Slug Shelters and Hiding Places
Yes, I know... providing a shelter for slugs does sound like harbouring the enemy, but bear with me. The idea is actually to round up the pesky molluscs so you know exactly where to find them.
If you’re of a humane nature you may favour this method because it doesn’t harm the slugs; leaving you to remove them from your garden. Of course, you can still use your inhumane methods of dealing with them if you so wish!
How it works
The key lies in understanding that the slug must keep moist or it will dehydrate and die. During the heat of the day it needs somewhere cool and damp to hide away, so the idea is to identify such places in your garden. Now you have three options:
- Go and look in those sort of places now. I bet you’ll find slugs and snails hiding there in droves, and you can remove and dispose of them.
- Tidy the garden. Clearing it of many such hiding places naturally makes it a more slug unfriendly place to be. This includes removing dense undergrowth and lower plant leaves, and keeping lawn edges trimmed.
- Create some strategically placed slug hiding places of your own to act as slug traps. Now you know where to find them.
Create your own slug ‘Bed & Breakfast’. Provide a little snack – lettuce leaves or a sprinkling of dried cat or dog food – beneath a purpose made shelter.
Ideas for slug shelters
There are probably as many forms of slug shelter as there are gardeners, and here’s a few ideas to get you started:
An old piece of damp carpet or sacking laid on the ground will provide a cool dark place for a slug to shelter.
Lay an old newspaper or magazine on the ground. Use the whole newspaper and wet it. This prevents it from being disturbed by the wind, and slugs love the dampness.
Wood or Board
An old piece of board strategically placed can add rustic charm to the garden and provide a daytime slug shelter. Raise it slightly to allow the slug to slither underneath. Alternatively, fix a couple of small battens to the underside to keep it raised.
The same principal as above, placed between rows of plants where it doubles as a handy walkway. Check underneath periodically. Of course, you could simply jump up and down on it, but please check that nobody is watching!
A flat stone or piece of paving slab can be used in the same way as a wooden board. Again, keep it slightly raised so the slug can crawl underneath.
An old brick has a natural cavity on one side, and this provides another cool hiding place.
Flower Pots & Seed Trays
Ever noticed that whenever you pick up an old flower pot or seed tray, you always find slugs and snails underneath? Go and have a look now, and collect up all the slugs you find.
Polystyrene Plant Tray
Slugs seem to love hiding in the compartments formed by upturning one of these. Weight it down with a piece of wood or stone and it’ll make a natural garden feature. It also helps the environment because it’s one less chunk of non-biodegradable polystyrene to end up in a landfill site.
Empty grapefruit halves placed upside down on the ground provide both food and a place to hide for a slug. Keep them slightly raised or make a small hole for the slug to enter. Remove skin and contents next day, or leave upturned on the bird table. The same can be done with an orange or slice of melon.
Black Plastic Bag
Take something like a black bin liner and fill it with slug treats. An old lettuce or two, handful of dried cat or dog food, cup of oats or bran, half a glass of beer – all the things a slug loves – and lay it on the ground. It’s like a 5-star hotel! Cool dark shelter with plenty of food and drink. Next day simply tie it up and dispose of the contents.
So you can see, there are many different ways of creating natural slug shelters in your garden. Give it some thought... I’m sure you’ll find some ingenious ideas of your own.
Some people like to place a few slug pellets beneath these slug hiding places. It’s better than scattering them all over the garden because it keeps them away from other birds and animals. But only use a few. A concentration of metaldehyde actually repels slugs.
I sometimes use the upturned polystyrene plant tray idea (see above) and place one or two pellets in the compartments. The slug crawls inside to shelter, and the pellets are kept safely away from other animals.
If you do use pellets, please be sure to safely dispose of any poisoned slugs so they can’t be eaten by other creatures.
Where to create a slug shelter
A good place to create these slug shelters, especially if they contain some type of bait, is among your tender plants. The idea is that the contents give the slug something more appetising to feast upon.
Another suggestion is to tuck them away in naturally cool dark places in the garden; the sort of places where slugs always love to congregate.
Tidy the surrounding area and remove garden debris. Now the slug has no option but to take refuge under your kindly provided shelter.
These cool damp hide-aways are ideal spots for a slug to lay eggs, and you might notice a cluster of tiny white spheres when you start to investigate.
Simply leave them exposed to provide a tasty treat for other birds and animals. Remember, every egg destroyed is a slug less next season.
Many of these slug shelter methods have a secondary benefit because some of the natural slug predators, like the ground beetle, love hiding beneath pieces of old wood and stone too. So you’re encouraging more of the good guys into your garden with a home and a ready meal!
Did you know...
The toad loves a fat tasty slug too, and loves the cool dampness of old flower pots and seed boxes.
Nemaslug – nematode slug killer
The environmentally friendly alternative to traditional slug pellets; Nemaslug is the perfect choice for the ecological gardener who hates using chemicals and poisons in the garden. In fact, the nematodes are already present in smaller numbers in most soils, so you aren’t introducing anything new into your garden.
Simply mix the nematodes with water and apply to the soil – job done. Up to two month's protection from a single treatment.
Don’t let slugs spoil your garden this year!
What do you want to do now
A slug lays 20-100 eggs several times a year
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