It’s the stuff of nightmares. You wake up one morning to find your prized leafy produce full of small holes. The most likely agent of destruction is the slug.
And luckily, it’s an easy pest to eliminate. We’ve compiled the 10 best methods to rid yourself of this garden enemy.
Eliminate Slugs with an Easy Trap
According to Better Homes & Gardens, slugs hide in damp, dark places. Use this to your advantage by trapping slugs under materials they already love.
Good candidates include large rocks, pieces of wooden plank, and newspaper. A trash bag filled with a few cups of water will also do the trick.
Set your trap in the evening and dispose of trapped slugs the next morning. Placing grapefruit, orange, or lemon peel under your trap will boost effectiveness.
Share a Beer with the Enemy
If you have an extra can of beer in the house, kill slugs with the brew. Simply dig a hole near your slug infestation that’s the size of a disposable plastic container. Insert the container so that the rim sticks out a few inches above soil level.
The National Gardening Association suggests filling your container to within one inch of the rim. For best results, set your trap in the evening when slugs are most active, and in the morning remove dead slugs. Refill beer often, since stale beer doesn’t attract the pests.
Prevent Infestation with Used Coffee Grounds & Egg Shells
This is a favorite method because it makes use of products you’d otherwise be throwing in the trash. Mix together used coffee grounds and egg shells. Sprinkle around your plants to create a slug repellent. Slugs don’t like the smell of coffee or the sharp feel of egg shells. Plus, both products act as great fertilizer!
According to the popular website SheKnows, you can also pour strongly brewed coffee into a spray bottle and squirt directly on slugs to kill them.
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Poison Slugs with an Ammonia or Vinegar Spray
An ammonia spray is a favored slug remedy of Josh Kilmer-Purcell, author of the popular website Beekman1802. Combine one part ammonia to six parts water. Pour into a spray bottle, and then spray directly on slugs. A vinegar solution of equal parts vinegar and water will also work.
Ammonia and vinegar can be toxic to plants. To avoid getting the solution on them, use bait such as a plank, stone, or garbage bag filled with water to collect lure the slugs away from your plants. Once collected, spray to kill.
Fill Your Garden with Companion Plants
To keep slugs at bay all season long, consider adding plants to your garden that deter slugs naturally. Good choices include herbs, such as lavender, sage, mint, rosemary, and creeping thyme. For best effect, locate companion plants close to the plants you wish to protect.
If you have space for a larger flowering plant in your garden, the hydrangea provides protection against slugs while adding an element of beauty.
Poison Slugs with Iron Phosphate
Use an insecticide that won’t harm wildlife or humans. Iron Phosphate, the active ingredient in the popular “Sluggo” insecticide, effectively kills slugs. For best results, sprinkle bait around plants in the evening, and reapply about once a week.
Gardening expert Gary Pilarchik offers an informative YouTube video that demonstrates easy techniques to effectively use Iron Phosphate in the garden.
Import Natural Predators
If you enjoy wildlife, importing natural predators of the slug into your garden might be right up your alley. According to Metro Master Gardeners of Portland, Oregon, garter snakes, birds, frogs, and ground beetles all consider slugs to be a tasty meal. Ducks and chickens also eat slugs.
Setting out birdseed is a foolproof method to attract birds to your garden. Consider adding a damp, shady area if you plan to introduce frogs.
Apply Diatomaceous Earth Powder to the Soil
The University of Minnesota Extension reports that using Diatomaceous Earth, which is available in most garden centers, will deter slugs. The product contains fossilized remains of sea organisms, whose abrasive qualities irritate slug skin. Unfortunately, this method doesn’t work once the powder gets wet.
Any abrasive material will work if your garden center doesn’t stock Diatomaceous Earth. Better Homes & Gardens suggests using dry ash as an alternative.
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Create a Barrier with Hair Clippings or Copper
If you’re in need of a haircut, sprinkle the clippings around your plants to form a protective slug barrier. The popular real estate website, Zillow, also suggests using pet hair. Slugs that get caught in the hairs will slowly strangle. Best of all, hair will decompose so there’s no need for cleanup!
According to Rodale’s Organic Life, copper also works as an effective, but expensive barrier. Place copper tubing, flashing, or thin gauge copper tape around individual plants, or around the whole garden, to keep slugs out.
Hand Pick Slugs Off Plants
This method is not for the faint of heart, but you can effectively remove slugs from plants by picking them off one by one. Drop slugs into a bucket of soapy water to drown. Rodale’s Organic Life suggests using this method in the early morning, or early evening hours to catch the most slugs.
If you have a slug problem in your garden, these 10 methods will rid you of the nuisance once and for all. You can spray them, drown them, trap them, or simply deter them.
For best results, these techniques can be combined and repeated as often as necessary. Most methods require only common household products, like vinegar, hair, coffee, and egg shells, which make them inexpensive remedies to employ.
Don’t wait until your plants are full of holes and your leafy greens are beyond salvation. Grab your gardening gear, head outside, and begin treating your plants for slugs before the problem gets any worse.