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.

95 Comments

  1. Peter says:

    Tried the slug recipe last night and it was a real success- thanks very much

    I usually find small slugs with a light at night but the ones attracted included enormous slugs – as big as my little finger

    The slugs that arrived through the night and enjoyed your mixture – will they die or do I need to kill them myself

    Kind regards

    Peter , Seaford Victoria

    • Karen says:

      Hi Peter! They’ll eventually drown so you can leave them (which is what I do) but you can kill them if you want to put them out of their misery. ~ karen!

  2. Cherie says:

    Just now realized that I read 2 tsps as 2 Tbsp. Which is it? If 2 tsp of sugar, I have been putting too much into the mixture.

  3. Cherie says:

    Okay; I tried it and nothing happened –at first. Yesterday there was a slug fest. I got three large European black slugs in one container, right under the sunflower that they were devouring. A real bonus? The pill bugs and earwigs seem to like it, too. On the assumption that it is the yeast that is attracting them, I have added a bit more yeast to my latest mixture and am making the Slug Glug in a 10 cup container. 2 cups are gone in no time in my large garden. To get even more slugs, my dog and I do what I call The Slug Hunt in the evening, with a knife. She gets to spend time with Mom and I get to murder slugs, by the dozen. Just call me The Vancouver Island Slug Killer, a name I wear proudly. Well, okay, not really proudly. I actually feel badly killing them, but it is quicker than other methods, perhaps (?) more humane. After all, they do have a purpose on the planet, just not in my garden. And given I have blueberries and red currants I don’t want to attract too many birds even though I do have two bird baths in the garden. Last year, when the blueberry harvest was hardly worth picking, we entertained ourselves by watching a robin hop over to the blueberries, hop down into the bed, chomp away and then repeat the performance. It was almost to cute not to let them have their feast. This year, though, the bushes are loaded so I have told the birds to stay out of the garden. Ha!

  4. NinaMargo says:

    Karen,
    I almost wish I had slugs so I could try this! But… do you think it would work on those nasty earwigs that come out at night to dine on my young clematis? And, if the answer to the above is yes, is there something noxious smelling that could be added that would make my dog not want to drink it?

  5. whitequeen96 says:

    Love your “Slug Chug” bottle! Great name and wonderful drawing of the dead slug – you are so incredibly creative!

  6. bruce cheney says:

    From Humboldt county in coastal northern calif. We have really big slugs.
    Banana Slugs Sauteed

    From A Taste of Humboldt: An Historical and Ethnic Cookbook of Humboldt County, California, assembled by Humboldt State University’s Youth Educational Services.

    Ingredients and method:

    12 large banana slugs

    white vinegar

    butter

    Put the slugs in the freezer for roughly one hour. Remove and immerse them in vinegar for another hour. Slug slime will congeal. Wash the slime off thoroughly under running water. Using a very sharp knife, make a vertical cut along slug’s body and carefully remove the dark entrails. Also remove the small, fingernail-shaped shell from the slug’s head area. Sauté them well in the butter and your choice of seasoning. Serving over rice or rolled into sushi are also options.

    • whitequeen96 says:

      YUCK! I’ll eat snails (if prepared by someone else), but this sounds pretty awful! Although I did once eat a slice of “sea cucumber” at a Korean dinner and it turned out it was a giant sea slug. And it tasted pretty much like you’d think it would.

    • Lisa says:

      Please….please tell me you’re kidding.🤢
      We have large banana slugs here on Vancouver Island as well – they are useful for eating the dog poop that no one picks up which makes me not want to eat them even more😂

  7. Lez says:

    Can someone tell me if this works for Snails too please?

  8. Ann Visco says:

    I love your blog. I save it till get home from work or I will get nothing done because I go from one post to another. What I haven’t been able to find is have you ever made ice-cream? I just read an amazing article on CNN on how to make ice cream in a mason jar. With just cream and sweetened condensed milk and what ever flavors you want. It seemed like something you would have tried.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ann! I do make ice cream but I haven’t done a post on it and I have definitely never made it in a mason jar so let me know how it goes! ~ karen

  9. Ann Visco says:

    I have to pass this recipe on to my mom. I don’t currently have and slugs. I think the toads/frogs are taking care of them, but where I grew up we have something we called Leopard slugs. They are 3-6 inches long and gray with black spots. We used the beer traps but when my mom stepped on one barefoot she would dump salt on it. Cruel but slug snot on the bottom of your foot at 7am is also cruel.

    I can’t have nails with my job but I use a pumice stone in the shower to get the dirt stains off of my finger tips. I have yet to find a pair of garden gloves I’m really comfortable in. The closest I came was old riding gloves. When they were to sweat soaked and gross to wear at the barn I hardened in them. Problem was the leather was so rotten at that point they didn’t last long.

  10. Tbocci says:

    I once saw a slug dangling 15’ off a cliff from its own slime! I was impressed by this and thought Maybe they do have some redeeming qualities….
    I’ve found that if you squish one dead others come immediately to eat it, yes YUK but it brings them out into the open to pick up (I drop them in ammonia and then burn em up) or bait it with slug chug or other concoctions. I also love the egg shell and coffee grounds ideas Thank you T

  11. Lisa says:

    This spring I had slugs that were attacking a bear’s breeches plant that was just starting to grow. I put a double coil of heavy gauge copper wire around the base of the plant and they didn’t bother it again. I just happened to have the wire, but I am sure there are other types of copper to use, like thin strips or sheets you could cut up.

    Any ideas for how to deal with the Asian jumping worms? I hate them.

    • Jude says:

      Ducks (and possibly chickens) go crazy over these invasive worms. Ducks will generally leave your garden plants alone whereas chickens will eat most plants to ground level. Even if they’d eat the jumping worms, they’d likely prefer your plants instead.

      Stick to ducks and if you don’t want to get ducks, befriend someone who has ducks and ask if he’ll rent them out occasionally.

  12. Cheri says:

    I also grew up reading and loving Laura Ingalls Wilder, but when a friend encouraged me to imagine what it was like for a Black child to read those books, those depictions, to feel the emotional cringing when they saw themselves described that way, and to know that the person who wrote them was glorified to the point of having a literature award named after them, I realized it was time to change the name of the award. Changing it does no harm to LAW (she’s dead, you know) and no harm to anyone else, but not changing it can create ongoing hurt to children. It seems to me to be a lot like masks–wearing them/doing it doesn’t cause harm, but not wearing them/changing the name can prevent harm, so why not just be kind and do it.

    • DebinSC says:

      This comment reminds me of slugs, they get into places where they don’t belong and contribute little to nothing of any relevance. Slug Chug to the rescue.

    • Athena Blitz says:

      Thank you for being an empathetic person ☺️

  13. Andrea says:

    Those purple garden gloves and all the ones like them that only have the latex that goes slightly below the fingernail area don’t work bc dirt gets into the cloth part immediately! The glove that has the latex that comes down further is called Mud Glove. These are the only gloves that keep my nails perfectly clean. I found them back in the ‘90’s so there might be other companies by now that have wised up to bringing the latex further down. Also, the back of the glove is breathable cotton! Even their ‘winter’ gloves without cotton are breathable

  14. Lynda says:

    I know what I can use my sourdough discard for! Thank you!

  15. Ciara Barker Murphy says:

    They are officially bastards! I am tired feeding the feckers with my expensive plants.

  16. Lisa says:

    I have to say, I was gobsmacked that you somehow didn’t think to include a photo of your gleefully drowned snots. After you showed the rotten-shrimp fly trap full of a bazillion victims… is it not equally disgustingly shareable?
    Can you add one? What is your record in one day?

    ps I have been collecting eggshells for months. Would clam shells work too? I’m on Cape Cod where they are a common (but smelly) driveway material and occasionally used as garden paths.

  17. marc says:

    I spread eggshells around the perimeter of the plants. Slugs won’t crawl across them and they decompose and add calcium to the soil.

    • JoDee Clark Lompa says:

      I’ve been using both broken egg shells and used coffee grounds. Doing pretty well so far. I am going to try the slug chug, as well.

  18. carla says:

    Love your slug chug! Works like a charm. I find many slugs in my tuna cans in the morning. By mid-day, what ever liquid was left in there has dried up in the sun and the slugs have dehydrated. Then something (bird?) comes and makes a meal of them. I don’t even have to clean them out of the cans! Just adopted my first three chicks so I’m hoping the girls will make short work of the slugs when they get big enough and I can ‘train’ (hahahaha) them to work my garden for me.

    • Margaret says:

      Thanks. Carla, was wondering what to do with the slugs once they were in the container, because I couldn’t even think of lifting a Container with slugs in it, they disgust me can’t even look at them, so I hope you are right and the sun will dry them up, and birds eat them, that’s my main worry how to dispose of them

  19. J. Shirey says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve never really had a big issue with slugs until this year, which is odd because we’ve gotten nearly no rain in the last 4-5 weeks, go figure. Thanks to CV-19, we are trying to eat out of our garden as much as possible, more than we ever have, so I really can’t be feeding the slugs like we were… I did not want to take any more of my dear husband’s beers & this recipe is perfect! Thank you!!

    • Bridgett says:

      Love this recipe, thanks for sharing. The last Two nights I have put out beer and had over 30 slugs in my Dixie cups. Your recipe will be much better because I don’t drink beer and I wouldn’t have to go to the store and buy any.

  20. Bob Yeoman says:

    This article attracted me because my local pubs have closed. I control slugs using beer traps, if I go to a pub I ask them for any slops (bring a wide necked sealable container). Some publicans won’t give me slops, quoting “policy”, “health & safety” etc ……all guff.
    These businesses do not make it onto my approved pubs list.

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