These common garden pests are soft-bodied mollusks 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 roam at will, young seedlings 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 that will help combat these wee creatures, most are natural options that don’t include harsh chemicals.
Fair Warning: The job is unpleasant and the little fellas likely feel pain. If you have any suggestions for more humane methods, please share in the comments section below.
Getting Rid Of Slugs
DIY Coffee Repellent: Save leftover coffee to spray plants that have a problem, make sure to spritz underneath the leaves as well as the stems and surrounding soil.
You can also sprinkle a layer of used coffee grounds around vegetation to ward off these pests. They won’t like it and will typically move on to greener pastures in a few short days.
Vinegar: Pour 1 cup household vinegar and 1/2 cup water into a spray bottle. Spray the pests on the ground as they’re spotted, but be careful to avoid plants since this solution will damage leaves.
The idea for using barriers is to prevent or repel them from reaching the plants.
Copper: Copper rings, mesh and tapes can be placed around individual plants as a deterrent, the critter 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 vegetation you want to protect, they will give up trying to reach the greenery since it’s so uncomfortable and prickly on their bodies 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 in locations with pest infestations. Reapply if it gets wet. Also mentioned in Natural Pesticides: Recipes & Tips.
Set out bait or traps to lure the little fellows. Some of the traps will kill (by drowning) while others will just gather a bunch together (still alive) for you to dispose of.
What not to do: Toss them over the fence into the neighbor’s garden–that’s bad mojo! Besides, they’ll just come right back. They can travel over 20 yards each day
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 their corpses. 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 peek underneath in the morning, you should find a happy slugfest enjoying their environment.
Citrus/Food Attraction: Grapefruit, orange, melon rinds, banana or potato peels attract slugs so scatter a few piles around the yard (you’ll have a bunch of happy critters to deal with in the morning).
I have a few methods of disposal listed below but fair warning: These are unpleasant.
- Submerge in boiling or heavily salted water.
- Use scissors to cut them in half.
- Douse heavily with salt.
- Drop in a pail of very soapy water.
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 snack away your pest problem.
- How To Determine An Infestation: You’ll notice holes in leaves and silver or dark markings along the leaves (which is a trail of their mucus).
- Did You Know: These little fellows 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 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 things they enjoy feeding on: Mushrooms, celery, potatoes, flowers (pansies), leafy vegetables (like lettuce), green beans. It’s not only the top greenery that they enjoy feasting on, they’ll get down into the roots too.