World’s Longest List of Slug Remedies
The world’s longest list of inspired slug solutions...
Creative mollusc management techniques...
Clever ways of dealing with slugs...
65 ingenious ideas, and growing all the time!
Click on the headings for more information about most methods.
These make a rough protective barrier, and the fine ash also acts as a desiccant that dries the slug out. Wood ash and cinders are preferable. Avoid direct contact with plants.
Never use ash from a fire that’s burnt household waste because it could contain toxins.
A coarse mulch of something like oak or cedar bark chippings makes a decorative and effective slug barrier. Organic mulches, while beneficial to the soil, harbour slugs with food and moist shelter.
A container half buried in the ground and half filled with beer. The slug, lured by the scent, tumbles to its death. Keep the rim raised 2-3cm (1”) above the soil to prevent the slug-eating ground beetle from toppling in too.
An old brick has a natural cavity on one side, providing a cool daytime slug hiding place. Look under any you have around the garden and dispose of the slugs found sheltering. Purposely position a few to create slug shelters, and check daily.
A brick also makes a handy squishing implement. Don’t stand too close!
Slugs are vicious little devils that seem to love nothing more than devouring their own kind. Squish a couple and wait for them to congregate; then squish those too, or dispose of them by other means.
Lay an old piece of damp carpet or sacking on the ground to provide a cool dark shelter. Check underneath during the day and dispose of any slugs you find.
Cat or Dog Food
Slugs are partial to dried cat or dog food and it makes suitable bait, either to lure them away from vulnerable plants or in slug traps. It’s like pellets without the poison.
In exchange for a small fee, you could enlist the help of the children. Little boys in particular relish the prospect of sticky fingers. Perhaps set a challenge; see who can collect the most slugs and snails, with a prize for the winner.
To avoid slimy fingers when collecting slugs by hand, the more dexterous of you could try using chopsticks. For the less dexterous; sharpen one end!
This makes a neat little slug picker. Use it the wrong way round; picking up the slug with the end you would normally hold. Don’t return it to the wife’s peg bag. I won’t be held responsible for the consequences!
Support your pots and containers on copper feet. The slug’s slime reacts with the copper to produce a tiny electric shock that deters it from getting to your plants. They also look elegant and provide your containers with proper drainage and ventilation.
Solid copper rings of various diameter, used to encircle single or small groups of plants to inflict a mild electric shock on the unsuspecting slug. Look for rings that clip together. These are easy to slip round established plant stems, or join together to form a larger barrier.
A copper ring also makes a good slug defeating container stand; or use several to support a board, making a slug proof platform for pots and seed trays.
Self adhesive copper tape that, when applied around pots and containers, gives any slugs attempting to cross it a small electric shock. As well as slug protection, I think it adds a touch of ‘class’ to an otherwise ordinary pot. Can also be stuck or tacked around greenhouse staging, raised beds, plant supports, etc.
Gather up all the slugs you can find in your garden, take them for a little drive into the countryside, and release them back into the wild... Aahhh! Make it some distance from your garden though because I swear the little
bugg devils come back!
A fine powder of crushed fossilised prehistoric sea algae. The sharp edges are like tiny razor blades to the underside of a slug, making an excellent barrier. Unfortunately diatomaceous earth has a similar effect on many small insects, some of which are the gardener’s friend. Use sparingly and selectively.
Collecting slugs by hand is a very effective method, but I must admit, it is rather yucky. If the prospect of slimy fingers doesn’t appeal, disposable gloves are what you need. Thicker gardening gloves make it harder to handle the slug.
Or long-handled slug-slicers; for the gardener who likes to keep their distance. Can also be used for adding that finishing touch to a freshly mown lawn!
Clusters of tiny white slug eggs can be found in cool damp places; beneath flower pots, stones or pieces of wood, or in the crevices between large clods of earth. Expose them to the elements and to birds and other animals. Every egg destroyed is one slug less next season.
An old favourite is to create a jaggedy barrier of crushed egg shells around your vulnerable plants. The decomposing egg shells also release a small amount of calcium, which helps to ‘sweeten’ acidic soils.
Ever noticed that whenever you pick up an old seed tray or flower pot you always find slugs and snails underneath? Go and have a look now. Collect up all the slugs you find and get rid!
Flowerpot Slug Rings
Take a rigid plastic flower pot, carefully cut away the bottom, and wrap one or two bands of self-adhesive copper tape round the outside. This makes a good slug ring; the rigidity of solid copper but at a fraction of the cost.
A good sharp hoe is great for slicing through garden weeds with ease. It slices through other garden nuisances with ease as well... Ho Ho Ho!
Using the handy garden trowel, first scoop up an unsuspecting slug. Now with a flick of the wrist, catapult it into next door’s garden!
An empty grapefruit half placed upside down on the ground provides both food and a daytime shelter. Keep it slightly raised or make a small hole for the slug to enter. Remove skin and contents next day. The same can be done with an orange or slice of melon.
The sharp rasping edges of finely crushed ‘horticultural grit’ makes an excellent slug barrier. Coarser gravel is largely ineffective, other than for decorative purposes.
Always use ‘washed’ grit or gravel to remove any traces of salt. If in doubt, wash it yourself to be sure.
Place sections of capped guttering in slug prone areas. Rub the inside edges with Vaseline and fill the bottom with tempting slug treats (beer, dried cat food, lettuce leaves, etc.) The greedy slug crawls inside to feast but won’t be able to crawl back up the slippery sides. Dispose of your catch next morning, or leave for the birds.
A protective barrier of hair or fur around susceptible plants will entangle and deter slugs, and the cut ends are surprisingly uncomfortable to slide over. An added benefit; hair supplies some nitrogen to the soil as it decomposes.
Yuck! It’s surprisingly effective though, and you’ll be astounded by the huge numbers you can collect on a damp evening; far more than will ever be killed by any trap or poison pellets. Browse this list for some more tasteful slug handling suggestions.
Learn the sort of places where slugs love to hide during the day. Create your own such places in the garden and have the slugs exactly where you want them. Now go to those places and dispose of any slugs you find sheltering.
Keep lawn edges trimmed. Not only does this add that finishing touch to a freshly mown lawn, it rids the garden of another favoured slug haunt. They love the shady tunnels formed between lawn and path edge, and it’s from places like these that slugs emerge in droves to launch their night time attack on your plants.
The lawn edger, or ‘half moon’, is an invaluable tool for maintaining those lovely crisp lawn edges. But when it comes to slugs, the half moon plays an altogether more sinister role!
Having been out gathering slugs by hand, what to do with your catch? I put mine in a plastic bag and deposit it into one of the local litter bins. It might give a nasty shock to the poor person who has to empty it!
Slugs appear to like milk, and this can be used as a ‘beer trap’ alternative. It’ll certainly appeal to the tea-total slug! If you do use milk, be sure to keep it covered to prevent the hedgehog from drinking it and becoming ill.
The environmentally friendly nematode based slug control product. Perfectly harmless to birds, animals, and children. Safe to use around food crops. Most slugs die below ground, but any on the surface are harmless to wildlife if eaten.
Naturally occurring micro-organisms that are a common slug parasite; infecting, and eventually killing it. They’re already present in your soil so you’re not introducing anything foreign into the garden, making nematodes the perfect choice for the ecological gardener who hates using chemicals.
Lay an old newspaper or magazine on the ground. Use it whole and wet it to prevent it from being disturbed by the wind. Slugs love the dampness. Check underneath and dispose of any slugs found sheltering.
Make a scratchy slug barrier out of crushed nut shells. Hard shells like walnuts work best. Start saving them at Christmas.
Slugs seem to love raw oats and bran. Sprinkle some on the ground, or make little heaps. Bloated and dehydrated, the slug either dies or is unable to retreat to its hiding places, making it easy pickings for the birds.
Don’t pack too tightly around tender plant stems. It could cause damage if it gets wet and swells.
Metaldehyde or Methiocarb. Metaldehyde is more common and less toxic, making it the better choice. Use sparingly – 1 every 10cm (4”) – and as a very last resort, because pellets also poison a lot of beneficial wildlife, and even pets.
Keep slug pellets in their proper containers, away from young children and animals. Promptly and safely dispose of any poisoned slugs.
A mulch of pine needles makes a prickly barrier to keep slugs away from your plants.
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! A cool dark shelter with plenty of food and drink. Next day, simply tie it up and dispose of the contents.
Cut the top and bottom from an old plastic bottle and place it over your plant to create a slug barrier. Sink it slightly into the ground to keep it in place and stop slugs burrowing underneath. For added protection, you could add a band of copper tape around the outside.
Alternatively, use the entire top section as a mini cloche, using the cap to regulate internal temperature/humidity.
Have you ever watched the park warden spearing litter with one of those long spikes? If you’re not of a squeamish disposition, you can do the same with slugs. Either leave them for the birds or dispose of them however you see fit.
Slugs seem to love hiding in the compartments formed by upturning one of these, and you can scoop them out and dispose of them. Place a few trays around the garden, weighted down with a piece of wood or stone to double as a natural garden feature. It also helps the environment because it’s one chunk of non-biodegradable polystyrene that won’t end up in a landfill site!
An old favourite is to go into the garden after dark and sprinkle a little salt upon every slug you see. Alternatively, you could collect the little beasties and dunk them in a bucket of salty water.
Keep salt away from your plants – they don’t like it either and will die!
Sharp sand can be used to make a harsh slug deterring barrier around tender plants. It also helps improve drainage in heavy clay soils. Builders sand and play sand are too soft to be effective.
Cut rings of sandpaper and slip them round the stems of vulnerable plants. You could also make a sandpaper mat to stand a pot on.
Sawdust makes a good coarse barrier around tender plants, also acting as a desiccant that dries the slug out. Hardwood sawdust is most effective, and some people recommend cedar or oak.
No, I’m not going into detail! Only for those of you with a strong stomach. Garden hoe, edging shears, sharp knife... they all make a suitable alternative.
Sometimes the unthinkable happens... eek! Don’t be tempted to wash slime off your hands because water just creates more of the stuff. Instead, use a dry towel, or simply rub your hands together. It dries the slime and you can roll it into a little ball and discard it. A little white vinegar can also help.
Collecting slugs by hand is extremely effective, but if you prefer to keep a little distance between your fingers and all that goo, a slug grabber is the answer. Slugs can be plucked with ease from the lawn, or from borders without stepping over the soil.
Also excellent for handling many other yucky items in the house and garden, and invaluable if you have a back problem and find it hard stooping.
Not for the squeamish! Go out at night and spear slugs with a skewer. Leave it on the bird table to provide a tasty breakfast.
How about making a high-rise slug apartment block from a stack of old terracotta flower pots? Return when it’s occupied and evict the residents!
If you prefer the convenience of a ready made beer trap, the Slug X is one of the most effective on the market. It’s been awarded a number of ‘Best Buy’ commendations.
When collecting slugs by hand, it’s surprising how quickly the little
bugg critters escape from their container while you’re busy searching for more. One solution is to dunk them into a bucket of soapy water. It doesn’t kill them but it does prevent them slithering back up the sides.
A smear of Vaseline (petroleum jelly) serves the same purpose.
I’m a squeamish wimp so I don’t favour this method, but many people do. A heavy boot, couple of bricks, the possibilities are endless. Keep out of the firing line; it’s surprising how far splattered slug can travel!
Try standing your pots and containers on steel wool. Slugs don’t like crawling over it.
A flat slightly raised stone or piece of paving slab makes a cool dark daytime slug shelter. Lift it during the day and dispose of any slugs found hiding beneath.
Thorny or prickly prunings can be scattered around vulnerable plants to deter slugs. They stop cats scratching up your garden too... Ooch Ouch!
Having been out in your garden eagerly scooping up slugs, you’ll need somewhere to dispose of your grimy haul. How about feeding the birds at the sea-side!
An old pair of sugar or tea-bag tongs makes a handy slug lifting device for those of you who detest gooey fingers. But please please do not return them to the kitchen drawer afterwards!
Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly)
Smear a 5cm (2”) band all the way round the rim of your containers. The slug’s grip will be broken and it won’t be able to reach your plants. Be aware that this can make containers more difficult to handle.
Although evening watering is often recommended to avoid evaporation, this leaves the ground nice and wet for slugs that are more active at night. It’s better to water your plants in the early morning; it’s cool enough for the water to absorb into the soil, while allowing the surface to dry out during the course of the day so it won’t harbour nocturnal slugs.
An old piece of board strategically placed can add rustic charm to the garden and provide daytime slug shelter. Raise it slightly or fix a couple of small battens to the underside to allow the slug to slither underneath. Turn it during the day and dispose of any slugs you find.
Use an old wooden plank to provide a daytime slug shelter. Placed between rows of plants, it doubles as a handy walkway. Check underneath periodically and remove any slugs you find. Or you could simply jump up and down on it a few times!
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!
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A slug’s slime enables it to glide without difficulty over glass shards, or even the edge of a razor blade
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Manufactured in the UK by Burgon and Ball, this set arrives in its own attractive plywood presentation cylinder.
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by Alan Titchmarsh
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