Using Slug Pellets Effectively

The more slugs ravaged my precious seedlings, the more liberally I scattered the slug pellets. More is better...  right?

“I’ll get the little bast blighters!” I fumed. Other gardeners resort to stacking them into little heaps and mounds around their most treasured plants. However, all these ways are futile because a concentration of metaldehyde actually repels slugs.

Hosta in a container, surrounded by hundreds of slug pellets - WrongClose up of a seedling surrounded by loads of slug pellets - Wrong

How NOT to use slug pellets

So you can see, it isn’t necessary to cover every single square inch of soil, as in the photos on the right.

For the most effective results I’d suggest you stick to the instructions and apply the pellets thinly on the ground. One every 10cm (4”) is more than adequate.

Best time to use slug pellets

Metaldehyde pellets are now more water resistant, so a warm wet evening when slug activity is high is a good time to scatter a few around slug-susceptible plants. The resulting carnage should be collected next morning to prevent other animals from eating the poisoned remains.

...and how

As I mentioned above, one pellet every 10cm or so will suffice. More will simply repel slugs, leaving them free to munch on the next plant, while giving any passing wildlife a more concentrated and potentially lethal dose.

Lay a few in those dark damp places where slugs love to hide during the day; places like cool lawn and path edges and shady herbaceous borders, or beneath stones and old flowerpots. This lures the slug away from your prized plants and keeps the pellets away from other creatures.

In the vegetable plot, don’t scatter them wildly because some will lodge in the plants and contaminate the food. Use netting or pea-sticks on more open areas to keep birds and hedgehogs away from the pellets.

Good idea

Try making a slug trap by placing a few pellets under a slightly raised stone. Slugs love to shelter under places like these, and it keeps the pellets away from birds and animals.

Remember that pellets work by first attracting the slug, so you may like to reconsider where to use them, if at all. Do you really want to lure them to within chomping distance of your precious seedlings?

It might be better to strategically place a few pellets close – but not too close – to your tender plants; perhaps under some shady leaves in the border, or beneath stones or pots or containers. Choose the sort of hiding places where slugs naturally congregate, but that are less accessible to other birds and animals.

Other metaldehyde products

Here are some other metaldehyde based products you might like to try out in your battle against slugs:

  • Metaldehyde Spray – Use this on and around non-food plants. Because it’s a contact poison, the slug gets a dose as it crawls around. Its much shorter active life makes it important to choose the best time to use it; for example, a mild damp evening. Because there are no poison pellets lying on the ground, metaldehyde spray poses a much lower risk to wildlife.
  • Metaldehyde Tape – This is a paper tape impregnated with metaldehyde and other ingredients that make it tasty for slugs. Lay the tape in strips alongside rows of crops, or use it to encircle your cherished plants.
  • Metaldehyde Pads – These work in a similar way to tape. Place one or two in cracks and crevices in walls and rockeries. Bury a few with your seed potatoes to offer long lasting protection against the burrowing Keel Slug and Garden Slug.

Both pads and tape seem largely unappetising to other wildlife, making them an ecological improvement on the traditional pellets. However, the poisoned slugs are still a hazard and should be promptly collected and disposed of.

Slug grabber

For a more elegant solution to manual slug collection, how about this slug grabber? Made from light-weight, anti-corrode aluminium; its 90cm (3’) length allows you to pluck slugs from the lawn with ease, and reach well into the border to pick them from plant leaves without stepping onto your garden.

In fact, you could use it to pick up any yucky items about the house and garden, and it’s especially useful for the person with a bad back who has difficulty bending or stooping.

Slug grabber
Find out more

What do you want to do now

  • Slug pellets
    Before reaching for the pellets, learn about the risks.
  • Nematodes
    Learn about nature’s natural slug control.

Slug Grabber

Long handled slug grabber

Pluck slugs with ease from the lawn without getting slimy fingers.

Reach into beds and borders without stepping on the garden.

This versatile 90cm (3’) aluminium slug grabber can also be used to pick up other yucky items about the house and garden, and it’s invaluable to the person with a bad back who has difficulty bending down.

Slug grabber
Find out more

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Did you

Slugs are hermaphrodite, having both male and female reproductive organs

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