Garden Slugs

Slugs in the Garen
P. Jasiutowicz

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There are many natural ways to get rid of slugs. And let’s be honest. Slugs have to be the one of the most disgusting things you will encounter in your garden.

Slugs will feast on any tender plant, feeding at night and hiding during the day. They have rasping, file-like mouth parts that quickly tear large ragged holes in young leaves. A tell-tale sign of a slug attack is the silvery mucus trail they leave behind. 

Slug Trap: Trap and Remove Slugs

To trap slugs you can put cabbage leaves, boards, wet newspaper, or cut pieces of raw potato in the garden. After a night of slug revelry, they will congregate in these damp shady spots where you can find them and dispose of them as you see fit.

Slug Bait: Bring out the Beer

Everyone knows about luring slugs to a drunken death by placing shallow dishes of beer around the garden. They can’t resist the stuff! Actually any yeasty, sweet liquid will attract them, so keep the beer for yourself and make a gooey brew that the slugs will find delicious by mixing equal parts flour and water with a heaping spoonful of molasses, a sprinkling of cornmeal, and a teaspoon of yeast. Put this goop in shallow containers around the yard and it will have much the same effect as beer without having to ask for ID.

Watch Almanac Editor Janice Stillman play the beer slug board game!

Slug Repellent

Another method of control is to sprinkle a band of diatomaceous earth or wood ashes around your precious plants. Slugs won’t cross this sharp material but it needs to be renewed after every rain.

Copper repels slugs because their slime interacts with the copper and gives them a jolt of electric current.  Harnessing slug power could be the wave of the future but for now, you can make a slug barricade by burying a 4 inch wide strip of copper flashing around the edge of the bed you wish to protect. Unless you have a roofer in the family, copper flashing is pricey stuff and this could be quite expensive. There is a copper-backed paper that can be stapled to boards enclosing a raised bed.

Oak leaf mulch is said to repel them but I have not tested that theory yet. I think I’ll try it around my hostas, which seem to be one of their favorite foods.

What Eats Slugs?

Lightning bug larvae, garter snakes, turtles, and salamanders consider slugs delectable, so don’t freak out and run for the hoe next time you see a snake in your garden. Remember the enemy of your enemy is your friend.

Slugs are in the same zoological group as clams and scallops. Like their cousins escargot, they are probably a delicacy in some foreign country. I wonder how they are deep-fried? I’ll eat one if you eat one first!

See more tips on getting rid of slugs.

About This Blog

Get inspired by Robin Sweetser's backyard gardening tips. Robin has been a contributor to The Old Farmer's Almanac and the All-Seasons Garden Guide for many years. She and her partner Tom have a small greenhouse business and also sell plants, cut flowers, and vegetables at their local Farmer's Market.

Reader Comments

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Slugs

Having tried just about everything from crushed egg shells to an expensive copper “fence” in an attempt to protect my small vegetable plot from the ravages of slugs and snails, I've finally found a foolproof way to keep the creatures out. I have a low concrete wall around my vegetable plot and I stuck a row of beer bottle tops all the way around it. It would take a real super-slug to slither over these prickly things. By the way, I'm not a beer drinker myself but all my husband's friends and also the local tennis club were so intrigued by this experiment that they gladly contributed to my anti slug fortifications. The result? Lots of happy tennis players but no more fretted rhubarb leaves or filigree lettuce. A real win/win situation for everyone except the slugs. So, instead of wasting good beer on the little beasts, drink it yourself and even feel virtuous about it.

slugs.

my granddaughter loves slugs, especially the "giant slug" (we look up the name in a nature book) She plays with it each day when she goes out. she goes and moves this log under the trees. Then she puts it back when
before she goes in. I tell her to wash her hands real good when she goes in to her house and as far as I know she does. I worry about her getting some kind of sickness from them. Can she? Funny thing is she is afraid of most other bugs except grubs but I have talked her into giving them into giving them to mommy bird to feed her babies. No such luck with the slug. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Slugs eat everything so it is

Slugs eat everything so it is possible that they can carry disease and parasites. Oregon State University recommends wearing gloves when handling them. Cultures that eat slugs and snails cook them first - no raw slugs! Maybe you should get your granddaughter a puppy.

slugs

Used the beer trap found it empty each morning. Had happy rabbits and skunks and no slugs. Put out small plastic houses with pellets for control and found all 4 empty each morning. Hopefully not toxic to the critters. Very dry here in southern NH this summer so slugs are not as bad as in the past but enough to be a problem. Using cover for them to hide from the sun has been the most productive so far. Have no critters that eat wet newspaper or cardboard!

Now we know where the saying

Now we know where the saying drunk as a skunk came from!

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