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Organic Slug Control

By on June 18, 2013

Tricia made a trap for catching slugs in her organic garden.

There’s no silver bullet for getting rid of slugs. You need to combine the classic Integrated Pest Management [IPM] techniques of cultural, mechanical, and chemical controls. Does that sound too academic? It’s actually very practical. And some of it involves wearing your bathrobe in your garden!

Watch Tricia control slugs with the full range of organic methods.
hunt for slugs at night

Monitor on night patrol

Hang out in your garden and look for unwanted visitors—at night, as well as in the daytime. When the sun’s out, look for the silvery trails of slugs. When the moon’s out, get your flashlight and go on a slug hunt. In the great garden cycle of life and death, slugs are a tasty treat for any backyard chickens you know.

Remove the Welcome mat

Back in daylight, close up happy hiding places when you take away scraps of wood or cardboard, clean out weeds and debris, and pull up all that ivy (rats love to nest in ivy, too) and other dense groundcovers.

Get into drip irrigation

Yes, one more reason to install drip irrigation. Slugs don’t want to cruise over dry soil, they want damp slickness. Overhead watering creates the moist surfaces that make life go so very smoothly for slugs.

safer ant& crawling insect killer to prevent slugs

Get rough, and grow plants slugs hate

Make things rough for slugs instead. If you got around on a delicate, slimy foot you wouldn’t want to travel over shredded cedar bark or cocoa shells. Sprinkle sharp-edged Safer Ant & Crawling Insect Killer around plants to thwart the slugs’ progress; this product is labeled for slug control and contains diatomaceous earth along with bait.

Leaves can be rough too, and slugs really don’t want to move across rosemary, lavender, California poppies, and nasturtiums.

Slug traps, and bait that won’t harm pets

Our organic Slug Saloon (labeled for slug control, naturally) comes with liquid bait (made from sugar water, brewer’s yeast, and malted grain flour) to catch nearby slugs.

You can deploy copper wire like our woven copper slug shields, which are labeled for slug control. The copper reacts with the slug mucus and causes disruption to the slug’s nervous system, similar to the slug being electrocuted.

Want to be non-violent and put up a slug fence? Reminiscent of the popular fairy gardens, you can make a tiny slug fence out of window screen, sink one edge into the soil, and leave the other edge 4” above ground level. The trick here is that slug mucus oozes through the mesh of the screen and the slugs run out of traction as they attempt to climb their way into your vegetable patch.

A simple trap is a 6” piece of smooth wood or cardboard. The slugs will enjoy hiding there, so flip this every few days to find slugs.

If you want to chemically kill the slugs (but not your pets or the other wildlife) with iron phosphate, scatter around Sluggo granules or the other Sluggo products—all are labeled for slug control.

There are lots of slugs in your garden, and you’ll need to use lots of techniques to deal with them.

Strap on your head lamp tonight, and get started on a variety of methods for organic slug control.

  Comments (13)

B

Sluggo can also be placed in the middle of a short length of PVC pipe (anywhere between one inch and three inches and lain on the ground where you have infestations.  The pipe will give them a nice cozy, dark refuge and keep the bait safe from rain and pets. Check two to three times a week.

Posted by Ben Gabus on Jun. 22, 2013 at 10:19:19 AM

J

Great suggestions!  Also check out Slug Shield - it is non-toxic and lasts all season without maintenance.

Posted by Jennifer on Jun. 22, 2013 at 11:24:34 AM

R

Beer traps???  I have found more than a few slugs in my beer traps.  Any studies done on that?

Posted by Rosie on Jun. 22, 2013 at 2:33:16 PM

G

Hi: Here’s a couple tips on snail control—we don’t have slugs, but snails are just the same (I think) except they carry their home on their backs like turtles. Anyway, no, the copper wire thingy you sell isn’t the only mechanical control on the market. Lee Valley sells a roll of flat copper ‘tape’ that you can use to either make collars to put around individual plants, or surround a whole raised bed, etc. AND I’ve discovered at the dollar store, a couple of copper scrubbies for pots and pans (that look like a little old lady’s hair ‘bun’) are 2/$1 here. Unroll them, pull them out full length, and partially straighten a large size paper clip to fasten them into the ground. Snails won’t cross!! There’s some kind of electrical/chemical reaction when their slime hits the surface, and they don’t like its roughness either.  I’m also experimenting with double sided tape—stick it to the surface of a raised bed top edge, then press diatomaceous earth onto the top sticky and snails wont cross that either!

Posted by Gale Green on Jun. 23, 2013 at 12:42:36 AM

Ben, Thanks for that helpful tip!

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Jun. 24, 2013 at 11:07:03 AM

Jennifer, Yes, we like Slug Shields too. Nothing washes away http://www.groworganic.com/slug-shield-size-12-6pk.html

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Jun. 24, 2013 at 11:07:43 AM

Rosie,

Yes! University of Rhode Island recommends the beer-in-the-pie-tin trick http://www.uri.edu/ce/factsheets/sheets/slugs.html

Posted by GrowOrganic.com on Jun. 24, 2013 at 11:35:43 AM

A

Snails are destroying my Hostas, growing where it’s too shady to grow the plants you mention that they hate. Would trimmings of those plants used as a mulch be helpful? I have lots of Rosemary (big, happy plants plus volunteers).

Posted by Anita Oleksy on Jun. 24, 2013 at 2:14:22 PM

F

The tape works good but only lasts a season and it’s kind of pricey.  I put copper tubing around raised beds and it lasts for years and years.  I buff it up at beginning of season.  Only the little tiny guys get through the cracks or they were born in the compost.  I use a lot less of the sluggo then which I’ve found the slugs start to laugh at when it is used consistently.

Posted by Franchot slot on Jun. 26, 2013 at 11:24:18 AM

L

I really like toads and frogs and I know they also eat slugs.
Will Sluggo kill or hurt the toads if they eat slugs that have eaten Sluggo?

Posted by Libby on May. 17, 2015 at 4:59:50 PM

Libby, that is a good question and I have not found any information regarding secondary effects of Sluggo. I have an email into the manufacturer, so I will let you know once I have heard back from them.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on May. 18, 2015 at 11:05:16 AM

Answer from the manufacturer of Sluggo, ” There are no secondary poisoning issues with this product.” So Libby hope this information puts your mind at ease.

Posted by Suzanne at Peaceful Valley on May. 18, 2015 at 11:31:36 AM

M

to R: I am having big slug problem this year, all my veggie seedlings started being eaten. I placed several beer traps on my veggie bed. I use small plastic cups from dollar store, bury them up to the rim, make the soil around cup nicely smooth, then I pour into each cup about an inch of beer. What’s left is mine. After warmer night you find in cups drunk to death slugs. I learned, that these traps even with dead slugs work for two nights.

Posted by Me on Jun. 16, 2016 at 2:52:06 PM

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