Slugs & Snails

The battle against slugs and snails is one the gardener will never win. However, working with natural solutions, planting strategically, and encouraging wildlife, we can minimise the impact of the slug menace.

Slug Elimination

Finding ways of permanently putting the little blighters out of your misery! This method includes poisoning, which should be avoided unless absolutely necessary.

Slug Traps

Ingenious contraptions to lure the slug to its doom; either killing it outright or allowing you to dispose of it later at your leisure. For example, the popular Slug-X beer trap.

Slug Shelters

Another variation on the slug trap idea is to recognise the sort of places where slugs love to hide during the day. Check those places and dispose of any slugs you find hiding there. You can even create your own such places in the garden and have the slugs exactly where you want them.

Slug Barriers

Rather than total annihilation, this approach aims to keep a little distance between the slug and your precious plants. Rough surfaces that are difficult to move across, desiccants that dehydrate, and copper barriers that inflict a tiny electric shock are just some of the possibilities.

By Hand

This is the more effective method of slug control; more so than any poisons and chemicals. You can collect hundreds on night time ‘slug patrol’ after a shower of rain. For a more elegant solution to manual slug collection, how about a slug grabber? Made from light-weight, anti-corrode aluminium; its 90cm (3’) length allows you to pluck slugs from the lawn with ease, and reach well into the border to pick them from plant leaves without stepping onto your garden.


Natural Predators

Hedgehogs, birds, and beetles all love a fat juicy slug! Learn to encourage the ‘good guys’ to make your garden their home. Microscopic nematodes, while technically a parasite rather than a predator, fall loosely into this category too.

Nemaslug – nematode slug killer

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The environmentally friendly alternative to traditional slug pellets; Nemaslug is the perfect choice for the ecological gardener who hates using chemicals and poisons in the garden. In fact, the nematodes are already present in smaller numbers in most soils, so you aren’t introducing anything new into your garden.

Simply mix the nematodes with water and apply to the soil – job done. Up to two month’s protection from a single treatment.

This is readily available (from Harrod Horticultural and others).

Garden Hygiene

An untidy garden with masses of dense undergrowth and rubbish beneath which to shelter during the day will provide a veritable slug haven. So keep it tidy! Slugs will hate you for it.

Slug Tolerance

Last but not least is learning to live with the slug to a certain extent. Grow the most delicate plants away from favoured slug haunts. Consider a few sacrificial plants to lure them away from your tender seedlings and treasured specimens.

Slug pellets should be used as a ‘last resort’, although they’re often the gardener’s first (and only) resort. When using chemicals in the garden, ALWAYS read the label carefully. Keep any poisons away from children and animals.

Metaldehyde slug pellets

Despite their popularity, slug pellets are one of the least effective methods of slug control, killing no more than 10% of the slug population in the average garden. However, they do pose a real hazard to other wildlife, pets and even young children.

Convenional Slug pellets are based on one of two active ingredients; Metaldehyde or the less common Methiocarb.

However ‘Advanced Slug Killer for organic gardeners’ is based on Ferrous Phospate and is claimed to be non toxic to animals, birds and children.

Metaldehyde pellets

Metaldehyde is the most common and less toxic form of slug poison. Whereas methiocarb causes the slug to swell up with fluid and die, metaldehyde [PK1] damages the mucus cells causing the creature to produce masses of slime and dehydrate. If not killed outright, it’s immobilised and unable to retreat to its daytime shelters. Metaldehyde also affects the slug by contact and absorption whereas methiocarb needs to be ingested.

Being less toxic, metaldehyde is not so fatal to other animals if consumed in small doses, so ALWAYS apply it thinly as directed. One pellet every 10cm (4”) is more than enough to attract a slug, without giving the friendly hedgehog a lethal dose.

Please note that there is no antidote to this poison, if your dogs eats sufficient of these pellets it will die.

Methiocarb pellets

The less common methiocarb is about ten times more poisonous than metaldehyde, thus posing far greater danger to other animals. It breaks down more slowly too, making it a longer lasting hazard. It’s also an insecticide, meaning it kills off many other insects, including the friendly slug-eating beetle and the beneficial earthworm. So all in all I really don’t see any place for these horrid methiocarb poisons in the /span/strongp class=”MsoNormal” style=”mso-pagination: none; mso-layout-grid-align: none; text-autospace: none;” It breaks down more slowly too, making it a longer lasting hazard. It’s also an insecticide, meaning it kills off many other insects, including the friendly slug-eating beetle and the beneficial earthworm. So all in all I really don’t see any place for these horrid methiocarb poisons in the garden shed. Please note that there is an effective antidote to this poison, call your vet immediately if you suspect your dog has eaten some.

Handy hint

Make your own eco-friendly slug bait from raw oats orThis is the more effective method of slug control; more so than any ∓ bran, either small heaps or scatte span style=”font-size: medium;”red around vulnerable plants. The greedy slug bloats itself up on it, leaving it dehydrated and easy pickings for the birds.

Pets and young children can easily be poisoned by improperly used or stored slug pellets. If you must use slug pell /spanspan style=”font-size: medium;”span style=”font-size: medium;”ets do not use excessive amounts and ensure that pellets are stored i /span/spann appropriate containers with child and pet proof lids.

As with all hazardous substances, always keep slug pellets well out of reach of children, and securely sealed in their containers.

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