepy, slimy anatomy of a slug. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that their soft bodies are particularly susceptible to being damaged by rough objects. It’s only logical, then, that using rough stones, like lava rocks, in your garden will deter slugs from reaching your plants. These red lava rocks are great for landscaping, but if you prefer a more natural look, you can just create a circular barrier with them around your garden or place them over the soil at the top of your pots.
3. Try a Made-For-Purpose Pesticide
BEST SHORT-TERM SOLUTION
Because slugs are such a big problem for gardeners, lawn care companies have started to produce made-for-purpose pesticides, like the Ortho Bug-Geta Snail & Slug Killer. This “Slug Killer” is actually small granules of slug bait that kill the pests when eaten. To use it, you simply sprinkle the pesticide around any plants you want to protect. It’s effective for up to three weeks, even after rain. After three weeks, if slugs are still in and around your garden, reapply the pesticide until your slug infestation has diminished.
4. Go Slug Hunting with Salt
If you’re feeling particularly murderous towards the slugs that want to eat your garden, you could always go on a slug hunt. Once the sun goes down, arm yourself with a flashlight and a shaker of salt. When you find a slug, sprinkle it with salt. This will extract the liquid from its body and cause it to die. This might seem particularly cruel, but it is effective as long as you can find the slugs causing your garden harm. Just don’t go too crazy with the salt, as leaving too much of the seasoning behind can do more harm than good for your soil and plants.
5. Make Things Slippery with WD-40
BEST FOR PLANTERS
To get into your planters, a slug needs to climb up the pot. If you make that climb impossible, the slugs won’t be able to eat your plants. While there are several ways to achieve this goal, one of the most effective ways to do so is to cover your pots and planters in WD-40. The oil means the slugs’ bodies won’t be able to “stick” to the surfaces in your garden. However, you should approach this hack with caution. Do not use WD-40 anywhere you may contaminate the soil or cause an oily run-off in the earth surrounding your garden.
6. Garden with Stinky Plants
BEST LONG-TERM SOLUTION
One of the best ways to naturally get rid of slugs without using harmful chemicals is to rely on plants that slugs find “stinky.” Planting such species in your garden will prevent slugs from taking up residence from the first bloom. Astrantia, in particular, is a small flower that repels slugs due to the scent it emits. You can order Astrantia seeds on Amazon or head to your local garden center to pick up a couple of fully grown plants. In addition, other plants including fennel, rosemary, anise, rue and wormwood work to prevent slug infestations, too.
7. Create DIY Beer Slug Pools
It turns out that slugs like the sweet smell of beer as much as you do, but they can’t consume the liquid and will simply drown in a pool of beer. To use this hack, fill a few old leftovers or margarine tubs with beer and spread them around your garden. Push them into the soil, leaving them about an inch above the ground. During the night, slugs will enter the containers and won’t be able to get out, allowing you to remove the drowned animals in the morning. Any beer you have in your refrigerator will work, but if you don’t have any, you can buy a cheaper beer like this case of Bud Light.
8. Trap Them
The Beslands Slug Traps allow you to humanely remove slugs from your garden by trapping them in these plastic containers. Simply pour beer into the bottom of the container or place some old lettuce leaves or dried cat food in it. Then, bury it in your garden, leaving about a half-inch lip around the top. Put the lid on it to prevent debris or other animals from getting inside and leave it to sit overnight. In the morning, you can remove any live slugs to a remote location.
Unwelcome Backyard Visitors? Here’s How to Get Rid of Gophers This Summer and Beyond.