Garden Slugs

July 20, 2017
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 and tricks. 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.