How to Get Rid of Slugs in Your Garden

How to Get Rid of Slugs in Your Garden
Photo: Lisa-S, Shutterstock

If you live in an area with slugs, you know they can be a major garden nuisance. Nothing can ruin your elaborate gardening plans like seeing the remains of your tender seedlings eaten through down to the nibs. Unfortunately, slugs are notoriously hard to control without using pesticides that are damaging to other helpful creatures like bees or causing danger to pets and kids. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to keep them off your veggie sprouts while keeping the surrounding environment friendly for flora and fauna.

Make your garden slugs uncomfortable

To control garden slugs, the first thing you want is to avoid giving them a comfortable breeding ground. Since slugs generally feed at night and enjoy moisture, watering your garden late in the day can attract them. If you opt instead for an early morning watering schedule, you can still keep your water from evaporating in the heat of the day without giving slugs a moist stomping ground at night.

Something else to avoid is loose ground cover. Straw and mulch ground cover can trap moisture and give slugs a comfy place to weather out the midday sun. Using compost and leaf mould instead can offer slugs a less hospitable environment.

Lastly, birds, ground beetles, and snakes love to eat slugs, so having some of these helpful predators around can help control them. Slugs also hate fuzzy, fragrant, and furry plants, so herbs, mature squash, and fuzzier succulent types will all help repel your slimy interlopers.

Set a slug trap if you’re ok with killing them

Making a slug trap is another way of getting rid of slugs if you’re not squeamish about killing them. Using a length of board, like a piece of plywood or 2×4 laid down between rows in your garden will give slugs a cool, damp place to hide during the hottest part of the day. Once they congregate, you can flip the boards over and kill them. You can also use an overturned melon rind for better bait.

Use beer as slug bait

A hotly debated slug lure is the “beer trap.” Most beer trap enthusiasts say to place a plastic lid at ground level and fill it with beer, and then the slugs fall into the beer trap and drown. Detractors, however, will point out that the yeast in the beer may actually attract more slugs to your garden, and it’s not certain how many of them will fall into the beer and drown. If you do attempt this method, using non-alcoholic beer is actually the best choice since the slugs are attracted to the yeast, not the alcohol.

Use copper to deter slugs

Anti-slug science says that you can also deter them with copper, since the slime layer on the outside of a slugs’ body causes a mild shock when it comes in contact with the copper. You can set up shields and barriers around individual plants and raised beds with copper tape, copper mesh, and copper rings, which all come in a variety of sizes and lengths. To be effective, a copper slug barrier has to completely surround the plants you’re trying to protect, so it’s not a universal solution, but it’s effective for new seedlings.

Use a wool slug repellent

To repel slugs from the base of a plant, you can use wool pellets or a wool mat to make a slug repellent barrier. Putting the pellets around the base of a plant and then watering them in will create a surface that slugs won’t crawl on. The mat material can be cut with scissors and placed around the base of plants and will work similarly to the pellets. These are a good option because, in addition to being biodegradable, they’ll last a while without much maintenance.

 

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