The Q&A Archives: slugs

Question: What are some natural ways to rid myself of slugs without having to use pesticides? They are destroying my Rose Barbarini Dianthus. Thank you.

Howard Walton
Gaithersburg, MD
Zone 6

Answer: Your organic slug control strategy is threefold: take their homes away, keep new slugs from moving in and kill any slugs who dare to remain. So, on to the first step, eliminating their habitat. Slugs like to live in damp, shady places during the day and awake to forage in your delicious organic garden at night. By removing tall grass or weeds, rotting logs, boards or any plant detritus (including your compost pile) from your immediate garden area you will eliminate a lot of potential slug habitat.

The second slug control strategy is to create a slug barrier around your garden. The barrier can be made or anything that will poke, stab, dry out or otherwise irritate the slugs. There are many types of organic slug barriers that you can try in your organic garden.
Among the materials of choice are lava rocks, eggshells, lime (calcium carbonate), hardware cloth, copper strips whatever other sharp, drying materials you can think of.

The third step and the one that gives you the most extensive slug exposure (yuck!) is trapping any slugs who persist in calling your garden home. You can accomplish this by luring slugs with the bait of your choosing. Many people swear by using beer as slug bait but for the teetotalers among us, there are various non-alcoholic baits available, either homemade, such as a sugar water and yeast mixture, or purchased, such as Sluggo. Slugs can also be trapped
by luring them with the promise of a snug, dark, moist home (such as under a piece of plywood) and then can be killed by squishing them or sprinkling them with salt.

By combining these organic slug control strategies, you will be able to safely keep these pests out of your garden and out of your salad.

There is a product on the market called Sluggo. It is iron based and will not harm humans, pets or wildlife. You may want to give this a try - it's less labor intensive and it has the added benefit of degrading into a form of nitrogen your plants can use.

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