How Do You Control Slugs Naturally?

  • Editor: Melanie
  • Time to read: 9 min.

If you are a gardener and have experienced the frustration of slugs eating your plants, then you may be wondering how to control slugs naturally.

Slugs have the power to wreck your garden! These pesky molluscs love sneaking up on unsuspecting plants and feasting away, before slithering back into their habitats. If your plants are slug infested, that could sabotage all the efforts you’ve made to ensure they thrive and give you healthy produce.

Slugs are a common problem in gardens, and they can ruin all your efforts to grow healthy produce.

Most people are faced with the trouble of finding an effective way to get rid of slugs without resorting to harsh chemicals. Slugs will eat away at plants and leave them withered or outright kill them with their acidic stomach juices. They can be difficult to get rid of without resorting to chemicals that you might not feel comfortable using around food crops or children’s play areas.

This blog post will cover different methods of controlling slugs: from natural remedies like beer traps or copper tape, to more scientific approaches such as slug bait pellets or granules that kill slugs but not other animals such as birds.

Why are Slugs Bad for Gardens?

When you think of a garden slug, you’ll probably first remember their slimy, icky nature. Some slug species are natural decomposers which mean they eat decaying plant or animal waste. However, there are others which favour living plants. This is the species gardeners struggle to deal with. However, the right tips will enable you to do this successfully.

There are few things as frightening to most gardeners than the thought of slugs. They will eat any kind of vegetation, but prefer tender leaves which means that particularly sensitive plants or seedlings may be vulnerable to their damage.

Slugs also enjoy vegetables and fruits – causing unsightly destruction to crops!

Slugs are sneaky little pests that can wreak havoc on your garden. Unlike their more well-known relatives, slugs don’t have a hard shell protecting them from predators or the sun; instead they rely solely on their mantle to protect themselves and feast during short periods of rain in order to avoid direct sunlight. Luckily for you this means that most of these slimy creatures will be found hiding under rocks or in other damp areas like leaf piles, mulch beds around trees, dark corners near plantings where it is cool enough but out of full view!

The first problem encountered when it comes to dealing with slugs[1] is a wrong diagnosis. Slugs are active at night but won’t be found on the plants during the day. Gardeners will usually only notice the damage done to the crops but will be unable to locate the culprit. The gardener might resort to using an insecticide spray for insects and that won’t help with the mollusc pest.



With the wrong diagnosis to contend with, controlling slugs in the garden isn’t any easier. The common hand picking method will be both stressful and disgusting as slugs are slimy creatures. Also, I doubt you’ll fancy moving around your garden at night to pick up some icky slugs. This makes dealing with a slug infested garden problematic for gardeners.

Slugs are a nuisance to have in your yard, and it’s important that you know how to identify their damage. If you correctly pinpoint what kind of problems they’re causing for the plants in your garden, then we can work together on saving them!

What does Slug Damage Look Like?

Slug damage can be identified by large, ragged holes in leaves and flowers. It is also present during the spring when traces of silvery slime can be found on chewed leaves or along the ground after slug activity has occurred.



Below are tips to help you identify slug damage:

  • If you observe all that is left of your seedlings are midribs and stumps then slugs are probably to blame.
  • Slime paths on your plants, walls or anywhere around the garden tells you there has been a slimy visitor.
  • Precise, round holes in soft fruits such as tomatoes and strawberries should inform you slugs are around.
  • Holes around leaf edges or their centre was most likely inflicted by a slug


Organical Ways to Control Slugs

  1. Prevention Techniques

This is the first step to take when dealing with slugs. You can be proactive and take some precaution even before you notice any damage.

Here are some prevention tips that will help –

  • Instead of loose mulches (shredded wood, straw or hay), opt for leaf mould or compost.
  • Don’t water your garden at late hours since you know slugs prefer a wet environment. You should do so in the morning and it’ll dry up by evening.
  • Drip irrigation is more preferable to the overhead type because the plants will take up moisture from the roots
  • Slugs don’t like plants with strong fragranced foliage like most culinary herbs. Furry foliage also repels slugs. These kinds of plants can safely be called slug resistant.
  • Various predators feed on slugs. If your garden is attractive to predators such as snakes, toad, frogs and lizards then slug control won’t pose much of a problem for you. Snakes are excellent slug predators, a few snakes in your garden will keep slugs away.
  1. Don’t Use Pesticides

The use of pesticides on your lawn kills all insects including beneficial ones that help with slug control like fireflies. Rather than harming good bugs with pesticides, go for organic methods to control slugs and allow nature to play its part as well.

As an alternative, it’s an open secret that slugs and snails are attracted to beer, wine, and yeast products. In fact they’re so drawn in by the smell of these substances that just pouring a small amount into a plastic ‘deli’ container buried up to its top will attract them towards it like magnets!

And once inside this tiny death trap waiting for their slow demise you can sit back with your favourite beverage knowing there’s one less slug on the loose.

  1. Trap Slugs With Boards

This method is effective in getting slugs out of your garden as you’ll use their natural tendency to hide in moist areas against them. Get 2 by 4 inches boards and place them between plant rows. The next day, flip it over occasionally to remove any slugs or snails that have crawled under it. You can just flip over the board and dispose of them!

  1. Use Some Wool

Wool is another weapon to use in the fight against slimy invaders. Just like us, slugs don’t enjoy touching itchy wool and will naturally avoid it if given the chance. Wool is often compressed into pellets called Slug Gone that are used for this purpose as well!




If you get these pellets, surround the base area of your plants with them then water and the pellets will expand in a short time. The wool serves as an obstructive surface which prevents slugs from climbing the plant as they wouldn’t want to touch the wool. This method gives a lasting result.

  1. Use Copper

If you’re looking for something more low-maintenance, copper collars can help keep slugs away from your garden beds and pots. To do this, simply staple or nail the tape into place around the entire edge of each bed or pot. Copper is also known to be useful in containers as it will create a barrier that keeps any slimy neighbours at bay!

Due to the slimy residue slugs leave on their trail, they’ll feel an electric ting when travelling on copper so slugs won’t want to deal with something so discomforting. With copper tape around your plants, you’ll be able to wade off these slimy molluscs. While this is a simple method for small gardens, it might be more difficult to implement for large garden spaces.

  1. Build a Slug Fence

You can build your very own electric fence to keep slugs away from the most precious plants. A little electric fence around an elevated bed powered by a battery of 9 volts will zap any slug that comes close. It’s sure to be safe for you, humans or pets alike – the safety net is in not actually hurting them with electricity (although they’ll definitely feel something).

You’re going to need a few tools and some supplies before you get started: copper wire at least 30 feet long; galvanised nails 1 inch wide x 3 inches long; heavy duty electrical tape – preferably orange so as not confuse it with upholstery fabric when assembling; AC power adapter, DC plug positive terminal negative ground connector and lead wires.

  1. Slug Bars Work Too

With the help of a little beer, you can turn your garden into slug paradise! By setting up traps and filling them with yeast-rich suds slugs will be lured in to tune their death song. You’ll want to make sure they are emptied regularly because if left too long these slimy creatures could grow out of control.

You don’t need to be an expert gardener in order to prevent slug infestation. All you have to do is set out some beer traps and slugs will become attracted by the yeast only then die when they get too close, thanks for their own undoing. If you want a more permanent solution, try mixing up one ounce of cayenne pepper with three cups of water and use that mixture instead – this should keep the pests away because it burns like hell!

  1. Organic Slug Baits

The use of organic slug baits is a great way to control slugs in your garden. However, ensure that whichever you use isn’t poisonous to other wildlife or pets as you’re only fighting one enemy. Slug baits which contain metaldehyde or methiocarb are toxic and can harm mammals. They can harm your pets especially if they’re young.

How do you solve the problem of not using the wrong bait? Find specific organic baits targeted at controlling slugs. The active ingredient present in such should be iron phosphate; they won’t harm any other wildlife or your pets. Garden Safe Slug, Slug Magic and Snail Bait are examples of brands which sell safe slug baits. To use the bait, sprinkle on the soil with your plants and slugs will take the bait in. They’ll stop feeding on your plants and die after some days.

  1. Use of Diatomaceous Earth

While many slug control methods offer their own pros and cons, diatomaceous earth appears to be the most efficient. It is an old technique that still has a way of working beautifully even when it’s wet outside because its sharp edges cut through slugs’ bodies with ease. However, if you want this method to work for your garden without any hiccups whatsoever then make sure you stay on top of things by replacing dirty soil in front of plants after heavy rain so they can keep growing healthily.


How Slugs Feed & Reproduce

Slugs have tiny teeth shaped like graters which they use to cut up leaves before digestion. Unlike smooth holes caused by caterpillars, slug holes are visibly jagged and rough-edged. Slugs leave a mucus trail behind as they move; the mucus not only helps prevent desiccation but also informs their friends of where they’re at! This information alone can help you identify damage from slugs more easily than if it was just your garden that had been ravaged without knowing what left those trails in its wake!

Most slugs are hermaphrodites; this means their bodies contain both female and male reproductive parts. However, they are unable to fertilize themselves without a partner. It’d be weird if they could, right? A single slug can lay hundreds of eggs throughout its life, usually in groups with about 30 eggs each. Slugs lay eggs in moist environments and they remain dormant until the weather conditions are right. Gardeners in rainy regions know how important it is for them to get rid of garden slugs.

Final Thoughts

Gardeners go through a lot to ensure their plants are in a good, healthy condition. Slug infestation can damage our plants so it’s only wise that we know how best to remedy the situation. These 9 organic methods above will help you wade off the unwanted, slimy visitors and keep your plants in a healthy condition.

Slugs are often hard to see because they live in the soil or mulch around plants. They can damage your garden by feeding on plant roots, fruits, vegetables and flowers with their slimy trail left behind them on leaves and stems.


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