Slugs : Gardeners' Enemy #1

, written by Jeremy Dore gb flag


If there’s one garden pest that gardeners hate more than any other it’s slugs.  After weeks of carefully raising small plants from seed, checking their moisture levels and carefully hardening them off outside, slugs can wreck it all.  You take your prize seedlings, spend a hard day’s work planting them out and wake up the next morning to find them gone: often just the little stumps of stems and a slimy trail pointing the finger at the culprit.  So what can be done?

In years gone by there was one standard answer: slug pellets.  Spread a few around your crops and you wouldn’t have to worry about losing your plants.  But slug pellets are poisons that cause considerable distress for pets, wildlife, birds and beetles.  They usually contain metaldehyde (a pesticide) or methiocarb (an insecticide), neither of which are in keeping with organic principles.

So what solutions are open to the organic gardener?  There are five main methods:

  • Use Barriers: a ‘moat’ of gritty substances around your crops, copper rings (which produce a slight electric shock to the slugs) or plastic barriers (commercial or made from yoghurt pots) are all options.  I’ve tried all of them but with mixed success – the slugs I get in my greenhouse seem to get past most of them!
  • Drown Them:  Slugs love beer, milk and most sugary/yeasty liquids and are attracted by the smell.  So, saucers of beer sunk into the ground will attract them in and drown them – a relatively nice way to go perhaps?  The resulting ‘drowned slug soup’ does need to be disposed of regularly though!
  • Picking Them Off By Hand: Slugs come out at night, so a regular torch-lit trip to the vegetable plot at dusk can often reveal them ready for picking up and disposing of – or placing in a sealed container until the morning when they can be killed or fed to birds/chickens.
  • Birds and Frogs: Birds may cause problems when it comes to ripe fruit and can scratch up young seedlings while searching for worms but they are great at finding slugs and snails.  Frogs, too, can roam right through a garden reducing slug numbers if given a good pond environment to live in.  The problems are areas where they can’t easily get to: a closed greenhouse, or brick and stony areas where the slugs can hide.
  • Sacrificial seedlings and bigger plants: Slugs always go for tender seedlings in preference to established plants, so one option is to raise plants to a good healthy size in a slug-free area (such as a conservatory) before planting them out in their final positions.  This can be coupled with providing some young foliage or seedlings for the slugs to eat in preference.  The trouble is that this becomes a lot of work when you are talking about any reasonably sized vegetable plot.
  • Biological control: An application of microscopic parasitic worms, called nematodes, is mixed with water and applied to the soil.  The nematodes burrow into the slug and then breed inside it, stopping the slug from feeding as it swells up and eventually dies.  It works well, even in wet weather but is not effective against snails.  Personally, I think the long drawn-out death that the slug suffers (7-10 days) is not for me but it is widely used in organic agriculture.
  • Slug barrier

I have tried all these methods apart from nematodes with varying success.  Sometimes I gain the upper hand and through meticulously waging battle on the slugs I manage to raise early productive plants.  Sometimes the slugs get through and, as happened last month, reduce a row of early peas to nothing in one night. 

This year I am trying to win the battle by stealth: by concealing small plants and letting nature’s own predators do most of the clearing up for me.  So nothing is going to be planted in the greenhouse bed until birds have had a good root through – everything is being raised high up or in large terracotta pots beside my house until I absolutely have to plant out.  Then I’m going to go for a blended combination of techniques:

Slugs in a beer trap
  • Encouraging birds and frogs in the garden and opening up my greenhouse to them
  • Waiting until plants are relatively big (a good 10cm/4 inches or more) before planting them out, then using yoghurt pots to protect them in particularly vulnerable areas and leaving some sacrificial leaves or seedlings for the slugs to eat in preference to my plants
  • Copper tape around the terracotta pots to stop slugs climbing them
  •  Drowning them in beer – the excellent ‘Slug-X’ trap works well in my greenhouse and can be set up a few days before planting out
  • Using old slate, empty coconut shells and grapefruit skins to provide little moist havens that the slugs hide in at the end of the night.  In the morning I can just pick them up and dispose of the slugs elsewhere.
  • Some late-night slug hunts by torchlight

I’d love to hear your ideas on what works well, so do add them below as a comment...

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Show Comments


"When living in Wales, where our slugs were the size of fat mice, beer traps were the preferred option, triple strengh lager, half to the slugs, half to us, followed by a somewhat circuitous night search."
zooms on Tuesday 8 April 2008
"The 'half to the slugs, half to us' idea sounds very appropriate - I've always found the night search option to be a bit of a drag but that's a much more positive way to look at it!"
Jeremy Dore on Wednesday 9 April 2008
"I use the following method, based on the fact that slugs don't eat these aromatic herbs: I sprinkle lavender and rosemary sprigs around the beds and I believe the aroma deters slugs. The sprigs last a long time before needing replacement and they cost nothing. Good luck"
Alan Parkin-Coates on Saturday 19 April 2008
"Lavendar and rosemary sounds like an great idea I must try myself - I have an over-abundance of these growing as bushes so it would be a very easy way to repel the slugs - thanks."
Jeremy Dore on Sunday 20 April 2008
"I've used these for the last couple of years: - they're approved by Garden Organic, but I must confess I'm a bit nervous that I shouldn't be using them. Anyone got an opinion?"
Andy Parsons on Monday 21 April 2008
"I pick the slugs in my garden and put them in a hole in the compost bin. Now,I understand that slugs eat earthworms. What eats slugs in the compost? earwigs? centipeds? other slugs? I have noticed that the number of large tiger slugs is increasing in my garden. Is this because they are getting fat on earthworms and/or other slugs? in the compost? Is it better to throw them into the road and let them get squashed by traffic? "
Nina Pattison on Monday 28 July 2008
"Nina, I have a few big slugs and hundreds of earthworms in my compost bin and it doesn't seem to reduce the number of worms (in fact I have such an exceess of red earthworms I have been known to give them away to family starting compost heaps). My understanding is that slugs love rotting material and actually help the composting process, eventually dieing of old age. They rarely leave the compost bin as there's everything they love there(although I don't plant anything edible near the bin to tempt them). But I don't usually add them to the bin - I suppose that might tip the balance against the earthworms ... not sure."
Jeremy Dore on Monday 28 July 2008
"I like knowing that they eventually die of old age...and why should they ever leave this paraadise into which they are cast....I will keep on composting them - it's certainly better than salting them - and let the worms work it out with's really those giants that worry me...they're so big and they travel so far to eat my garden bed. Are automobiles really their only predator? Thanks, Jeremy, for your response. ps one of the google sites does show one eating an earthworm. Perhaps it was already dead!"
Nina Pattison on Tuesday 29 July 2008
"Nina, The best predators for slugs are toads and frogs, so building a garden pond is a great idea. Here in the UK hedgehogs are also very good at eating them, though they are less easy to attract to a garden since they roam around a lot. Birds sometimes eat slugs but in my experience they often prefer worms!"
Jeremy Dore on Tuesday 29 July 2008
"Seaweed meal is also effective as the salt deters the slug. In polytunnels use it around the edges. The meal stays on the top of the soil.The seaweed dust is washed into the soil it is good as a soil improver and breaks up heavy soils."
Michael Casey on Wednesday 10 September 2008
"We all know about slug-pubs but they use up quite a lot of beer. Following is my own invention/improvement on the usual slug-pub. Take two yoghurt pots. Prick med. sized holes in the bottom of one - the 'sieve pot'. Place the sieve pot inside the other. Fill with beer and bury as usual. Now make a roof! Take one margarine tub upside down and cut two little doorways in it large enough for the slugs to crawl through. Place over the slug-pub and weight with a stone. About twice a week inspect your pots, lift out the sieve pot, leaving the beer behind - throw out the dead slugs and replace. You will only have to top up the beer now and again and it doesn't get diluted by rain. Works wonders! The first night, in one pot, I caught 60 of the small slugs that do a lot of damage. "
Sonia Gwilliam on Saturday 20 September 2008
"Sonia - what a great solution to this problem! I shall try this next year."
Jeremy Dore on Sunday 21 September 2008
"P.S. The slug pot houses with basement swimming pools can look a little unsightly. Use your imagination to disguise them, either by painting the margarine tub green or, as I do, make sure they are covered with the foliage of other plants. They do work a treat, I promise you. And at least these little creatures should die happy!"
Sonia Gwilliam on Sunday 21 September 2008
"when putting yeasty mixture or beer out for the slugs use a mayonnaise jar or any other kind that has a smaller neck than belly, Put your liquid in it and place it on its side so the slugs can get in and the beer cant get out nor can the rain dilute it! my slugs have all gone away now. where do they go? "
nina on Monday 22 September 2008
"I have heard that if you place fresh cabbage leaves on the ground near your rows of veg, the slugs will hide under them at night, and then in the morning you can dispose of the leaves."
carolyn on Thursday 19 February 2009
"Carolyn, Yes, I use a similar method with coconut shells and grapefruit skins to collect them. They love these damp moist places like the under-sides of cabbage leaves."
Jeremy Dore on Thursday 19 February 2009
"I often ask my local pub for the beer left in the drip trays at the end of the night- i dont like wasting good beer for slugs!"
caroline scott on Friday 27 February 2009
"I used to live in Mississippi where the slugs are huge and many. I used to make up a spray bottle and fill it with half water and half vinegar. Then at night I would spray them with my mixture and they die. It works better than salt! They used to come up on my porch but I did not try it in the garden so don't know how the vinegar would affect the plants..."
Connie on Wednesday 4 March 2009
"I've made new raised beds. How long will it take the slugs to find them? No plants yet. Too early here in Scotland. Frost still in early morning and clear nights. "
eilean on Monday 20 April 2009
"Eileen, not as long as you might think! I would put out some sort of slug trap as soon a few days before seedlings are going into the ground. That being said, I get very few slugs in my front garden which is exposed with few places for them to hide and lots of birds to eat them, so you may be lucky. However, I still have at least one slug trap there on the salad bed and found a snail in it this morning."
Jeremy Dore on Monday 20 April 2009
"I have found that slugs and snails hate salt! When I put my seedlings out, I put a ring of salt or sand and salt round the veggies, and hey presto most survive!"
Pauline Kentell on Thursday 28 May 2009
"Pauline, I can understand this working because slugs hate surfaces that dry out their mucus and salt would do this. However, salt is not good for your plants, so unless you are putting the salt onto a hard surface surrounding your vegetable bed then you could run into problems later on."
Jeremy Dore on Thursday 28 May 2009
"My raised beds seem relatively slug free. I decided to keep all my egg shells and crush them fine and mix with sharp sand. So far they have not eaten any of my lettuce seedlings. I have picked off about two a night and they are only very tiny. Round the raised beds I did the lavender round the outside - planted a few plants."
Eilean on Thursday 28 May 2009
"I've been using used coffee grounds with success - sprinkled around individual plants and along the edges of the garden beds. The coffee grounds also add nutrients to the soil."
Erma on Sunday 14 June 2009
"I inspected my veg patch this morning and found to my horror all af my lovely cabbage have been a midnight feast for the slugs, also my lovely lettuce that was doing so well nibbled on. THIS IS WAR. I have got all the milk cartons and large coke bottles that I can find, took the bottom of of them and took the tops of the bottles for air. I put vaseline around the middle to stop the slugs crawling up the bottles. I put the bottles over my lovely cabbage and lettuce and put soil around them to see if this will stop the dreaded slugs. I remmber seeing this on some show on T.V years ago and I thought that I would give it a try . I will keep you informed of how well it work's. Fingers crossed."
Grace Shovlin on Monday 22 June 2009
"i have a beautiful blue spruce that i planted this year. it's about 3 feet high and tonight i saw slugs all around it. Can they hurt my tree? i hate to use pesticides because of the many birds around and my two cats. If need be i will use beer. your comment would greatly be appreciated."
Rosita Collin on Tuesday 25 August 2009
"Rosita, Slugs are rarely a problem with trees - only sometimes going for young leaves on small potted varieties. So I would simply keep an eye on it and only do something if you notice damage. One good method for trees is to use a 1 inch copper ring around the trunk of the tree which slugs don't like to cross. It must be close-fitting and you can buy adhesive copper tape that may make this easy, although it should probably be replaced in a different position each year to allow the tree trunk to grow. Beer traps are the other good alternative, or doing a check each night with a torch and removing them. Good luck!"
Jeremy Dore on Tuesday 25 August 2009
"No probs with snails I put pictures of frogs all around my raised vegie patches and hey presto no more snails. Works on all snails but the blind ones. Daa if you beleave this you have more than a snail problem "
Andy McCracken on Thursday 1 October 2009
"I found the salt worked well, and of course, as rightly pointed out, did not put it too close to the young plants. When I was watering our newly acquired allotment, I was delighted to see a frog amongs the cabbage plants! We have had problems with holes in the leaves of the cabbages, and thought it was slugs and snails, but no! We put up bird scarers to keep the pigeons off, (I use old drink cans with a small stone in strung from string on a can, it rattles in the wind, and also old crisp packets and old cd's strung up also work really well!) However, we discovered that caterpillars were the problem! We netted the greens, and then discovered that as the plants grew, the butterflies were perching on the nets which were just touching the leaves and laying their eggs through the net!!! What a lot to learn! But what fun!"
Mrs Pauline Kentell on Friday 2 October 2009
"Can anyone help? I was very kindly given a very strong Invicta gooseberry plant earlier in the summer. It stayed in it's pot outside my back door very happily until one morning, (the day I was going to plant it in the allotment in fact!) I notice that nearly all the leaves had been stripped off! Having watched the Victorian farm program on the bbeeb last night, I saw that the lady had trouble with something she called sawfly on her gooseberries. Could this be what my gooseberry has and is there any remedy and will it recover?"
Mrs Pauline Kentell on Friday 2 October 2009
"Pauline, Yes, sawfly caterpillars are a prime culprit for the stripping of all the leaves on gooseberries. The usual advice is to keep a close eye out for the first sign of holes on the leaves, using your hands to remove the caterpillars as soon as they are spotted. I can't say if the bush will survive given that it was only recently planted but there is a good chance that it will be OK."
Jeremy Dore on Monday 5 October 2009
"I seem to be hosting a herd of slugs....big, long (4 - 6 inches) black and brown, really quite handsome if they weren't slugs. They get put in the compost bin as soon as I see them. I have a mayonaise jar on its side containing beer. ( Saranac black and tan) much too good for them but they dont like it anyway. I have to pick them up with a trowel and put them in the jar where, I assume, they drown happy. Then I flush them down the toilet. I hope I am not fostering a whole fleet of giant slugs in the Hudson River by doing that! The earthworms keep proliferating. The slugs are big enough to have personalities!!!!!!! I sincerely hope they dont! "
Nina Pattison on Monday 5 October 2009
"COFFEE GROUNDS.. Use coffee grounds in your compost, mulch and sprinkled on your garden. Every where. It smells great and really works. Seems that the slugs and snails like it and it speeds up their heart rate so much they have a coronary. I have used this for some time and with excellent results. It is supposed to also work for nematodes so I use it in with my carrot plantings. Best of all. It is free. Most cafes are very happy to give it to you. And a good excuse for a nice relaxing visit and a latte."
Rosalie on Wednesday 18 November 2009
"I found a great way to stop slugs and snails if you have a raised bed (hopefully with wooden sides. I paint the wood all around with grease about three inches wide then throw sharp sand on, the sand clings to the grease and hey presto no slugs and snails They don,t like either (sand or grease)."
Andy McC on Wednesday 18 November 2009
"those very large black and brown slugs *sometimes 6"* stretched out - seem to be tee totalers. They dont drink the beer I put out - or in the compost for them-/ I have to force them into the jar. Now, however, it is November and the slugs are gone - somewhere - dead? I dont know. They are all, at least the ones I could find, in the compost bin. We'll see next spring what happens. If they are down under growing....well, I'm going to get a large spear or a gun and shoot them. "
Nina Pattison on Wednesday 18 November 2009
"I am in Australia. Here we look after the really huge slugs. We call them leopard slugs. They are carnivorous and eat the smaller herbivores. That may be why the beer is not working. Check it out. You may be killing one of the good guys. My mother in law had a pet one that visited each evening to finish off all of the cat food. LOL"
Rosalie on Wednesday 18 November 2009
"I recently read that cold ashes from the fireplace work against those hungry slugs.....anyone else hear of this?"
Maureen on Wednesday 24 February 2010
"My growing year was successful. I picked the slugs off by torch light and put them in a patch of scrub over the fence! Let them eat the nettles! The lavender round the edge of the beds might have dettered them a bit also the fact that I grew lots of onions and leeks among the cabbage and lettuce..."
Eilean on Thursday 25 February 2010
"If you use copper directly on the soil - i.e a copper ring for instance - does the copper leach into the soil and cause any harm to plant,man or(friendly)beasties?"
Judith on Tuesday 1 June 2010
"Judith, Copper is actually one of the macronutrients that plants require and if some did leach into the soil it would get bound up with the organic matter. I've not heard of it being a problem and have used it in my own garden. "
Jeremy Dore on Wednesday 2 June 2010
" i know a lot of people who use old bathtubs to grow there cabbage and such in. incredibly slugs can't climb the outside enamel of the tub. i recently learned this and i am now in the process of testing it. one guy had forty old tubs that he uses and told me has never had any problem"
BEN STACEY on Friday 23 July 2010
"I do not like slugs but I am worrieed now that there are not very many of them. After all, they are a part of the ecosystem and must belong there for some reason. I have only found half a dozen tiger slugs and ONE small brown one. The parking lot gets the biggest ones and the others go into the compost where they mostly stay/ I have, however, now got snails....small, oval brown ones. I have not noticed that they do any damage so I leave them. are they the ghosts of past slugs reappearing? What has happened to all the slugs?"
nina on Friday 23 July 2010
"I read in your article you state,"But slug pellets are poisons that cause considerable distress for pets, wildlife, birds and beetles." We use a slug pellet, here on the Isle of Jura, by Growing Success,, which are safe for animals and children. In fact we are about to contact them for the birds and pheasants ablolutely love them. (This does give us some concern). We have found that they work quite well."
Michael Varley on Monday 23 August 2010
"back again on the slug trail! I wondered where they had gone this year and now I think I have the solution. I found two frogs behind our shed in a nice shady, dampish part of the garden....Looks like they like the local eateries! "
Eilean on Monday 23 August 2010
"Re Jeremy Dore's comment about the sawfly on my gooseberry bush, (9th October 2009)just to let you know the bush is now growing in my allotment, has doubled it size and not a sawfly caterpillar in sight! Don't know why this should be, but maybe birds ate them. Thanks Jeremy."
Pauline on Monday 23 August 2010
"Thanks for the update Pauline"
Jeremy Dore on Monday 23 August 2010
"I get lots of slugs in my small garden. Last week I used beer in an old breakfast bowl and covered it with a plastic tray. The next morning there about thirty slugs sleeping peacefully at the bottom of the bowl. I used an old strainer and emptied the bowl into a jug, then poured the beer back into the bowl and flushed the slugs down the loo. The funny thing is, since that first night I haven't caught any more. Is it possible the beer has lost its power after the first use?"
John on Monday 23 April 2012
"it is a bummer about pellets. I use a very few....7or8 around the hostas and other plants that those creepy things eat. Have a dog and a cat who seem to not invade them. No slugs as yet. i will be interested to see what this spring brings. Now those little brown oval snails are invading with vast armies. I crush their shells which distresses me as I know snails are becoming extinct. But it's either them or me. I choose ME. And I'm wondering about the truth of those words from Australia(?) about the brown/black ones being predators who eat the little bad guys! Could it be that I am killing the good guys?"
Nina on Monday 23 April 2012
"Yep.. If you are killing the big brown leopard slugs you are killing the good guys. They are carnivourous and eat the smaller slugs and snails. Next time you get a coffee at StarBucks ask for some of their used coffee grounds. They are happy to get rid of it. The vegetarian slugs love it and have coronaries and the good carnivourous ones avoid it. It is natural, and sometimes even organic, and is good for the garden."
Rosie on Tuesday 24 April 2012
"Have you ever SEEN a big brown leopard slug killing or eating the smaller slugs and snails? Are you a 'slugologist'? You are the only person who has ever suggested that phenomenon! and maybe you know what happens to them in winter? Dont they eat many many more of my hostas, etc to fill up their fat bellies? I would love it if they really were predating on the eating slugs and snails! Your friend "Doubting Thomas" aka Nina "
Nina on Tuesday 24 April 2012
"LOL. Yes I have seen them eating the smaller slugs in my garden No I am not a 'slugologist', Just an avid organic gardener. In a really cold winter they "hibernate" in leaf litter or in holes. We don't have winters quite that cold here thankfully. They will eat veg if there is no other food available. They prefer fallen leaves and detritis before eating fresh leaves. You can keep them happy with a bit of cat or dog food if they get hungry. You might find this article interesting reading.."
Rosie on Tuesday 24 April 2012
"I used to play with the slugs that came up on my porch. I put a coffee can on top of them and let it sit for a couple hours then move it a little every couple hours. I have pictures of the "Slug Art" that it created from the slug slime they left going round after round...ok I had a lot of time on my hands but it was FUN!!"
Connie on Tuesday 24 April 2012
"i live in nl where there is lots of marshland. we plant all green produce on marshes. you will never have slugs. but if you plant anywhere near green grass, slugs will ruin your plants. they are almost impossible to control. ben"
BEN on Wednesday 25 April 2012
"oh, Ben! That is so depressing as I have a nice green grass lawn right next to my garden! The slugs and I live there together. Sometimes fighting it out and mostly I win! Have no marshland! "
Nina on Thursday 26 April 2012
"i haven't tried this trick yet but i am going to this year. i am going to plant turnip, cabbage and other green vegetables on my back lawn and surround them with juniper limbs. they are very thorny and may solve the slug problem. they steer away from rough surfaces. ben"
ben on Friday 27 April 2012
"Slugs and snails I have got you beaten in this dry weather .How to keep them off of my plants in pots ,just done some wall papering had some solvat paste over put some around the bottom of the pots flicked the slug pellets onto it like pebble dashing they stick, It drys the pellets stay where they are. What if it rains you might ask, well the pellets will just drop around the bottom of the pot still keeping them at bay."
TONY WOODS on Monday 28 May 2012
"I am considering getting some small sheets of particularly coarse sandpaper which my most favourite veg/plants will be surrounded by. Don't know as yet if it will work but, we will see!! "
Mikey Ward on Saturday 9 June 2012
"i think i have solved the slug problem. i bring mud from a peat bog, because the mud i've been using has larvae in it from last time and the slugs will grow from that. peatmoss mud has no larvae and weeds don't grow on it either. i built a box- like frame and completely covered the frame on all sides with door screening. all my green vegetables are growing perfectly and not one leaf on anything has any slug damage. ben stacey"
ben stacey on Sunday 10 June 2012
"well, I still havent gotten the 'ne plus ultra' of whether or not those big tiger slugs prey on the little brown ones. I have also been getting a lot of little (1/3 - 1/2") oval brown snails. Anybody know anything about those? I love this site! "
nina on Sunday 10 June 2012
"I highly recommend Slug Shields. I got some this year and they are working great. Best of all they last all season and are organic. I did n't know how they would work out b/c you need to wrap them around the base of the plant but it was easy and I have them on most of veggies and some problem flowers, esp Dahlias. I plan to re-use them next year too! "
Jack H on Wednesday 13 June 2012
"the RHS Garden magazine July 2012 has an article about using coffee. It does work, is not harmful to anything else, a concentration of 1% is sufficient, apparently. But of course we cannot speak about using something as a CHEMICAL unless it is specifically 'approved'. (Sigh.) In the UK we have legislation, enacted under the Food and Environmental Act, this legislation has generated 'regulations', called COSH, or, the care of substances hazardous to health, which has regulations about the use of substances, including approved substances to control pest and diseases. About, for e.g. storing and disposing of garden chemicals safely. As well as for the use of the approved ones, but ONLY the approved ones. When I was at horticultural college we were taught that any and all 'substances' that are used to control pests and diseases must be on the 'approved list', under the cosh regulations of the FEPA parliamentary act. These cosh regulations are constantly upgrades and chemicals are regularly removed and hopefully replaced with something 'better'. When a substance is removed from the approved list it then becomes a 'banned substance'. But obviously coffee has never been approved and put on the 'approved list' for mollusc control, so it is a substance that cannot be used for the control of ANY pests and diseases. Including molluscs. ALL substances must be currently approved by cosh if they are going to be used. Coffee is not one of them. All substances used to control pests and diseases must be used in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. Coffee manufacturers do not say 'dilute to a 1% solution and spray to kill molluscs'. If they did they would have to be approved by cosh for that specific purpose. There are other approved ways of using 'some substances', these are called 'off label uses' and they are also strictly controlled and are only really applicable/available to professionals, who often have specialised needs. The 'off label' uses are just as controlled and strict as the 'on label' uses - just not carried on the manufacturers labels. I intend to try the coffee as a spray, it sounds cheaper than the beer traps and doesn't need the disposal 'aftercare' associated with beer/yeast traps. I want some slugs and snails, I just do not want to be completely overrun. I would not want to spray to kill them, even with a coffee more than once a year. I aim for control not extinction, just to get the overall population down a bit. Sadly I seem to get less hedgehog activity than I used to get and cannot bear the thought of these dear creatures becoming extinct within the next 25 years, helped along by metaldyhyde and methiocarb. Also birds, frogs, cats and dogs can be effected, they cannot be effected by coffee flavoured molluscs that they have contact with or from licking paws coated in coffee solution. "
retired gardener on Saturday 28 July 2012
"The act is the Food and Environmental PROTECTION Act. I could have sworn that was what I typed. Please excuse any other errors and ommisions. Have you heard about using paraquat to feed your moss garden? No? Well of course not, it is not approved for that use. But you can spray it on your moss garden to control any 'weeds' that may arrise. The fact that it seems to be a tonic for the moss is a mere by-product... I should like a coffe scented garden, say once a year. Well thats my story anyway and I'm sticking to it... "
retired gardener on Saturday 28 July 2012
"I googled to see if slugs ate seeds etc bird mix and nuts,they said that they dont,but for the last 2 nights there has been about 20 and a couple of snails on the bird food that I put down next to my bird table,they are clearly eating away at it and I have a picture to prove it "
Mrs L murray on Tuesday 2 October 2012
"I gently pick up the large tiger slugs and deposit them in Paradise=- where they can eat melon rinds, peach skins, greens that thave gone bad in the fridge etc. they cohabit nicely with coffee grounds and eggshells . I've only once or twice seen anyone trying to get out of the bin. They seem to go underground in the day and come out to feast at night, but mostly in the compost bin. Where DO they go at night and in the winter?"
nina pattison on Wednesday 3 October 2012
"LOL. The tiger slugs don't seem to eat the coffee like the small slugs and snails, but They do seem to like the odd science project from the bottom of the fridge. We have a cane toad (Very nasty feral pests here in QLD) living in our compost bin. He? She? eats anything that dares to move in the bin and has reduced the roach problem to non-existant and there has been no baby mice in there either. Must be the fattest and happiest toad in Australia. There is a use for everything. Just a bit of lateral thinking to find the answer"
Rosalie on Wednesday 3 October 2012
"The Tiger slugs in my garden are so big even the hedgehogs give them a wide berth. If they had any sense they could just roll over them and have a feed. You don't see many cane toads in this part of the UK."
JohnT on Wednesday 3 October 2012
"how do I stop slugs getting in my house ive tryed salt, pellets cooper wire/tape, they go on my worktops, in front room and on my little girls toys :-("
michelle on Monday 17 June 2013
"I hate actually killing slugs as I do think they are part of the ecosystem, but equally I hate them eating my seedlings, so I have a 3 pronged approach. Firstly, we have stone borders around all of our beds, so I actually go around in the morning and twice a week and take the slugs from under the stones. I deposit them in an abandoned house up the road, which has a wonderful overgrown garden. Secondly, for plants they really love (Dahlias, petunias, brassicas, lettuce), I take egg shells, bake them in the oven and put them in the blender until fine as sand. I then surround these plants with the ground shells. Thirdly, I planted garlic liberally throughout my flower and veg beds last winter. Apparently they don’t like it. I also use coffee grounds, but I did not realise it killed the poor buggers! I will now try rosemary as well, as we have that growing in our garden. "
Joanna Lynch on Thursday 15 May 2014
"I use a similar method to the three pronged attack, but mine has four prongs. I go out late at night with a torch and an old fork and flick the slugs into a plastic dish."
JohnT on Thursday 15 May 2014
" I so often see that chickens eat slugs, but my chickens absolutely refuse. Just now was picking slugs in the garden and tossing them into a small bucket with some dish soap added. Works well. Check as you go, as some hale and hearty ones will try to climb out, but if you keep dunking them they'll eventually succumb. Am going to now make a slug trap with a basement swimming pool. Love it. I also have frog and snake friends in the gardens whom I know enjoy the slugs I don't catch. There always seems to be plenty to go around."
Jeanne on Saturday 16 August 2014
"Referring to slugs in compost bins - we've found slug EGGS in our bin and therefore concerned that we are putting them on our garden with the compost! Has anyone else found this to be a problem and what did you do about it? "
Ann on Friday 23 October 2015
"Buy Wolf snails, some pet shops sell them, you can also buy online. They are predators, don't eat veggies. They will eat all kind of slugs and snails. Buy them only if the leopard/tiger slugs aren't eating enough of other mollusks or if they don't seem to do it fast enough. Wolf snails can grow pretty big so they will eat bigger snails and slugs."
May on Sunday 13 March 2016
"Btw, egg shells and sharp stuff won't deter the slugs and snails or stop them. These creatures bodies adapt to sharp surfaces, they don't get cut or prickled. They walk on a razor blade and not get hurt. That egg shell, glass, etc. technic is useless."
May on Sunday 13 March 2016
"Nice article with informative content.Thanks for sharing."
Direct Compost on Wednesday 22 June 2016
"Nematodes work well but only if you start early enough and do the subsequent treatments when they should be done. Don't water in the evening if you can help it. Slug tape is cheap and very effective if placed right (poundworld sell it) our hostas are untouched in terracotta pots with slug tape round and no other touching vegetation where they can bypass the tape. We have some horrendous ones on our railings, they need a repaint and wondered if it would be effective using a paint and thick salt mix? Salt has to be a godsend for the gardener, especially on paths etc rather than directly around plants."
Mark on Thursday 1 September 2016
"I discovered by accident that fish food (flake type) pulls in the slugs like magic!. I dropped a tub on my way to our small pond and a pile of flake spilled onto the garden path. As you do, I forgot to clean it up but remembered at dusk so went out with a dustpan and was covered in slugs of all colours and sizes. I ran back inside grabbed a wooden kebab stick and speared the lot about 2o in all. They made a very interesting kebab. Please don`t anyone say it was cruel!"
Brian Barnes on Wednesday 7 September 2016
"I have tried every method listed here in my greenhouse except poison, which I will not use. I have 2 large ponds one 12 foot away from the greenhouse. At any given time there are at least 3 frogs patrolling ( they come in through a drainage hole and have done for the last 20yrs) I encourage them with a few worms from the compost bin. They certainly keep the snail population down but not the slugs not even the small ones. I have garlic and salad onions growing everywhere and I've even seen nibbles in their leaves, Copper of any width, I swear I could hear the slugs laughing. Tried Vaseline flavoured with tea tree oil around the tubs. Huh! With a little amount of success I tried quilting wadding around the plants works for a while. Sand, eggshells Rosemary, distraction plants like lawn camomile they ignored. My final experiment to prove nothing eats slugs no matter how young and tender, was my blackbirds who come into my greenhouse to be fed and at this time of year they bring their babies as well. I collected all the baby slugs I could find and put them in their feeding dish, this was met with absolute disgust! Both mr and Mrs picked them out and threw them on the floor, it took me ages to catch them all. Last autumn I fed two young hedgehogs and spent many an evening watching them eat, I've witnessed them eating snails that have wandered into their dish but they totally ignored the slugs. So tell me again about wildlife eating slugs ? As a foot note I have no problems with aphids or insect pests in my greenhouse the visiting Wrens and sparrows see to them. Any more suggestions please, since last night my aubergines are now lace and some of the tomatoes as well. All the compost is new this year yet I am plagued with hatching after hatching of slugs. Help!"
Annette on Sunday 11 June 2017
"At the start of the slug/snail season I nip out at midnight with a pair of scissors and torch. Any I find I chop their heads off and leave the carcase where it lies. I then nip out the following evening to usually find almost without fail 2 or 3 more feeding on the dead carcase, they of course lose their heads to become tomorrow evenings dinner.Over the course of a week the amount of slugs caught diminish and only a maintenance sortie is required every now and then. This is the second year I`ve tried this and so far have lost only a couple of seedlings. It seems they prefer to be cannibals than vegetarians. "
FRank on Wednesday 21 June 2017
"Has it ever occurred to all of you that your seedlings aren't as important as the slugs and snails? It shocks me to see you advocate for ways to kill them in large numbers just so you can grow something out of place, possibly unbalancing the local ecosystem in which you live. If there are native slugs and snails in your garden, either grow something they don't eat or use a physical barrier. They are undoubtedly more valuable than your hobby plants. And by the way, it is not cute or fun for the slugs and snails to drown. "
Eileen Lorber on Wednesday 25 April 2018
"@Eileen you write "It shocks me to see you advocate for ways to kill them in large numbers just so you can grow something out of place, possibly unbalancing the local ecosystem in which you live." I just handpicked 3kg of orange slugs (an iberian superinvasive type) in 10 minutes. And my overall slug-removal progress was STILL about 0% Some of us have a genuine problem. And invasive slugs are the ones that unbalances the local ecosystems in which we live. If you know of a cute and fun way to catch and dispose of these nightmarish things, please let us in on it"
Ole Andersen on Saturday 23 July 2022

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