There isn’t anything more frustrating than doing morning garden walks, only to find your plants damaged by slugs and snails.
These critters are a major problem most gardeners face at some point in time, particularly when it comes to vegetable and herb gardens. As a result, make every effort to get rid of them before an infestation arises.
Here’s how to get rid of slugs and snails naturally.
1. Pick Them Off
This might be a gross home remedy to stop them from eating your plants, but it works.
Wait about an hour or two after the sun goes down, then go look at your garden. Bring a flashlight so you can properly see the offenders.
You don’t need to use your bare hands. We recommend using a pair of tweezers or wearing latex gloves when picking them off.
Slugs are typically active from spring through fall and love cool, damp shaded areas .
Look under plants and any dark/shady areas, such as on the bottom of rocks. This is the best way to find them and pick them off, but you should also look for eggs.
When searching for eggs, keep in mind that they’re brownish-gray, slightly gummy, and coated in a slimy substance. They usually appear in clusters on the soil surface, covered by debris.
There are certain plants these pests are fonder of, including basil, cabbage, strawberries, lettuce, hostas, dahlias, beans, and succulents. As a result, look closely for them around these plants.
2. Beneficial Nematodes
Let’s put it this way, snails and slugs are bad — they are not good for the garden. However, the use of beneficial nematodes is a natural deterrent for the problem.
These nematodes are microscopic, non-segmented roundworms that will penetrate soft-bodied insects and feed on them. They will also kill other harmful insects lurking in the soil.
You can purchase beneficial nematodes online. Follow the usage instructions that come with your order.
Both critters love cornmeal; however, when eaten, it expands in their stomach and kills them.
Pour small piles of cornmeal at various locations in your garden.
You can also place a jar with cornmeal and lay it on its side for them to crawl in and have their last meal.
4. Table Salt
Table salt is an excellent home remedy to kill slugs and snails.
Sprinkle it directly on these pests. It will absorb their body fluids and dehydrate them.
5. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth, also known as insect dust, is a natural product that works incredibly well for killing these annoying pests. It has sharp, fine edges that will damage their soft bodies.
Sprinkle this organic slug and snail killer around the affected area. However, keep in mind, you’ll want to re-apply if it rains or you’ve watered your plants as it’s less effective when wet.
6. Safe and Natural Slug Control Products
These are both made of ingredients that are safe for use in your organic garden, as well as around pets and children.
7. Grapefruit Halves
One of the best home remedies for slug prevention, this is a great trick that many people overlook. First, enjoy a grapefruit!
Next, take the empty peel halves and place them open side down near the plants you’ve seen them destroying. They’ll hide underneath.
In the morning, simply remove and feed them to the birds!
8. Put a Trap Down
You can also try a wet piece of wood near the area you see them gathering most often. They’ll likely hide underneath the trap which makes it easy for you to remove them in the morning.
9. Scratchy Surfaces
If you surround your garden with scratchy surfaces, such as sandpaper or crushed eggshells, you’ll find a lot of slugs and snails leave fairly quickly.
Of course, this doesn’t kill them and they may come back. However, you can use this method as a first resort to keep them away before trying other methods.
10. Beer Containers
This is another highly effective method to keep them off plants.
Look for a spot where you can bury a beer container. Make sure this is close to the affected area of your garden and yard. Now, let the beer get stale and flat, then fill the container.
You’ll want it about an inch deep. Next, place the container with the beer into your spot and bury it so the rim is level with the ground.
The critters are attracted to the smell of beer, so they’ll drop in and drown. It works great for greenhouses and indoor spaces as well.
11. Used Coffee Grounds
Caffeine is toxic to snails and slugs, which makes this repellent highly effective at getting them to leave your garden alone.
Sprinkle coffee grounds around your plants (particularly those that they love) or make a caffeine spray and douse them.
As a bonus, coffee grounds will decompose and help keep your plants healthier than ever before.
12. Natural Predators
This is one of the best methods for getting rid of pests in the garden. Birds adore pecking at them, so why not use them to your advantage?
Set up a birdbath or a couple of bird feeders nearby. They’ll come to check out the area, and more than likely, eat most or all of the bad guys.
13. Copper Surfaces
These guys don’t like copper surfaces. Why? Because copper reacts with the slime they secrete , disrupting their nervous system.
Try using copper slug tapes around your flower pots, grow beds, and greenhouse to stop them from eating your plants.
14. Vinegar Solution
Does vinegar kill snails? Yes, it will, but be careful not to spray directly on plants as it will burn them.
Simply mix equal parts water and vinegar in a bottle with a pump spray. When these pests are active, go out and spray them directly.
15. Human Hair Clippings
If you have a local hair salon or barbershop, ask them for some floor sweepings of human hair.
You can place hair around the base of your plants and affected areas of your house to help eliminate or deter them. It also works great for potted plants.
How does this work? It’s simple. They will get tangled up in it.
Bonus: the hair will add nitrogen to the soil as it starts to decompose — making your plants even healthier.
What do slugs eat?
They are mostly scavengers (love to feed on dead things). However, they are not picky eaters and will go after anything.
Tender leaves of any plant are what they’ll target in your garden, so keep an eye out for them.
What do snails eat?
They will feed on fungi and mushrooms mostly, but they also go after the leaves, stems, fruits, and bark of live plants.
Is a snail an insect?
Although you will hear people using the term “snail or slug insect”, they are not insects. They span from the phylum Mollusca , and so they are more closely related to squids and octopuses than to insects.
Snails and slugs are annoying, and unfortunately, they’re one of the more difficult pests that attack vegetables in the garden.
The methods above will certainly help, but keep in mind that the critters are hermaphrodites (female and male), so they can lay many eggs, up to six times per year.
This means you’ll want to use the methods above as soon as you spot them in your garden.