Slugs – Ammunition to Beat Them


There’s not much going on in my garden right now so I’ll carry on with my ‘Master Gardener‘ series.

This week on the course we had a lunchtime speaker come in to talk about slugs and snails. Part of the talk was about how to reduce their numbers in the garden but mostly it was about getting to know slugs and snails better. Because the more you know about something, the better your chances of fighting it. So here goes:

There are lots of types of slugs. The larger ones may look mean but in truth it’s the smallest ones that tend to do the most damage.

If you see a leaf with a ragged-edged hole it’s most likely slug damage. If you see a leaf with a smooth-edged hole it’s most likely a caterpillar or vine weevil . Slugs eat with a dragging motion, hence the ragged edges.

Slugs are hermaphrodites. When they mate both slugs become pregnant. A slug can produce 500 eggs per season.

Their eggs are clear and gradually go opaque. The slugs keep the eggs inside them until there is 25 per cent moisture. Then they lay them.

Slugs avoid eating:
Ferns, Ivy, Sweet Woodruff and Foxgloves (among others)

Slugs love eating:
Hostas (but not the blue, quilted kind for some reason)
Lettuce, Daffodils, Lilies, Strawberries and Primroses (among others!)

They live under rocks, mulch and anywhere it’s moist.

They like to eat at night, or when it’s wet.

Defences include:
Barriers like copper strips, coffee grounds, egg shells.
Citrus or Melon halves then trap them.
Beer traps.
Lettuce under a board then trap them.
Nematodes watered into the soil.

Repellants include:
Garlic, Cinnamon, Copper

Slug bait is exactly what it says it is, bait! The slugs move towards it so don’t put it all near your plants. Put it between their home and your plants. In other words find out where they live!

Research shows that it’s best to bait every two weeks because slugs do have some form of memory and can remember where you put it.

Slugs can see about six feet, and they can smell about three feet.

Chances are you’re using too much bait. You only need a light sprinkle. Because they are attracted to it they will seek it out.

And remember slug bait is toxic so only use it as a last resort and away from children, pets and ideally birds.

9 Comments on “Slugs – Ammunition to Beat Them

  1. It really is garden warfare isn’t it, I always fancied trying the nematodes in the soil, but feel a bit squeamish about it.

  2. Hi Becky – I’ve never used nematodes but I think this would be less icky than the teacher’s suggestion – snip them in two with a pair of scissors! I draw the line at that.

  3. After last years plague of biblical proportions, I took to cutting them up like that.

    As they had munched their way through pretty much everything I planted, including 4 trays of zinnias that I had been nurturing, I felt it was a justified revenge and it was (after the ickiness wore off…) strangely satisfying!

  4. I used to use slug bait. Then I found out t we have e slender salamanders in our garden that eat the slugs. The bait kills them too.

  5. What is a nematode??

    The lore of how to kill the slugs sounds positively medieval, or like something Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer would have dreamed up.

    Great post.

    No garden, no slugs . . .

  6. I’ve heard coffee grindings are supposed to work, I’ve never tried but was wondering if anyone else had? Don’t like the idea of using slug pellets but last year was just crazy with the number of the little blighters slime-ing around the place.

  7. Last year I introduced the best defense against slugs and snails in my garden, 3 free-ranging Indian runner ducks.
    The gobble up any slug, snail, caterpillars and other bugs the girls can find, and they do very little damage as they dont dig.

  8. Hi Susan,

    Nematodes are tiny parasites that attack slugs. You can buy them online or at your garden centre. There are lots of different nematodes for different problems.
    Generally, you put them in water and water them in to the soil. Then they seek out the slugs and invade their bodies and eventually kill them. It can be an expensive way to control slugs as you have to keep applying them and they cost more than bait or homemade remedies.

  9. Hi There

    There is another solution to the problem of Slugs! Its called the Slug Bell, itis an enviromentally freindly product that looks pretty in your garden as there are a choice of 9 designs, but the main attraction is it rids your garden of slugs and snail! The Slug Bell works by keeping the slug pellets dry and prevented from being blown away, because of this the pellets stay fresh for up to 3 weeks before they need changing! Also because the pellets are not being scattered on the ground it protects the wildlife, children, family pets and even the soil from the posions in the pellets.

    Please take a look at

    Kind Regards