Slugs are common garden pests that are like snails but without the shell for protection. Their size can be between 1/4″ to 10″ in length and come in a variety of colors from light grays or yellows to shades of black. They will cause serious damage to plants if left to do their thing, young plants are especially at risk and can be destroyed entirely.
Here are a few different home remedies and tips that I’ve gathered over the years, these are natural options that don’t include harsh chemicals.
- Coffee: Save leftover coffee to spray plants that have a problem, make sure to spray underneath the leaves as well as the stems and surrounding soil. You can also sprinkle a layer of used coffee grounds around the plant to ward off these pests. They won’t like it and will likely move on to greener pastures in a few short days.
- Vinegar & Water: Pour 1 cup household vinegar and 1/2 cup water into a spray bottle. Spray the critters on the ground as you see them, but be careful not to spray the leaves of plants since the vinegar & water will damage them.
The idea for using barriers is to prevent or repel slugs from reaching the plants.
- Copper: Copper rings, mesh and tapes can be placed around individual plants to deter them, the slug will receive a bit of a shock when it comes in contact with the copper. Look for these in your local garden center.
- Egg Shells: Sprinkle a generous layer of crushed egg shells around the plant, they will give up trying to reach the plant since it’s so uncomfortable for them to get across the jagged shells.
- Diatomaceous Earth: A natural solution for insects of all kinds (ants, snails, etc.). Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on top of soil around plants with pest infestations. Reapply if it gets wet. Also mentioned in Natural Pesticides: Recipes & Tips .
Set out bait or traps to lure them. Some of the traps will kill them (by drowning) while others will just collect them for you to dispose of, some methods of disposal:
- Submerse them in boiling water
- Douse them heavily with salt or plop them in very salty water
- Drop them in a pail of very soapy water
What not to do: toss them over the fence into the neighbor’s garden–that’s bad mojo!
- Beer: Bury a small dish or plastic container up to its rim so it’s level with the top of the ground. Fill with beer in the early evening and check in the morning–the dish should be full of slugs. Empty the bowl and replenish each night. Change beer every 24 hours to be effective. Some find it more successful to add a bit of molasses to the beer.
- Yeast: Bury a small dish as above then pour in one of these recipes: 1 tablespoon of baker’s yeast, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1 cup of lukewarm water; another recipe is 1 tablespoon flour, 1/2 teaspoon baker’s yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar mixed with 1 cup of warm water. In the morning you’ll find a bowl full of drowned slugs (they are drawn to the fermenting yeast).
- Wet Newspaper Stacks: They will be attracted to the dampness and the shelter the newspaper provides. Lay the papers down in the early evening then check under them in the morning, you should find a happy slugfest enjoying their environment. Get rid of them in the garbage or kill them buy dunking in boiling water.
- Grapefruit, orange, melon rinds, banana or potato peels attract slugs so leave a few piles of them around the yard (you’ll have a bunch of happy critters to deal with in the morning).
Tips & Info
- Did You Know: Birds are a natural enemy of this pest and love to feed on them. Keep a bird bath in your yard (near the problem area if possible) to encourage birds to hang around–they’ll be happy to munch away your pest problem.
- How To Determine A Slug Problem: You’ll notice holes in leaves and silver or dark markings along the leaves (which is a trail of their mucus).
- Did You Know: Slugs are mollusks that belong to the same family as clams!
- They are most active and feast at night when it’s cool, you likely won’t see them unless it’s early morning or early evening. They hide during the day in cool, moist spots with some shelter (under garden rocks, etc.). and thrive in moist conditions, preferring mild weather.
- What Do They Eat? Some of the plants they enjoy feeding on: Mushrooms, celery, potatoes, flowers (pansies), leafy vegetables (like lettuce), green beans. It’s not only the top of plants that they enjoy feasting on, they’ll get down into the roots too.