8 Ways to Get Rid of Slugs.

Slugs. They eat dahlias, strawberries, potatoes, roses, tulips, carrots and anything on the verge of decomposing. BUT they’re also food for birds and other animals. Here’s how to get rid of slugs without killing anything else.

A glass milk bottle filled with homemade slug bait with a handwritten label stating "Slug Chug".

Ground Boogers. The mushy blob of goo that slimes its way around your garden eating hostas, strawberries and everything in between.  Those hateful little snots can somehow make their way from the garden dirt to the tips of all of your plants without the benefit of arms or legs.

If the Paralympics allowed shell-less terrestrial gastropod molluscs to compete … slugs would win it all.

I don’t have to worry about my slugs on my hostas, my chickens have eaten all of my hostas. But Strawberries?  Yes, I need to worry about my strawberries.

Last year I put straw beneath my strawberries to keep them clean. It worked.  Those slug eaten strawberries filled with ant tunnels and slug snot didn’t have a single speck of dirt on them.  Just slugs.  They had lots of slugs on them

Straw you see is the perfect hiding spot for slugs to bed down in during the day. At night they flip off their straw blanket and worm their way around the fruit salad until it’s time to go to get into their straw bed again.

I hate them.

The other problem is slugs don’t really like strawberries. They, like a lot of pests, take a few bites then skulk away.

Rotting strawberry being eaten by ants.

THAT’S when the opportunistic pests like woodlice and ants move in.

This year I’ve noticed them ravaging the first sprouts of dahlias I have planted around my front garden.  I will not have it. WILL NOT.

I have come SO close to buying lethal slug pellets. It isn’t the inorganic nature of the pellets that stops me from using them, it’s the birds and other animals. You poison a slug, you poison a bird. You also take away a big food source for them if you kill all the slugs.

But at the same time slugs are incredibly destructive.

So …

How to get rid of slugs?

  1. Clean up the garden. Slugs are snails without shells basically so they are always looking for protective spots to hide out under leaves, boards or mulch. 
  2. Attract slug predators. Put a birdbath in your garden to attract birds.  More birds = less slugs.
  3. Diatomaceous earth is always recommended but honestly, it’s not very effective. A ring of it around your plant might slow a slug down but it won’t stop them. It’s also rendered useless when it gets wet.
  4. First Saturday Lime is different than Diatomaceous earth and more effective from what I can tell.
  5. Iron Phosphate (the active ingredient in Sluggo) is said to be safe for use around gardens, pets, birds etc. It disturbs the slug gut and prevents it from eating which kills it within 3-6 days. You should still be careful when using it because although not lethal if a pet were to eat enough of the bait it could make it sick.
  6. Ferric Sodium is a newer organic active ingredient in slug killers like Safers Slug & Snail killer that works similarly to Iron Phosphate but more quickly. Same safety level around wildlife and pets.
  7. DON’T overwater. Slugs love moisture.

How can you DIY slugs away right now? The old wives tale about using a slug beer trap  – actually works. It’s more labour intensive than baits but also safer.

But beer is for drinking, not for catching ground boogers.  So instead of cracking open a $4 Guinness or a slightly cheaper Stella Artois, hell, even a Budweiser … you can make this DIY slug bait instead.

DIY Slug Bait

It’s the yeast in beer that slugs are attracted to, so as long as you can concoct something that replicates that, you’re golden.

This recipe also includes sugar and flour for the yeast to feed on.

Ingredients

2 cups water
2 tsps sugar or honey
2 tsp flour
1 tsp yeast

Instructions

Pouring water from Pyrex measuring cup into clear glass milk bottle.

  1. Add 2 cups of water to a jar or jug.

And yup. This is exactly how stained my fingers and nails are at this time of year.

Pouring sugar into glass milk bottle.

2. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar.

 

Glass milk bottle with teaspoon filled with flour beside it on marble counter.

3. Add 2 teaspoons of flour.

 

Pouring yeast grains from teaspoon into glass milk bottle.

4. Add 1 teaspoon of yeast.  Shake well.

 

Aluminum dish filled with DIY slug bait in strawberry patch.

To control slugs in the garden just put any container into the ground so the lip is at ground level.  Just dig out a bit of a hole in the soil and then pour in the slug chug.  You don’t need to fill the container to the top but make sure that your container and solution are deep enough that they won’t evaporate within a couple of days.

 

"Slug Chug". Milk bottle with slug bait sitting on strawberry patch bed.

Regularly check your containers for slugs and regularly replace your solution.  It’s gonna smell astonishingly gross if you don’t.

One quick tip about keeping your strawberries away from slugs and off of the ground is to run string along your strawberry bed and hook the berries over it when they start to ripen.  This helps make the berry much harder for the slug to get to (and let’s face it they may be agile but slugs are notoriously lazy).  It also keeps the berries clean.

Ripening strawberry kept off the soil by draping it over strings strung across strawberry bed.

Now you can save the beer for your more refined backyard guests. The ones who only roll around in the dirt after they’ve got at least a 6 pack into them.

DIY Slug Bait

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tsps sugar
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1 tsp yeast

Instructions

  • Mix all the ingredients together and pour into soil level containers in the garden.

 

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8 Ways to Get Rid of Slugs.