Slime trails and ragged edges on plant stems and leaves are signs that slugs and snails are in your garden. Damage can go even further as the critters may also feed on roots or tubers.
Snails and slugs 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.
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.
You can purchase beneficial nematodes online. Follow the instructions that come with your order on how to use it.
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 instantly.
Sprinkle it directly on these pests. It will absorb their body fluids and dehydrate them.
5. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth 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 areas. However, you will have to reapply after a heavy shower of rain.
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 take the bait and 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 that these critters 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.
Beer is a highly effective bait to keep them off plants. To make a homemade beer trap for slugs and snails, look for a spot where you can bury a 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 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 add nutrients to the soil.
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, and it kills slugs too. However, be careful not to spray directly on plants as the solution might burn them.
To get rid of snails and slugs with vinegar, combine one cup of vinegar with half a cup of water in a spray bottle. 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; however, they are not picky eaters and will go after your crops. Tender leaves and stems 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. As a result, stop them before there’s an infestation.