Collecting Slugs by Hand

Hand picking up a dangling cartoon slug

Urgh...  Yuck!

Not for the faint-hearted!

This must be one of the most disgusting ways of slug control known to man, but it is very effective.

Whereas most other methods, including metaldehyde slug pellets, kill a few tens of slugs in one night, on a damp evening it’s easy to collect several hundred.

Don’t believe me?

Just take a look at your lawns and paths on a warm wet evening and see how many slugs and snails are sliming their way all over them. They make easy pickings.

Slug handling

Don’t worry if the thought of man-handling a live slug sends shivers down your spine. I don’t relish the thought either, so you’re not alone. Personally I prefer to scoop my slugs up with a garden trowel and put them into a plastic bag for later disposal. Snails are more obliging. They come complete with their own little carrying handle!

Here are some ways to avoid those sticky fingers:

Disposable Gloves

If you really can’t bear the thought of getting your fingers all slimy, you can always wear a pair of thin disposable gloves. Thicker gardening gloves make it harder to handle the slug.

Clothes Peg

A clothes peg, when used the wrong way round, makes an excellent little slug picking device (see below).


For fatter beasties, try an old pair of sugar tongs or tea bag squeezers. Note the use of the word ‘old’.


Maybe the more dexterous of you could try delicately plucking up the slug using chopsticks. For the less dexterous; sharpen one end!


Perhaps, in return for a small fee, you could enlist the help of the children. Little boys in particular will revel in the opportunity to get their hands all yucky and gooey!

Clothes peg slug picker

Picking up a slug with a clothes peg

An ingenious slug picker

If the thought of handling a live slug – even wearing gloves – still turns your stomach, don’t despair. A neat little slug picker can be made from a clothes peg. It’s best to use it the wrong way round; picking up the slug with the end you would normally squeeze.

Keep the peg in the garden shed. I won’t be held responsible for the consequences if it happens to find its way back into the wife’s peg bag.

Useful tip

If the unthinkable happens, don’t attempt to wash slime off your hands; water just creates more of the stuff! Use a dry towel, or rub your hands together to remove it. You could also try white vinegar.

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

Slug containment

While your mind is preoccupied searching for more slugs, it’s surprising how quickly the little bugg devils you’ve just collected are escaping from their container.

One solution is to dunk them in a bucket of soapy water. It doesn’t kill them but it does prevent them slithering back up the sides. Another trick is to smear a little petroleum jelly (Vaseline) around the inside edge.

Of course, you could always substitute a bucket of salty water to bring about a swift demise, although I personally think this is rather a cruel method.

Slug hunter

The veteran ‘slug hunter’ goes out after dark, sporting one of those nifty little head-band lamps and armed with a long pointy stick; perhaps with a sharp metallic implement like a knitting needle attached to the end. Spearing the little blighters like the park warden spears litter and leaving them for the birds and other animals to finish off. This is definitely not for the squeamish!

This method does have one drawback though. You might find yourself doing some awkward explaining to your neighbour the next morning!

Daytime slug hunt

A foil tray full of slimy slugs - yuk!

It’s amazing how many slugs you can collect

Although not so bountiful as a night time sortie, slug patrol doesn’t have to be a purely nocturnal affair.

During the day the slug is sheltering from the warmth of the sun, so you need to know its favourite hiding places. Shady dense undergrowth and cool damp lawn and path edges are good places to look.

Stones, logs, pieces of wood, old flower pots – look beneath them all and you’ll be amazed how many slugs and snails are nestling there. Now all you need to do is collect and dispose.

Fun idea

Why not set the kids a challenge? See who can collect the most slugs and snails, with a little prize for the winner?

Slug disposal

Now the fun – or not so fun – part. What to do with your grimy haul? You have basically two options:

  • Finish them off for good.
  • Give them a fighting chance.

Finish ’em off

Some people like to put their victims permanently out of their misery. Here you have various options, such as sprinkling them with salt or dunking them in boiling water.

Give ’em a fighting chance

Litter Bin

Being a compassionate sort of guy, I like to give mine half a chance. One method I favour is to bundle all that vileness into a polythene bag and deposit it into one of the local litter bins. Not too local though; beware the ‘homing slug’.

It’s true! Somebody once proved it with snails by marking their shells. Apparently they’re much better at smelling than seeing, and can follow the scent of their slime trail.


Another variation is to take them for a pleasant little drive out into the countryside and release them back into the wild...  Ahhh!

Flush ’em

My Mum’s favourite method is to flush them down the toilet. I guess the idea is to feed the birds at the seaside!

Busy Main Road

One woman I know lives by a busy road. She likes to fling her slugs over the garden wall and see if they can make a run for it!

Garden Trowel

The garden trowel is a very useful tool. One of its uses is to firstly scoop up an unsuspecting slug; then, with a flick of the wrist, catapult it into next door’s garden. Just don’t say I told you to do it!

More ideas...  see the world's longest list of slug remedies.

What do you want to do now

Suttons Seeds logo

UK’s premier seed supplier

Suttons specialise in seeds, bulbs, and plug plants, plus a range of other gardening equipment.

Suttons Seeds

Did you

Most British slugs eat rotting vegetation, but a few are carnivorous

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

If you like this site,
why not tell your
friends about it