Slugs can do a real number on your garden. Here are 4 organic ways to kill slugs in the garden and keep your precious fruits & veggies safe!
It’s no secret that slugs can be a real nuisance in the garden. They can mow down tender seedlings, eat holes in strawberries, and leave lettuce ragged. If you see chewed edges or big holes in your lettuce leaves, slime trails, or holes on the bottoms of your strawberries that are resting on the ground, you may be dealing with a slug problem.
Fortunately, slugs aren’t too difficult to control using organic methods. There are many ways to kill slugs without resorting to toxic chemicals – whether this means collecting them by hand, setting simple traps, or using an organic-approved slug bait.
However, there are also some methods that DON’T work, and even some that may harm your other garden plants, so you’ll want to make sure you know what you’re doing before you try these to get rid of your slugs. For example, while many people will tell you that sprinkling crushed eggshells around your plants will keep slugs away, I have never found this to be the case. Salt definitely will kill slugs, but adding salt to your garden soil is not a good idea, as it can kill your plants if too much is used, and you have to actually sprinkle the salt directly on the slugs for it to work.
Ready for some methods of killing slugs that DO work? Read on…
One of the most surefire methods of killing slugs is to do it by hand. Simply pick the slugs off your plants (the best time to find them is early in the morning before it gets hot and sunny), and drop them in a cup or bowl of soapy water. This will kill them quickly. Just a squirt or two of dishwashing liquid in a bit of water is all you need.
However, this method works best for larger slugs. If you have a lot of tiny slugs, it can be very difficult to find and hand-pick them all. In that case, you may want to try one of the other methods listed below.
2.) Beer Traps
You may have heard of this method before, and it does work. You just need a shallow dish that you can press down slightly into the ground to make it easy for the slugs to get in, where they will drink the beer, get drunk, and drown. This is a great use for stale beer – or that six-pack of Miller Lite that your uncle left at your house at your last barbecue and you’ll never drink! 🙂 A Frisbee laid upside down works great. Just pour the beer in and wait. The slugs will be attracted to the beer, and you’ll soon find plenty of them in your trap. After they’re dead, just empty the trap and refill it, until your slug problem is no more.
3.) Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
If you’re ready for a faster remedy that’s less work-intensive than hand-picking, you may want to try one of the organic-approved slug killers. Diatomaceous earth is made of ground-up fossil shells, and it will kill slugs quickly by desiccating their soft bodies. Just sprinkle it around the base of your plants or on the leaves, and your slug problem will soon be history. However, keep in mind that DE only works when it is dry, so after a rain (or even heavy dew), you will have to keep reapplying. Also be aware that DE can harm some helpful insects as well, such as ladybug larvae, and bees, so don’t use it indiscriminately and try not to use it on any flowers that bees may be pollinating.
Sluggo is an organic-approved slug bait and killer, and it works like a charm – especially for heavy infestations of small slugs which can be difficult to pick by hand. Sluggo is safe for pets and wildlife and it contains iron phosphate as its active ingredient, so it will not harm most other garden insects besides slugs and snails. Simply sprinkle the pellets around your affected plants and it will work very quickly. You do not need to reapply after it rains, and one application of Sluggo should last for several weeks. This is my go-to for heavy slug infestations, and one small container has lasted me almost 10 years! (Please be aware that some states restrict the application of phosphorus-containing products on non-agricultural lawn or turf areas as phosphorus can cause water quality issues. Be aware of your local laws before applying, and use only when necessary and in small amounts. For most home gardeners, this should not be an issue, but it’s something to keep in mind.)
There are plenty of ways to kill slugs in the garden and keep your precious plants safe. I would suggest using the methods above in the order listed, depending on the severity of your slug problems. If handpicking and trapping aren’t doing the trick, it may be time to bring out the big guns. Just be sure to use the substances above judiciously and remember, the best way to keep insect pests at bay is to grow naturally healthy and vibrant plants, and encourage the presence of natural predators in your garden. Toads, for example, will help keep your slug population down – and they are very helpful at controlling other pests as well.